Tuesday, 31 December 2013


I've been wanting to start posting monthly Instagram summaries since I started my blog in October - and I've finally got round to it!

I update my Instagram every day - sometimes multiple times, so it's hard for me to choose just a snapshot of my life!

If you want to see more, you can follow me on @JEFisher90

Here's a snippet of what I got up to in December!

London night out at Roxx pop up nightclub // My advent candle // Putting the tree up on December 1st // Primark party dress // Christmas Jumper // Work Christmas meal // Homemade lentil soup // Joining the Gym // Winchester Christmas Market // Making mince pies // Graduating from my Masters // Christmas Crispie Cakes // Home for Christmas // Warming my toes on Christmas Day // Christmas Dinner//

I did so much more, but I won't bore you! I had a lovely month and loved spending it with my nearest and dearest.

I hope to do a summary of 2013 in photos, but I won't have time to do that until the new year due to commitments - sorry!

Send me your monthly summary links so I can see what you got up to!

Note: I know I put two photos of Winchester Christmas Market on this! Apologies - it's been a busy week. I hope you'll forgive me!


Monday, 23 December 2013

Walking in a Winter (Winchester) Wonderland

Last Sunday I went to Winchester Christmas Market on the spur of the moment. Having been for the last two years, I was determined not to miss out on it this year, and so when the opportunity arose I grabbed it with both mitten-clad hands and jumped.  Visiting the market just over a week before Christmas was sure to make me feel even more festive than I already did!

Winchester is a true beauty spot nestled in Hampshire, full of traditional houses, grand architecture, high-end shops and delicious restaurants. If you love to shop in all the best stores (think The White Company, Debenhams, Russell and Bromley and Whittards) then it really is a dream come true, especially around this time of year when you have gifts to buy! It was a treat to visit Winchester when I was a student as it was slightly more expensive than my student residence, but now that I am working I can enjoy what the city has to offer even more – and maybe buy myself a few goodies along the way.

On that note, one of my favourite shops is in Winchester. The Hambledon is a gorgeous building crammed with high-end gems; fragrant candles, beautiful and individual kitchenware and quirky gifts can be found scattered around this store. It’s always very welcoming and I often find myself strolling through the rooms lusting after everything!

The beautiful Christmas selection at the Hambledon this year!

Another of my favourite shops is Montezumas. Montezumas make the most delicious chocolate – I am a HUGE fan of their giant milk chocolate buttons, but they also have some very niche flavours. You can buy their chocolate in some department stores but this is the first place I’ve found a whole shop dedicated to their delights, so whenever I go to Winchester I make a beeline for the shop!

Anyway, let’s get back to the real reason I’m writing this!

The day started off incredibly wet and windy. Unfortunately I didn’t notice this until I was halfway to the railway station.  Before I had even arrived my hair was plastered to my head – I had not thought to take an umbrella – but my brand new New Look boots were keeping my feet lovely and dry! This weather was not to dull our Christmas spirit.

This year (probably due to the rain) there was no queue, and we got into the market very quickly. Like every year, there was mulled wine, stolen and bratwurst for sale as well as plenty of locally-made goodies like candles, decorations and jewellery. I had to stop myself from buying all of the food available! But as you can imagine, the smell was intoxicatingly sweet.

After walking around to see what was on offer, we treated ourselves to spicy potato wedges, German smoked sausage and French mulled wine with cherry and ginger. The mulled wine was delicious and I could have drunk more than one cup! However, I’m not a huge fan of the sausage – next time I think I’ll stick with the wedges alone! We also treated ourselves to some hot fudge brownies and cream which were a little disappointing - if you do go, be sure to opt for the hot chocolate instead! After all this I felt very full though and ready for a proper shop.

Presents were bought from the cute little huts in the Cathedral grounds (jams, cured meats and candles abound) and free samples were devoured with vigour – there were some incredible homemade curry sauces that I wish I had bought!  After traipsing around the market and cathedral grounds so many times, we decided the weather had got the better of us and headed back to the train station to go home for a hot shower and delicious home-made curry (unfortunately not with one of the sauces we sampled, but still very good!)

On our way back to the station we were treated first to the seasonal sounds of a choir in the Cathedral entrance, and I enjoyed a few carols for a couple of minutes – I couldn’t wait to go home and sing carols in my own local church! Then, a few moments later, we found ourselves watching a fantastic brass band playing upbeat Christmas songs! They were fantastic! It was a real joy to see people getting into the spirit of things, raising money and enjoying the company of others.

I had a lovely day in Winchester ad despite the rain, felt very festive. If you haven’t gone this year, make sure you go in 2014 – next time, I’ll be ice skating!


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Great Christmas Jumper Hunt

My office is taking part in Save the Chrildren’s Charity Christmas Jumper Day on Friday 13th December and with that just a couple of days away I thought I would share with you my search for the prefect Christmas jumper!

This year, Christmas jumpers seem to be all the rage. Everyone has one, and those who don’t, want one.  From the gaudy (Primark have excelled themselves this year) to the quirky (Christmas cats anyone?) and to the stunningly traditional, there’s something for every personality out there this festive season.

After being told I needed one this year for the Christmas Jumper day at my new job, as well as for Christmas day (my sister has insisted on wearing them for the big day this year!) I went on a knitwear mission.

After browsing online, I found a few little gems to choose from, and I thought I would share some of them with you!:

1. H&M £24.99; 2. Boohoo.com, £15; 3. Tu at Sainsbury's, £22; 4. Next, £28;

To my frustration, many of my choices had sold out in the Black Friday sales, and I was forced to wander the streets of my local town during my designated Big Christmas Shop on Saturday to try and find one that I would be happy to wear pretty much non-stop over the next few weeks.

In the end, I found this gem, and bought it without a second thought:

There were two great things about this jumper. The first is that it is identical to one I wanted from Boohoo which sold out before I could get my mitts on it. The second is that it was a bargain at just £10! I was sorely tempted by the 2 for £15 offer, but none of the others appealed to me, sadly.

I really like the fairisle design and have been wanting a jumper like this for the last year. Originally, I purchased a red one, but found it had a hole in it. The shop happily exchanged it for a green one without any trouble (very good service!) and though this is a M/L, It's so cosy and I don't have to worry about it being too tight and riding up embarrassingly. I'm hoping to get my hands on more fairisle goodies this Christmas!

For those of you wondering where I got it from, I’m afraid it‘s not a bit national store. I bought it from a cheap clothing store called ‘Eyelight’ in the Marlands Shopping Centre, Southampton. However, my top tip is to try these small independent cheap clothing shops for Christmas jumper, because you are likely to find something cute and cosy for a budget price!

I am very excited to get into the festive spirit this year and will no doubt be wearing this 24/7 over the Christmas period! Watch out for a photo of me wearing it at work, which will no doubt pop up on my instagram - you can follow me @jefisher90.

Share your links in the comments if you’ve posted about Christmas jumpers, or have a photo of yours! I can’t wait to see them.


Monday, 9 December 2013

The Christmas Tag

This is my favourite time of year, and not just because of Christmas; cold winter mornings, frost on the grass, the chill on your cheeks and wrapping up in warm layers. But of course...Christmas is an added bonus!

So, to enter into the spirit of things (I have noticed my complete lack of Christmas-themed posts on my blog!) I've decided to take part in The Christmas Tag, which I have stolen from the lovely Cally at Clothes Circus

1) Do you prefer a real or synthetic tree?

I have always grown up with a real tree. My parents are sticklers for the little traditions and I wouldn't change it for the world. Yes, they are a pain to maintain; they shed needles like nobody's business and can die before Christmas has even finished. However, none of this can take away the amazing smell they bring into a room of fresh pine. To me, that's Christmas. We always decorate it just over a week before the big day. Though I always remember the trees being bigger...or maybe I have grown!

However, in my current House, away from Home (I work away from my family home) we have just put up a synthetic tree which looks amazing and won't drop needles on the floor! I love it; it's the perfect size and fits in our living room just right.

This year's synthetic tree at my new house is already up!

2) You're in a coffee shop, it's December, what do you pick?

On any old day of the week, I'll go for a Mocha, or a Chai Latte. A Chai Latte is almost like Christmas in a mug, especially if you get a well-made one! However, for Christmas I have to indulge in the standard Costa or Starbucks specials; I particularly like Costa Coffee's Hot Spiced Apple drink, which makes a lovely change from all of the milk-filled rich drinks and satisfies my sweet tooth! I also like their Black Forrest Hot Chocolate (with cream and syrup, of course!) and Starbucks Orange Hot Chocolate is delicious too, though I aim to try more before the season is out!

My new Christmas favourite courtesy of Costa Coffee

3) What's your favourite colour scheme for decorating the tree?

At home we usually go for plain white lights (warm, not bright white) and a whole host of decorations - many from years ago, heirlooms and new treasures. We feel simple is best.
In my house here, however, our tree is adorned with  multi-coloured lights and gold baubles. It looks stunning and glows brightly! However, if I had to choose, I'd go simple every time. No pinks or purples or holographic fake trees; just golds, reds, greens and silvers.

4) Buying presents or receiving them?

Buying presents for others wins every single time. Of course I like to receive gifts and appreciate everything I get at Christmas and throughout the year.  But nothing beats finding the perfect present and seeing the response on the face of a loved one. Every year I am determined to find something my family and friends will love, and much like that John Leis advert back in 2011, I get more excited about giving than receiving on the day!

5) Mince pies?

Of course! Especially my mum's homemade ones warmed up with cream.

6) What's your traditional Christmas lunch?
Turnkey, sprouts, all kinds of veg, pigs in blankets, lashings of gravy, crispy roast potatoes and cranberry sauce. Delicious. Then we have homemade christmas pudding or rich chocolate yule log (I am not ashamed to say I normally have both!)

Last year's Christmas Dinner (before I went mad with the gravy!)

7) Christmas day fashion
I love making an effort for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day (aside from the year I wore my new onesie all day boxing day after work). I normally wear any new clothes I get given, or something special like a new dress or playsuit. Boxing day calls for comfort, so I'll normally go for something like leggings!

This year I've been told we're all wearing very cheesy Christmas jumpers on the big day, so I have to hunt one down!

8) What's your favourite Christmas song?
That's a tough one. I like so many when I'm in a different mood; I love the Pogues' 'Fairytale of New York' and 'All I Want for Christmas is You', plus 'Step Into Christmas'. Anything I can sing loudly to. However I am also a big fan of the traditional Christmas Carol, which takes me back to years of performing in Nativity plays and attending carol concerts. 'Once in Royal David's City' has been a favourite since I performed it as a solo for a number of Nativity performances when I was younger, as well as 'Oh Come all Ye Faithful'. It's so hard to choose!

I did find this Coldplay cover of 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' which is just beautiful; I urge you to take a listen, it'll really get you in a Christmassy mood!

9) What's your favourite Christmas film? 
I'd like to put something out there. I've never seen 'Home Alone'. Sorry!
I LOVE 'Elf', 'It's a Wonderful Life' and 'The Polar Express', but my ultimates have to be my childhood favourites, 'The Snowman' and 'Father Christmas'

Here's one of the songs from 'Father Christmas' sung by the late Mel Smith - you can watch the whole film on YouTube! (I can't embed that though, sorry!)

"Happy Bloomin' Christmas!'

10) Open presents before or after lunch?
We spread it out. Our main gifts are opened before breakfast; straight out of bed and down to the tree! Then if we see family, we open theirs later in the day. We also keep 'Tree Presents' for later in the evening and on boxing day; these are small tokens, just little extras.

What do YOU do for Christmas? Let me know! Post your links to your Christmas Tag answers so I can read them.


Saturday, 7 December 2013

Adventures in Aarhus: Marselisborg Mindeparken

Bright an early on a Sunday morning, we looked out upon a beautiful winter’s day in Aarhus, Denmark. The sun, which usually hid behind a smothering of grey cloud, shone brightly, complementing the cool, crisp air, and we couldn’t wait to get outside and enjoy our final day in the city.

The view from Ellie's room in student accommodation

Ellie had mentioned a deer park, or mindeparken, just outside of the city, and we wrapped up warm ready for a brisk walk in the Danish countryside.  As we made our way to the bus station in the city centre, we ended up getting distracted by one of Ellie’s favourite shops, and spent a lengthy amount of time browsing and buying (though you’ll have to wait until after Christmas for my haul, as it would spoil a few presents!).

Having finally finished in the shops, we got onto the bus and travelled out of the city into the beautiful suburbs, with its skeletal trees, fresh green grass and pavements coated in leaves. We finally made our way to the park, which was right by the sea, and was absolutely stunning.

The park's true name is Marselisborg Mindeparken, near to the summer palace of the royal family. We didn't see the palace, but I definitely would make sure I found it if I went again.  There is also a monument elsewhere to the Danes who lost their lives in the First World War. You can find out a bit more about the park, and memorial park, HERE.

This was the sort of place my family and I would love to go for our Christmas day / boxing day walk. The floor was strewn with orange leaves, and we were surrounded by so many tall trees. We were joined by many families, and it seemed to be a local destination for Sunday walks for many in the area.

As soon as we entered the park, we encountered a large herd of deer, complete with a very dominant stag who certainly made his presence known! The deer were relatively tame, providing you offered them a carrot or two! Unfortunately we had forgotten any food, but watched as young children edged closer to the animals. We even got to stroke them ourselves, if we were gentle!

Once we’d watched the herd for a while, we climbed a steep hill to the very top, and found more deer and some impressive views. The sun was quite low in the sky which made for beautiful photographs, and we basked in its warmth for a bit, before walking around the park to explore the surroundings. 

Bronwen sunning herself

After a long walk, we decided that we were hungry , and walked back along the shore line to the nearest bus stop. Though it was cold, it was absolutely stunning, and a really lovely place to wander.

Red-cheeked and windswept, we chatted excitedly about our next destination – the cake buffet we had been eagerly awaiting all day! They say an army marches on its stomach – and it seems we do too!


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Adventures in Aarhus: ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum

Last week my friend Bronwen and I packed up our tiny hand-luggage bags, wrapped up warm and got on a plane to Aarhus, Denmark. The aim: to visit our dear friend Ellie, who is studying the first of her two year Master's course out there at the moment. Not only was it a chance to see her after months apart, but it was an excuse to experience a new country and to take a four day break away from our new jobs - my last holiday being over two years ago!

After having planned our trip two months ago, the hotly anticipated day arrived, and I traveled up to London to stay with Bronwen after work. Due to our travel plans, we only had time for an hour's nap on a sofa before we were up and out in the cold, ready to begin our adventure. After catching two night buses to Victoria Station, and falling asleep (finally) on the coach to the airport, we left Stansted at 7am on Friday 22nd November, satisfied by a breakfast of raspberry doughnuts, Starbucks hot chocolate and savoury croissants...of course!

After watching the sunrise about the clouds and forgoing sleep due to a heated debate in the seats in front of us, we landed in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. Aarhus airport was, it seemed, a shed in the middle of a field. Bronwen said it looked like 'the sort of place you'd expect to see Yogi Bear' - and she was right. Evergreen trees surrounded the big empty airfield, and no signs of city life could be seen. As we walked through the airport we grew more and more excitable, and couldn't wait to experience a new place.

Our arrival in Aarhus was followed by a long bus journey into the centre of the city, before we reached our home for the next three days. We admired Ellie's student accommodation, which she had decoated with pictures of loved ones, candles and rugs, before we promptly took a long nap. Our first night in Denmark was filled with catching up with Ellie and attending a party held at her university to celebrate a project she had led. This meant meeting all of her friends from all over the world, and experiencing a pure overload of Europop! It was a great start to our trip, and we couldn't wait for our next full day.

Aarhus is a beautiful city, with its streets branching out into little side-alleys full of colourful cottages, cobbled roads and bicycles and wiry plants. The Christmas lights sparkled even in the midday winter gloom and the paths were smooth and grey with the remnants of that morning's rain.

If you’re anything like me, the first thing you want to do in a new city is to absorb the culture. You’ve already seen on this blog my trips to the British and Natural History Museums, so you’ll know I’m a huge fan of exhibitions and the arts. It comes as no surprise to you, then, that one of my absolute favourite moments of the weekend (though I really can’t choose, to be honest) was our trip to the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum (art museum) on our first morning.

The museum itself is a strange mixture of tradition and modernity which sits proudly high above other buildings not far from the river. At ten storeys tall, and being named as one of the biggest art museums in northern Europe, we knew this was going to be a very worthwhile visit. The first thing we noticed was the incredible rainbow section on top, and after seeing figures moving inside and being told we’d be able to go up there, we couldn’t contain our excitement! 

The building is designed with ‘hell’ at the bottom and ‘heaven’ at the top (hence the rainbow walkway). As we walked in, a huge white spiral staircase dominated the building, emphasising the idea of ascent and descent.  After purchasing our tickets and leaving our coats and scarves in the free cloak room, we made our way right into the depths of the gallery to find the first exhibition of many.

The first exhibit we saw was the ‘Nine Spaces’ which is a series of installation art in rooms of pitch black. The nine, we were told, refers to Dante’s nine circles of hell in his Divine Comedy, with each room being developed every year or so. Here we saw various fascinating ideas; a huge projection of a disembodied face in a ‘tank’, sitting like a giant, terrifying specimen. There was also a fascinating concept where a large white obelisk was connected to a telescope in Japan which recorded the death of a star; every time a star died, a light would flash and fade on the sculpture, creating a beautiful and serene pattern, combining science and art. There was also a mirror room which was great fun and very disorientating. 

Other exhibits included work by Tal R entitled ‘The Virgin’ involving brightly coloured, childish and playful works of art, including collages and patchwork quilts, and an exhibition of art by the Danish royal family (which I admit we found a little odd!) One of my favourites was Kay Christiensen’s ‘The Eternal Fairytale’, which featured ethereal art which focused on dark settings featuring pale, ghostly figured. I found it eerie yet beautiful, and loved the fact that it was by a well-renowned Danish artist, and therefore not what I would see in London, for example. We were able to really take our time around the building, and explored each of the ten floors in their entirety, really making the most of our chance to see some really unique art.

A peek into the work of Danish artist Kay Christiensen
One of the main attractions was a giant statue of a semi-naked boy. I have never seen anything quite like it! It is an installation called 'Boy' by Australian artist Ron Mueck, and weighs over 500kg; a truly gargantuan work of art. Apparently it is the symbol of the art museum and understandably attracts a lot of attention. I couldn't believe the detail in the piece, with all folds of skin, wrinkles and hairs precise and life-like. It was, I admit, slightly creepy. Some of you may recognise the sculpture from its original home in the Millennium Dome, before it found it's home in Aarhus.

The detail of the sculpture was astounding.
When we made it to the top of the building, we headed towards the rainbow walkway, which is in fact an installation entitled 'Your Rainbow Panorama' by Ólafur Elíasson. It was absolutely stunning and a lot of fun. We were able to see the entire city whilst enjoying the colour changes. It put a new perspective on city life and added a very playful element to what would have otherwise been a pure tourist attraction. It was one of my main highlights of the whole trip, and the photos I took just don't do it justice:

We drank in the view of the city, combined with the stunning colours that changed as we made our way around the roof. As you can imagine, we took our time; it was somewhat dizzying to be up so high with only a wall of glass to protect you!

Having made the most of our time at the museum, we made our way down the winding drizzly streets of Aarhus to find a coffee shop where we could mull over the day’s experiences with a hot chocolate and pastry in hand.I couldn't remember the name of the coffee shop we found, but their hot chocolate was rich and fresh, and the strawberry and rhubarb pastry was perfect for a chilly afternoon snack.

If you are ever in Aarhus, for any reason, I really recommend visiting the museum. It is one of the city’s pride and joys, and for good reason. It was so good to see art from a new perspective, and I felt that there were so many pieces that you wouldn’t find in the UK. It was the perfect introduction to our time in the city.

After our cultural education and pastry treats, we visited a few shops before our stomachs grumbled. We were ready for dinner – but I'll save that for another blog post!