Preparation

Chocolate, Christmas, Seasons, Treats

DECEMBER – IT’S HERE BOYS AND GIRLS!

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I kind of had a guess things would be moving on Sunday…

the first candle on the Advent wreath….lit

lights dangling like icicles off the Lowry shopping mall ceiling

festive drinks on sale both inside and outside the mall,

at least one Christmas tree at each venue I passed

smells of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves floating in the air

as people lined up for a cup of mulled wine or festive hot cocoa

the cold snaps come quick – you could break bits off it

like candy floss – cinder toffee – air mints

and all the while – bright lights colour the night sky

but it was all confirmed this afternoon

in a flickering of festive lights….

Dad’s put up the Christmas Tree.

Seasonal Scents

Christmas, Seasons

In Response to Seasonal Scents

As I write from my Suburban Terraced House in Salford, Lancashire – I’m reminded we’re still in Winter in Britain. Although the religious festival of Lent has arrived early, which normally means the onset of Spring – there’s a definite nip in the air.

Winter is hanging on for dear life

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The smell of pine leaves was abundant around the streets around Christmas time, as was the all too familiar scent of Warm Minced pies, which were in every kitchen where a Christmas Dinner was served. Mulled Wine released the festive smells of Cinnamon , Nutmeg and Cloves in the Christmas Markets and it warmed the hands and the hearts of those who drank it as they walked around the festive stalls.

The Smell of Mulled Wine has been boxed away till next Christmas season, leaving a gap for wintry treats of hot chocolate to take its place.

Wafting aromas of chocolate, mint, caramel and orange travel up the nose. A perfect remedy for the last of the winter weather. As I write, the weatherman on the BBC announces not just Frost on the way – but Snow! So much for the Mercury rising. I’ll wait to see what Mother Nature delivers in the week.

And as Christmas is remembered, but not forgotten. Churches fill the air with scented candles as preparations are made for Easter time. One definite smell of Lent – the smell of the incense from the incense burner at Holy Week, Not for a while yet – but the candles are doing their best to fill the air with a Lenten smell.

The Christmas Market

Christmas, Holidays, Memories, Winter

10 December 2010

The Christmas Market

The beginning of the Christmas season, for me, always starts when the first frost hits the fallen leaves from Autumn, which are lying on the ground. This year, it coincided with the first of the festive celebrations at the northern branch of the Imperial War Museum, where I am involved as a volunteer.

Having carefully navigated the icy pathways leading to the museum, I climb the stairs to the Main Exhibition Space as familiar faces from the museum say hello. I’m then passed a cup of cheer in the form of a festive mulled wine, a welcoming sight for someone trying to take on Amundsen at his own game. It primarily relieves my hands from the cold snap outside, which was so cold it had left an ice sheet creeping beyond Ontario Basin. Indeed, it was cold.

As the cup warmed my fingers, the mulled wine’s aroma hit my nostrils. A wonderful mix of festive smells greeted me, travelling slowly up my nose and warming the back of the throat. First came the scent of the cinnamon. It was spicy and warming. Then, the smell of the nutmeg, and fruity flavours – it was Christmas in a cup…A perfect accompaniment for the Mince pie, which was both fruity and warm. Christmas had arrived.

We chatted and talked, as we finished our drinks, before leaving the museum and heading for the new home of BBC North – Media city UK, where our festive carriage awaited. I make sure I’m wrapped up warm before leaving the museum. The Cold still bites. Thankfully, no sooner as we get there does the tram arrive at the platform.

I watch from a window as our golden carriage travels down the line. We pass through the Quays and Manchester central. The Night air crisp, filled with stars and Christmas lights. People are out in the town, celebrating. Then, the tram stops at our destination. It brings back familiar memories. As we walk the short distance from the St Peters stop to the market, coloured festive lights lead the way.

I look above me at the Town Hall clock and spot Father Christmas sat happily on the town hall roof, where he brightly lights up the night sky. Familiar sights and smells greet me and my friends, various stalls selling almonds and roasted hazelnuts. Fudge and pancakes. The smell of Aromatic sausages mixes with Intoxicating Hot rum punch, full of fruit and spice. Once again the smells of Christmas fill the air and I can smell the scents of citrus and marzipan hanging around the stalls.

In a corner of the market is a Swiss clock maker, his cuckoo clocks chime so I check my watch, the clocks have chimed the quarter hour.

Amongst the shoppers I can hear the distant sound of an Oom-pah band playing by the Bavarian Beer house, but it’s being drowned out by the sound of that song by Noddy Holder. I pass the toy stall and reminisce about when I was younger….You know, I Had one of those as a kid.

We can hear the staff singing and chatting in a nearby bar – They’ve got the right idea, there’s a definite nip in the air. It’s time for a hot drink me thinks. Our small group like a band of brothers head for the warmth of a nearby coffee house. A Warm Cup of Minted Hot Chocolate is waiting. It is both satisfying and warming at the same time.

The tea is just as nice. I order a pot – it’s got one of those funny teabags in it. Ah well, I chuckle, it is Starbucks after all.

The cuppa puts the evening to bed. A very pleasant time has been had in the company of my chums in the volunteer squad but my bed awaits – I make a bee line for the Metro Stop. Christmas Dinner waits at the Museum come Sunrise.