Melrose & Croc, Together at Christmas, by Emma Chichester-Clark

I’m an unabashed collector of books of all kinds – particularly Picture Books. I am drawn to Picture Books like a Magpie is to shiny things. I love the marriage of words and pictures. I love sharing stories with children. I love the humour and playfulness that Picture books often contain, and as a writer, I particularly admire the skill of the illustrator, at adding so much of the magic.

A small percentage of Picture Books are both written and illustrated by the same person. I would absolutely LOVE to be in this category, but sadly, my drawing skills are woefully deplete.

Emma Chichester Clark is one such talent – and there is a particular book that comes out again and again at Christmas in our house – first being enjoyed by my own children, and now by the children I look after.

It’s the story of two strangers, Melrose and Croc, who come to the big city. Both are lonely and looking for a friend.

Like all good stories, things go from bad to worse for both of them – especially Croc!

Until lovely music draws them both to the ice-skaing rink…

…where they are destined to bump into each other!

And the two lonely strangers become best of friends.

This sweet book will always be a favourite of mine. And it could partly explain my deep affection for Labradors…

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post.

12 more sleeps till the big day!

Reflections on ‘The Snowman’, by Raymond Briggs

Boxing Day, 1982. I had just turned eight years old. And something magical was about to happen.

‘The Snowman,’ a British animated film and symphonic poem directed by Dianne Jackson and based on Raymond Brigg’s delightful 1978 picture book, was first broadcasted to the British Public, on Channel Four.

It instantly won the hearts of viewers everywhere. With it’s hauntingly beautiful music, composed by Howard Blake, fantastic animation, and slightly poignant ending – the whole 26 minutes was just enthralling to me as a wide-eyed child.

It has since become something of an annual Christmas event! The Snowman is now televised every year, on Channel Four, normally on Christmas Eve.

Growing up, I became an avid fan, and vividly remember watching the version which featured David Bowie, (a huge fan of Raymond Briggs) with my little brother, John. Bowie, played the grown-up version of the boy featured in the animation, and as viewers, we found out that it was all true, and not just a dream, because grown up Bowie still had the scarf that was given to him by Father Christmas at the snowman’s party!

Collecting all things Snowman, soon became a craze.

Given by my parents, on one enchanted Christmas day!

I don’t remember the year that I was given these lovely Royal Doulton figurines…or whether I received them all at one time. But I do remember being absolutely thrilled with them, especially with the Snowman Musical Box, which plays a magical rendition of “We’re Walking In the Air’ as the Snowman pirouettes round and around. Quite delightful!

.These figures have been loved and admired and cherished for many years! And amazingly are all still in incredible condition.

Just look at this beautiful plate too!

Aaah, I’m feeling very nostalgic just looking at these.

I hope you’ll agree, they are beautiful keepsakes – and I know that my own children will cherish them some day too.

What are some of your childhood Christmas Memories? I’d love to hear from you!

Doggie Decorations!

Most of you will know by now, that we have recently welcomed a new addition to our family!

Meet Amber, our Fox Red Labrador!

Now…there was much debate this year about whether we should bother putting up a Christmas Tree. I wasn’t sure how a 17 week old pup would respond to a twinkling tree full of inviting looking baubles.

My daughter Grace convinced me to at least give it a try – with a promise that if the whole affair was a complete disaster, that she would help me pack the tree away again!

Well, I am delighted to announce that almost 2 weeks later, the tree is still standing – and still intact! Granted, there has been a little bit of bauble bopping going on here and there. But on the whole, this Labrador has been extremely well behaved!

I’m also delighted to share with you these delightful decorations that just arrived in the post today, courtesy of the wonderful Etsy based ‘Brown Bear Interiors!’

Aren’t they just the cutest?

Needless to say, I am over the moon with them! For me, Christmas is all about the little things. And these ‘little things’ just about made my day!

How about you, dearest reader friends? Do you have any photos or stories about pets at Christmas time? I’d love to hear from you!

Penhaligon’s Scented Christmas Treasury

I’ll let you into a little secret – today is my birthday! Hooray!

Birthday’s and Christmases throughout childhood, for me, always, ALWAYS meant books! Whether it was a brand new bundle of Notebooks for scribbling down my stories, or the next instalment of the Anne of Green Gables series, it was always such a pleasure to open a gift that kept on giving!

One such book was given to me, by my mum – oooh, many moons ago now. I can’t have been much older than 16, so this book has been on my shelf for over 30 years now! And it still brings joy every time I take it out of it’s hardback case and have a look through.

The ‘Penhaligon’s Scented Treasury of Verse and Prose’ is a wonderful collection of all things Christmas, containing extracts from ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘Little Women’, plus all sorts of illustrated Carols and Poems – to name but a few! It even features a traditional Mrs Beeton recipe for Christmas Pudding!

‘Little Women’ remains one of my all time favourite childhood stories!

Penhaligon’s is a British Perfume House, founded in the late 1860’s by William Henry Penhaligon, a Cornish Barber who moved to London and became the Court Barber and Perfumer to Queen Victoria.

It’s no surprise therefore, that one of the unique things about this stunning hard-back book, is that it is delicately perfumed ‘with spicy notes of cloves and cinnamon and small fir cones, it is reminiscent of hot toddies and log fires and guaranteed to add a festive air.’

The scent still lingers to this very day. But what I love best about it, is the beautiful Victorian style illustrations. Here is a sneak peek inside.

The quality of light in this picture, emanating from the tree, is just lovely!
Wonderful Christmas Treats!

This lovely book will remain on my shelf for always – and I’m sure will be loved and treasured for generations to come!

I hope you enjoyed looking at it as much as I did.