Monday, 21 December 2015

A Christmas Story - The Robin Redbreast


The Robin Redbreast

Jane had met Christian in her local coffee shop a couple of months ago, a rather friendly chap with a warm smile and a smooth and soothing rich tone to his voice that had made her turn around and notice him. They had struck up a friendship over a period of a month or so of regularly meeting for coffee, although they both liked to pretend that on each occasion it was by accident rather than by design. They had laughed and chatted the time away whilst sipping on their drinks and their rapport had not gone unnoticed by the owner of the shop who often witnessed budding romances struck up on the cosy premises.

One day, as they said goodbye, Christian had handed her a piece of paper on which he had written his mobile number and the accompanying words -

'I think you are a beautiful woman and I would like to get to know you better. A date away from the Coffee Shop? Call me! x'

Jane read the note and fell silent. Although she had delighted in their little meetings and looked forward to bumping into Christian it was quite something else to take this further. Since Michael had died she had not so much as considered being with someone else. Michael was forever at the forefront of her mind and now she felt guilty that she appeared to be having fun and enjoying the attention of another man.

She put the note in her coat pocket and contemplated what to do next. There was lots to consider, not least the feelings of Alfie, her son. As she left the coffee shop to collect him from school she didn't notice the piece of paper fall out of her pocket and into the gutter.

Later that evening she went to retrieve the note from her coat, frantically checking both pockets she was disappointed to find that she had lost it. Never mind, come Monday she would see Christian and explain to him why she hadn't called. She had thought long and hard and decided that the time was right to throw caution to the wind and finally start dating again.

Monday came and Christian wasn't there, sat in his usual spot. She asked the owner of the coffee shop if he had been in and she shook her head, no she hadn't seen him she replied. Day after day she visited the coffee shop wishing and hoping he would turn up but each day that he wasn't there she left crestfallen and annoyed with herself that she had lost his number and now he was gone.

He was probably embarrassed she told herself, he had taken a risk in asking for more and now he felt rejected. She didn't blame him but wished she had just been given a chance to explain. After a couple of weeks she stopped going to the coffee shop and had given up any hope of bumping into Christian again. Perhaps it was a sign that she wasn't ready for a new relationship after all ... Putting thoughts of Christian to the back of her mind she concentrated on giving Alfie the best Christmas ever.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Alfie looked out into the garden as the first snowflakes began to fall 'Mum, mum, it's snowing!'

Jane looked out of the kitchen window and saw the flakes were settling as they fell. 'So it is Alfie, dinner's ready can you come down and sit at the table please?' Just then she noticed a Robin Redbreast perched on the windowsill looking in, feeling comforted she knew this was Michael wishing her and Alfie a great Christmas. He had come every year on this day without fail.She smiled to herself. Her beloved Michael often visited throughout the year when she was busy in the garden but Christmas Eve was their special day.

Alfie was beside himself with joy, a snowy Christmas was all he had ever dreamed of. Santa coming with his presents, thick snow on the ground. It was going to a be a great Christmas. He bound down the stairs at full speed, almost bumping into Jane.

'Careful Alfie!'

'Sorry mum! Oh look AND a Robin Redbreast at the window. This Christmas is going to be so magical I just know it' he spoke excitedly.

Jane beamed at Alfie, it was indeed. She had saved up hard and managed to buy everything he had asked for, it would be worth it just to see the look on his face on Christmas morning. She had bought lots of his festive favourites too and she had planned that they would sit and watch films all day whilst indulging on the food and snuggling up together.

It was the fourth Christmas when it would just be the two of them without Michael to carve the Turkey like he had always liked to do. Their traditional Christmas Eve meal was macaroni cheese, Alfie loved it and was guaranteed to polish it off. They watched The Snowman which was Alfie's all time best film he declared.

The snow was falling thick and fast now and she was relieved they had no need to venture out.

That night she put Alfie to bed, they read 'The Night Before Christmas' and he soon drifted off to sleep. She kissed his cheek and stroked his hair. He looked so angelic lying there and wonderfully peaceful.

Pouring herself a glass of red wine, she demolished a mince pie and marvelled at how everything had come together this year, next year would be even better she could just sense it.

Christmas morning soon arrived and she was awoken to the sound of wrapping paper being ripped open in the bedroom next to hers, Alfie squealed in delight.

'Mummy! Look what Santa brought me!!' He was almost breathless with happiness. Seeing him so happy brought tears to her eyes and a warm feeling in the pit of her stomach. This was what Christmas was all about.

Pulling back the curtains he checked to see if the snow was still there. It was! He ran down the stairs still in his pyjamas and dressing gown, burst through the patio doors into the garden and rolled around in the pretty, soft white snow. Standing up he tossed it in the air and shouted at the top of voice 'I LOVE CHRISTMAS!'

Jane was a little alarmed, she didn't want him to catch a cold but at the same time didn't want to dampen his spirit.

Just then the Robin Redbreast landed on the kitchen windowsill, its usual spot, something was protruding from his beak. Aware of this fluttering Jane looked over in the direction of the noise and noticed a piece of paper beside the bird which it had now dropped. She carefully approached the Robin, but the Robin seemed unperturbed. Gently she picked the note up to see what it was, her heart missed a beat and then started to pound. It was Christian's note, the one she had lost month's ago. How could this possibly be?

She looked at the Robin Redbreast... whispering 'Michael, it is you isn't it?'  She could have sworn he winked back at her.

Merry Christmas!

Bettina x

Loved this story? Then please check out my debut novel - A Tempting Trio - Available now by clicking this link - http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011ZEUQZI

*An original work of fiction, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Top Five Foodie Gifts From Carluccio's This Christmas

Way back in July I had the pleasure of attending the Carluccio's Christmas Press Day where I got to try all the tasty treats that were to be the Christmas Gifts..today I share my top five foodie gifts.. whether for friends, family or yourself!


Clemente in Camicia £16.95 - Delicious candied Clementine pieces covered in dark chocolate.


Fichi Ricoperti £9.95 - Dark chocolate coated figs stuffed with walnut and candied orange peel. I couldn't get enough of these!


Stelle di Cioccolato £11.95 - Exquisite chocolate stars that will delight children and adults alike.


Prosecco e Gianduiotti £26.95 - A sumptuous boxed gift of Prosecco paired with smooth hazelnut chocolate.



Vin Santo e Cantucci £25 - Dessert is sorted with this pairing of a sweet dessert wine and honey and almond biscuits. A Tuscan classic.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Korres Party Survival Kit

The 'Korres Party Survival Kit of travel sized goodies contains everything you need the day after a night of partying, ideal for this time of year of endless Christmas parties and heading into the New Year. Small enough to pack into your toiletries bag these samples are generously sized for a few uses.



Contents 



Wild Rose Cream 24-hour  Moisturising & Brightening, SPF6 16ml 

I absolutely love this facial moisturiser. It smells a little bit like Dentyne Gum for those that remember it.. (cinnamon, but is blended with the delicate rose) and it does a SUPERB job of leaving skin moisturised and wonderfully bright. Honestly just after one application those who know me knew I had used something different on my skin and said I looked really well! Very tempted now by the full size version. 

A great product for the morning after the night before!

White Tea Fluid Gel Cleanser 16ml

The cleanser doesn't really have a scent as such but is a decent cleanser and it doesn't leave skin feeling tight or dry, just soft and clean.

Aloe & Dittany Shampoo 40ml

This shampoo smells lovely and did a good job of washing my hair.

Guava Shower Gel 40ml

A gorgeous and fresh scented shower gel that wakes up the senses, leaving skin soft.

Basil Lemon Body Milk 40ml

Completing the lineup is this fabulous body milk. It has a wonderful citrus scent that is spiked with basil so it's not overly sweet or citrusy. It is non greasy and dries in seconds leaving skin smelling delightful and skin super smooth and soft.

KORRES PARTY SURVIVAL KIT RRP: £19.00,  available to buy online from www.Debenhams.com

*PR Sample

December GlossyBox - The Rose Gold Edition

I absolutely love all things rose gold so I adore this pretty box that is December's Glossybox - The Rose Gold Edition. 

The contents are brilliant too! 


This month's box is a collaboration with beauty blogger Really Ree and is a cracker... I have just read that it has now sold out and I can see why.

The contents - Inside my GlossyBox 




Swatches of the makeup 



The products 

Etre Belle - Golden Skin Caviar Eye Roll On 

This arrived just in time, I have just finished my eye gel. This lovely roll on is really gentle on the eyes and does a great job of hydrating and brightening the eye area up. My tired eyes are immensely improved.

So Susan Statement Skin Highlighter Pencil 

I am all about dewy, glowing skin and one way to achieve this is by using a highlighter. I honestly don't know what I did before I started using them! You can see how lovely this one is from the swatch above. Radiance is so easy with this pencil crayon. Perfect for party season or in my case... all year round.

Cheeky Chat Me Up Nail Paint 

I received shade 'Sheer Delight' which is a pretty sheer nude pink. I don't think you can ever have enough nude shades in your collection and Cheeky polishes are pretty great so I was delighted to receive this colour.

Darphin 8 Flower Nectar Oil Cream 

This sample pot of cream turning into an oil texture is billed as an overnight wonder, imparting moisture and leaving skin feeling soft, smooth and supple. I haven't tried it yet but it smells absolutely heavenly.

Essence Liquid Lipstick in Show Off 

I have swatched the lipstick above, it is a full on bright shade and packs a punch with even coverage. I haven't tried anything from Essence so will be giving it a go very soon.

Bonus product

Starskin Bio-Cellulose Second Skin Mask 

I have never used a sheet mask so I am most curious to try this one from Starskin - There are four different versions addressing various needs. I was sent the Hydrating one, ready for my red carpet appearance. Well I won't be going near a Red Carpet anytime soon but I am saving this one for a special occasion when I could do with a real boost.

*PR Sample

Friday, 11 December 2015

Snow Queen Afternoon Tea at Conrad London St James

The Snow Queen Afternoon Tea from Conrad London St. James is really rather striking and sounds like a tasty affair full of deliciously delectable treats. 

The Conrad London St. James is situated across the street from St. James' Park Tube station and a ten minute walk from Buckingham Palace.

Afternoon Tea is served in the hotel's Emmeline's Lounge 


Snow Queen Afternoon Tea 


The Menu 

Selection of Savouries

London cured smoked salmon blini, caviar, lemon crème fraîche
Mini tartlet of cropwell bishop stilton & poached pear
Prawn cocktail, marie rose
Selection of fingers sandwiches


Freshly Baked Plain & Raisin Scones 

Served with Devonshire clotted cream, homemade strawberry jam & winter berries curd

Cakes & Pastries 

Snowstorm 
Coconut cream, mint macaroon, candy floss 

The Magic Mirror 
Salted butter shortbread, yogurt cheesecake, frosted blueberries 

Snow Queen’s Sceptre 
Chocolate & pearl sponge, praline ganache, snowflake lace 

Palace Snowflakes
Blackcurrant & cardamom cake, crushed glittering meringue 

Blackberry Kisses 
Crème patisserie & blackberries


Afternoon Tea costs £39 per person 

Free Flowing Champagne Afternoon Tea costs £55 per person 

*Discretionary service charge of 12.5%

The Snow Queen Afternoon Tea is available until 11th February 2016*

To book - For more information or to book a table at Emmeline's Lounge please call 020 3301 1400 or email tea@conradstjames.com or book online at their website. 

* In January, Conrad London St. James will be offering an exclusive 25% off their Snow Queen Afternoon Tea at afternoonteaonline.co.uk. This is available on weekdays only.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Hotel Chocolat Christmas Gifts and Chocolates This Christmas

The gift of chocolate is ideal for Christmas for the chocolate lover and I can't think of a better box selection than this one from Hotel Chocolat - The Everything Collection 


The Everything Collection box 


Contents 


Billionaire's Shortbread x 6  - My absolute favourite - featuring caramel, smooth hazelnut and crunchy cookies, sublime.

Little Cheesecakes x 4 - caramel, lemon and strawberry with mascarpone cheese - yum!

A bag of 40% Milk Puddles - lovely circles of creamy milk chocolate (my 7yr son loved these)

A bag of Salted Caramel Puddles - These are delicious and a teeny bit crunchy from the salt.

The Brownie x 6 - Rich chocolate brownies, I love rich chocolate and these went down a treat.

And 3 super cute slabs of Milk Cocoa Cookies, Salted Caramel and 70% Dark Fruit & Nut.

This box really does contain something for everyone... or in my case I enjoyed the lot :)




Hotel Chocolat The Everything Collection box costs £25 

Hotel Chocolat also do some fabulous seasonal chocolate and I was sent two of their Christmas stocking filler packs.

Mulled Wine Selector x 6 £3.75 - These are proper grown up chocolates with a boozy punch of spiced Port.



Nutmeg Almond Praline Selector x 6 £3.75 - Gorgeously smooth and creamy praline balanced with real warming spiced nutmeg in 50% milk. I love the snowflake pattern.



*PR Samples 


Friday, 4 December 2015

The Body Shop White Musk EDT 100 ML Gift Set

Beautifully packaged gift sets are one of the bonuses of Christmas and is something that The Body Shop does particularly well.

I love this one featuring the iconic and best selling White Musk fragrance.

A white tub shaped parcel complete with a purple satin bow, slide the door across to reveal three fabulous and generous sized products from the White Musk collection and inside this lovely wardrobe is a purple striped interior.




How pretty!

What you get -

White Musk EDT 100ml 
White Musk Shower Gel 125ml 
White Musk Body Lotion 125ml 

For those of you unfamiliar with the White Musk scent it is an absolutely gorgeous light and clean fresh scent featuring a mix of notes including cruelty free musk, lily, iris, rose and vanilla.

The Gift Set costs £45 

Water Aid - With each sale of this selected gift The Body Shop will provide a day's safe water for a family in Ethiopia.

*PR Sample

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

The Perfume Shop - Gucci Guilty Gift Set - Christmas Inspiration

Think Christmas gifts and one of the top things on my list would be perfume and aftershave. At Christmas the stores are full of great value gifts sets that usually include an extra something for the same price as a single bottle of the chosen scent.




I love this Gucci Guilty Gift Set as the Gucci print pocket mirror is just perfect for my handbag and a bit different from the usual body lotion or shower gel that usually comes with these types of sets.

The clever people at The Perfume Shop matched me up with Gucci Guilty after I gave them a list of the types of perfume that I have liked and worn in the past.... so if you or the gift recipient likes these perfumes the chances are you or they will love Gucci Guilty.

Stella Mccartney,
Roberto Cavalli (the original)
Narcisco Rodriguez EDP
SI Giorgio Armani. 


Gucci Guilty EDT is described in the following way...
Gucci takes as a catalyst its iconic entwined Gs and brings us a heroine who regards this emblem as an incitement to subvert. For this most contemporary of rebels, Gucci is the brand of sex and power. In Gucci Guilty, this woman discovers the very scent of defiance.

Top notes
Mandarin, Pink Pepper
Heart notes
Peach, Lilac, Geranium
Base notes
Ambery Notes, Patchouli, Lilac, Geranium

The perfume is an oriental floral scent that is warm, sensuous and oozing glamour and class. The gold bottle is a mix of metal and glass in a sleek and elegant design that encompasses the classic entwined Gs. It also has that all important bathroom shelf appeal which one expects of the Gucci brand. 

I cannot believe I have never tried this gorgeous fragrance before, The Perfume Shop have helped me discover a new firm favourite. 

Gucci Guilty EDT 50ml Gift Set costs £53 from The Perfume Shop (This is a The Perfume Shop exclusive)

Visit the Christmas Shop today 

*PR Sample

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Christmas Carols Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester London

One of my favourite Afternoon Tea venues is The Dorchester. I have visited throughout the year but Christmas time is one of the nicest as the delightful Promenade where Afternoon Tea is served is beautifully dressed with traditional English festive decorations. 


The Christmas Carols Afternoon Tea features the resident pianist and children’s school choirs to get you well and truly into the spirit of Christmas.

Featuring a selection of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and delicious festive pastries such as a fruit cake Christmas present, a chocolate & chestnut winter land, a Dorchester snowman and mince pies.

Christmas Carols Afternoon tea is available at five sittings each day priced from £69 per adult including a glass of Champagne, and £35 per child (ages 5-11).

Available weekends from the 21st November to December 20th. 

To book your festive afternoon tea visit The Dorchester website for availability.

*Image courtesy of The Dorchester

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