It’s Almost Christmas Jumper Time

If I was to list my favourite things in no particular order, Christmas jumpers would definitely be in there somewhere. I have such fabulous memories of them, from watching Bridget Jones Diary for the first time and seeing the delectable Colin Firth in a knitted monstrosity, to the first time I met my brother-in-law, which just happened to be on Christmas Day, and that my first words to him were ‘nice Christmas jumper you have there.’ With my boy being a Christmas baby, a Christmas jumper is a must for him, although for a long time I resisted myself.

But now it seems that the humble Christmas jumper has become a bit of a national obsession, with Save the Children’s Christmas jumper day taking place each year to raise valuable funds for charity (this year’s Christmas jumper day takes place on Wednesday 13th December.) You can find a style to suit, with cute animal designs, football inspired jumpers, and my personal favourite, Christmas slogan jumpers.

I have compiled a list of some of this years favourite designs, including a couple from Arsenal FC modelled by the gorgeous Olivier Giroud, my ultimate man crush. There are also designs from M&Co, Marks and Spencer and Dorothy Perkins. Plus, if you really don’t do jumpers under any circumstances, Boden have very kindly created a stylish Christmas Breton which will look just fabulous with dark denim and a beany hat.

Whether you like your Christmas jumper to be subtle and sparkly, cute and cuddly, or festooned with a Prosecco theme, make sure you embrace your seasonal side on December 13th.

Mistletoe Christmas jumper
£29.00 Click to visit M&Co

Deck the halls embellished jumper
£29.00 Click to visit M&Co

Sequin robin christmas jumper
£29.00 Click to visit M&Co

Jingle bells jumper
£29.00 Click to visit M&Co

Sequin reindeer jumper
£29.00 Click to visit M&Co

The Christmas Breton 335 Click to visit Boden

Grey Polar Bear Roll Neck Christmas Jumper
Was £28.00 Now £21.00 Click to visit Dorothy Perkins

Black ‘Ho Ho Ho’ Slogan Christmas Jumper
Was £26.00 Now £19.50 Click to visit Dorothy Perkins

Charcoal Snowflake Embellished Jumper
Was £26.00 Now £19.50 Click to visit Dorothy Perkins

Grey Sequin Pearl Penguin Jumper
Was £28.00 Now £21.00 Click to visit Dorothy Perkins

Navy ‘Tis the season to sparkle’ Jumper
Was £26.00 Now £19.50 Click to visit Dorothy Perkins

DP Curve Navy Sequin Robin Jumper
£28.00 Click to visit Dorothy Perkins

Christmas Pudding Embellished Novelty Jumper £25.00
Click to visit M&S

Sparkle Novelty Round Neck Jumper £29.50
Click to visit M&S

And a few for the man in your life…

Stag & Lights Crew Neck Jumper
£25 Click to visit M&S

Novelty Crew Neck Jumper £29.50 Click to visit M&S

Novelty Crew Neck Jumper £29.50 Click to visit M&S

The Official Arsenal Mens Christmas Jumper £35 Click to visit Arsenal Official shop

Arsenal Mens Christmas Jumper £35 Click to visit Arsenal Official

PENGUIN JUMPER £30 Click to visit WBA Official

Preparing Your Garden For Spring

It has to be said that after a pretty disappointing Summer, September and October proved to be surprisingly mild, which meant there were further opportunities to sit in and enjoy our gardens. But with November we have the first frosts and temperatures that are only in single figures, and are dropping to freezing in the evening, it is safe to say that our gardens are going to see less use over the next couple of months. And this means now is the time to prepare our garden for the Spring by packing up the remnants of our Summer garden, and planning for the new features that will take their place come March/April.

Pack Away

The first thing to do is to pack away the things in your garden that can be wrecked and ruined by the cold weather. Garden furniture needs to be packed away, particular parasols, covered in protective plastic and stored in garden sheds. Ceramic planters can crack when the weather turns colder, so these need to be cleaned, with dead plants composted and the planters stored away ready for next year. Children’s garden toys will also be better stored away, although things like goalposts may still be used through the winter months, after all the Premier and football leagues currently play all through Winter, so these can be left, especially if they are weather proof Samba style goals.

Protecting Perennial Plants

Some plants are perennials, meaning that they come back year after year. These plants need protecting as they go into hibernation, particularly as you want them to come back next year.

Cut them back when the weather starts to turn colder and then mulch the soil to provide a protective covering. This should ensure the perennial plants come back stronger and healthier in the New Year.

Thinking ahead to Next Spring

Whilst everyone else is looking towards Christmas, it is actually the perfect time to invest in items like garden furniture and garden gazebos. Many of these items have big discounts during late Autumn and Winter, which means you can get something that could be practical in your Spring garden, or could completely change the look of it, at a very big discount.

Most garden gazebos will come packed well and are easy to store during the Winter months, but could also be used as a smoking shelter if you decide to have a party on New Year’s Eve and don’t want smoking in your home.

Another item that you can store for warmer days but can be picked up as a bargain now is a barbecue.  When Summer comes the price of these rise dramatically, particularly if we have a heatwave, but in Winter you can pick barbecues up so much cheaper and can simply store them in your shed or outhouse.

Despite the fact that it is now cold and is bound to get even colder, now is the time to look at your garden, see what you need to pack away, and then be forward thinking in your plans for 2018. When you are sitting in the Spring sunshine, admiring the perennials that have returned and enjoying the comfort of your new garden furniture, you will be glad you did.

Deathtrap At The New Alex Theatre – Deliciously Chilling

A famous, successful writer now suffering from writer’s block, a young student who has written the perfect play and a wife who is worried that her husband is about to turn killer. This is the exciting premise of Ira Levin’s Deathtrap, which opened at Birmingham’s New Alex Theatre last night. It was a deliciously chilliing night of theatre, with shocks and jumps galore, and enough twists and turns to keep the audience constantly on the edge of its seat. I loved it.

Sidney Bruhl is a successful writer who is now struggling to write a new play after the failure of his last effort. Married to the supportive Myra in a seemingly happy union, he receives a play through the post from an ex student who attended one of his seminars. The play is Deathtrap, and Sidney believes it to be perfect, and wishes aloud that he had wrote it as it is likely to be a big hit. When he finds that there are only two copies of the play, and that he already has one of them in his hands, he invites the student, Clifford Anderson, to his remote home to ‘work on the play’, but really has murder in mind. But who’s murder? The issue is made all the murkier by his neighbour, Helga ten Dorp, a famed clairvoyent with very strong extra sensory perception, especially when she enters the Bruhl’s house, where she has a strong sense of death. Deathtrap twists in one direction, and then another, as cross and double cross, surprising revelations and shocks galore lead to a satisfyingly macabre conclusion.

Deathtrap is made up of a cast of just five characters, and the ensemble cast in this version is brilliant. The Eastenders contigent of Paul Bradley (Sidney) and Jessie Wallace (Myra) have a fabulous chemistry that rings true as a married couple. Paul plays Sidney as a man who is deceptively cheery, amiable man who has an edge, when he loses his temper you can see that he could be capable of acts of violent. it is a great performance of someone who could turn on a pin. Jessie Wallace shows her range playing Myra, she is a world away from brassy Kat Slater, starting out the play with understated calmness, but becoming more frantic and then terrified as she faces the fact her husband could be a murderer. Only at the end of the terrible events of Act 1 does she show another side of her character, another surprising twist in a tale full of them.

Sam Phillips is also very good as Clifford Anderson, playing the character with idealised charm and innocence, until he is revealed to be anything but. Beverly Klein is hilarious as Helga ten Dorp, divinely overacting her ESP, and given all the best one liners that she delivers with perfect comic timing. The cast is round out by Porter Milgrim as the lawyer Julien Ball, who proves to be another character who has more facets than you immediately sense.

Deathtrap all takes place in one room, but the set never feels claustrophobic. This is due in no small part to the excerpts of classic movies that break up the scenes, and are a clue to what is really going on – a really clever device to move the action along.

Deathtrap is clever, cunning and utterly calculating. All this makes it a devilishly good night of theatre. Go See.

Deathtrap New Alex Theatre

Wednesday 8th – Saturday 11th November

Click here for ticket information