Didsbury flooding and Storm Christoph

I live in Didsbury and this quiet suburb in South Manchester has hit the news in the last 24 hours due to flooding. I’ve lived here all of my life and although the river does flood occasionally (more so in recent years), we have excellent flood defences. Despite living a 5 minute walk from the River Mersey for most of my life; I’ve always felt pretty safe from the floods.

I grew up in East Didsbury, which is a pretty low lying area. The road I grew up on was evacuated last night. I do remember as a child that the flood waters did once reach the end of the road closest to the river, but it never quite made it to our front door. Nevertheless, this memory of the flood has stayed with me. I don’t remember the river flooding much, the fields at Parrs Wood seemed to cope with the overflow then.

Didsbury flooding and Storm Christoph

For the last few days I’ve listened to the rain pour down. I’ve anxiously watched the river levels rise and last night the fire brigade knocked on our door and advised us to evacuate. Never in recorded memory has the River Mersey run as high as it did in the early hours of this morning. Never in recorded memory has the road I now live on flooded, so I knew things were bad.

I spent the early hours preparing to leave with my family and moving any precious or useful things upstairs. We packed up photos of my son; home-schooling things; medication and warm coats and boots in case we needed to get out. We packed overnight bags if we needed them too. I hoped we wouldn’t.

Didsbury flooding and Storm Christoph

At some point in the night, the relentless rain turned to snow. Thick fat snowflakes came down hard and fast and lay on the cars and the road like a luxurious carpet. I turned the light off, turned over in bed and watched my son sleep when I could not.

Outside was busy with emergency vehicles. Every so often I’d look out of the window and see the lights from the nearby primary school shining on the flood water on the field. I’d check Twitter and Facebook for news; check my phone to see if anyone I knew was evacuating and needed somewhere to stay. It was the strangest, most surreal night.

Didsbury flooding and Storm Christoph

Morning came and brought better news. Hundreds of people had been evacuated overnight, but I think everyone was safe from the flooding. The floods had crept a little closer to my house, but the water had receded and continues to do so, inch by inch, hour by hour.

The River Mersey had come within 2cm of breaching its banks, which would have been a disaster. The flood defences had worked and although the surrounding fields and flood plains will need a considerable amount of clean up over the next few weeks; Didsbury was safe from the worst of it all for now.

Didsbury flooding and Storm Christoph

Huge thanks to the Environment Agency, and the emergency services for keeping us all safe. It has been the strangest 24 hours.

If you are worried about flooding in your area, this government website gives up to date warnings and advice.

Recipe: Heart Shaped Danish Butter Biscuits

Valentine’s Day is the ideal opportunity to show off your baking prowess to any potential or existing beau. During these long lockdown days, we’ve been baking a lot more than usual, so we needed to come up with a romantic treat which is a bit different to our usual bakes. Step forward, heart shaped Danish Butter biscuits.

Danish Butter Biscuits are a real classic. I remember tins of them around my Grandmother’s house at Christmas time. They seemed so fancy and posh at the time, and so different to the hard biscuits of my childhood. Danish butter biscuits are soft and short and crumbly in all the right ways. They’re also pretty easy to make, the hardest part is piping them out; but if you don’t fancy doing that, you can just bake dollops of them and they still taste as good.

Recipe: Heart Shaped Danish Butter Biscuits

Heart Shaped Danish Butter Biscuits

Ingredients:
375g butter, room temperature
250g caster sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
500g plain flour
Milk (entirely optional)
Glacé cherries

Method:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla essence and mix in thoroughly.

Beat in the plain flour, I tend to do this in batches so the kitchen doesn’t get covered in a flour cloud. Once it’s all mixed in, you need to decide if your mixture is loose enough to pipe, or if it needs letting down a bit. My hands are a bit arthritic, so I added a couple of tablespoons of milk and beat the mixture again.

Heat the oven to 180° and line some large baking sheets with parchment paper. If you’re choosing to pipe your biscuits, select a wide piping nozzle and put in your piping bag. I prefer to use disposable piping bags and a Wilton 1M nozzle, but you use whatever you’re comfortable with.

Carefully pipe heart shapes onto your parchment paper. I used a knife to help poke them into shape as my piping was a bit rusty. Once you’ve piped a tray (leaving room for them to spread a little), pop a glacé cherry in the centre of each one and sprinkle them with a little extra sugar. Put them in the oven to bake for 12-15 minutes. You don’t really want them to get brown, because like shortbread, these Danish Butter biscuits are supposed to be pale and interesting.

Once you’ve removed them from the oven, leave on a cooling rack until they are properly cool. Resist the urge to eat them all, as you’ve baked them for your paramour, but maybe you could sneak one or two for yourself.

Recipe: Heart Shaped Danish Butter Biscuits

If you’re gifting them, wrap them in tissue paper and pop them in a box for your intended. If you’re keeping them all for yourself, they keep very well in a tin for a couple of weeks; though I doubt they will last that long.

If you enjoyed this, you might like to try;

Recipe: Heart Shaped Danish Butter Biscuits

Pet Care: Healthy eating for active dogs

This post is in conjunction with James Wellbeloved, but all images and opinions are our own.

Last month we celebrated four years of having our spaniel, Penny in our lives. She has been an excellent companion and comfort, and the best friend we could hope to have. Penny is a fairly low maintenance dog; as long as she gets a couple of good long walks each day, plenty of play and cuddles and a healthy diet, she’s as happy as can be.

Pet Care: Healthy eating for active dogs

She is however a terrible food thief. I’ll never forget the day she figured out how to climb onto the dining table to eat the food left on it. I’ve lost count of the number of packets of butter she has stolen off the counter, and say goodbye to any food you leave unattended and not locked away.

We’ve recently had to stop buying chocolate brioche because she was stealing and eating them. Chocolate is really bad for dogs and they were making her poorly. If it’s not nailed down or put away, she will eat it and that includes all the things she really shouldn’t eat, like chocolate.

Spaniels make excellent working dogs, they’re generally really active dogs; they love water and could keep running for days if you’d let them. They are also well known for being greedy and cockers especially are prone to putting on weight if you’re not careful. Because of this we feed her a varied diet including a good healthy dog food and sensible treats. She is full of energy and a healthy diet, tailored to her needs is essential to her continued good health.

Pet Care: Healthy eating for active dogs

Being an intelligent, lively, but still fairly greedy breed of dog; Penny has always responded really well to training with food. She is very motivated by food, but we try to be careful to not feed her too many treats. She gets a daily dental stick and a small handful of dried food out of her daily allowance as rewards for good behaviour throughout the day. Things like responding well to recall, walking to heel really well, or just looking at me with those big brown eyes of hers.

We do try and feed her a varied diet, I think she can get bored with the same meal twice a day; so we mix it up with different flavours and textures of natural dog food. About once a week she gets a tin of sardines in oil as a treat, which she loves. Lean meat and fish are a great addition to her diet; some veg is good too, though onions are toxic and should be avoided. We started giving her carrots when she was teething as a puppy and she still loves them. She has no qualms about stealing fallen apples from the tree in the autumn and snacking on them; (though we have to wrestle them out of her mouth, as the core and seeds of apples can be toxic to dogs).

She can be prone to an upset stomach, but this is down to her thieving nature rather than anything we actually feed her. Over the years we’ve just had to get better at putting things back in the cupboard or the fridge, rather than leaving them out and in the way of temptation.

One change I have made this year, is during the very hot summer I put out another water bowl for her upstairs. She seems to prefer the upstairs water bowl and I’m certain her water intake has increased as a result. Water is as good for dogs as it is for us, so lots of fresh clean water every day is vital in keeping her in fine fettle.

Pet Care: Healthy eating for active dogs

I’ve often thought that although she isn’t the dog I originally wanted; she is the dog I absolutely needed to help get me out and walking again. She’s helped me regain my confidence and some of my fitness following my operations; and she’s been great company for me while I’ve worked from home and throughout lockdown.

I couldn’t be without her now, and she absolutely deserves the best of whatever we give her. She thrives on good walks, lively company and the healthy dog food we feed her. She is an important part of the family and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Our top tips for feeding Active dogs

  • Don’t feed them anything toxic, like chocolate, onions, grapes and raisins.
  • Don’t overdo the treats, have a daily allowance and stick to it.
  • Make sure you’re feeding your dog the right amount; packets will have recommended portion sizes on them, if you’re not sure, check with your vet.
  • Keep it exciting; add in some lean meat, fish or vegetables if you have them.
  • Discourage begging at the table and them wanting to lick plates clean.
  • Some dogs can be sensitive to some ingredients; so watch out for upsets and speak to your vet if your dog is having digestive problems.
  • If you have a spaniel, put food back in the cupboard or fridge once you’ve finished, it’s safer that way.

Health: TestCard – the easy home UTI testing kit

Gifted. We were sent the TestCard UTI testing kit for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

It can feel a bit embarrassing, but most of us at some point in our lives get a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and some of us, if we’re really unlucky, can be especially prone to them. A UTI can be uncomfortable, and getting an appointment to see or speak to your GP can take a bit of time, so the new UTI home testing kits from TestCard can really help to speed up the process.

Health: TestCard – the easy home UTI testing kit

If you think you might have a UTI, the common symptoms are:

  • Pain or a burning sensation when peeing
  • Needing to wee more often than usual
  • Wee that looks cloudy
  • Lower stomach ache, or pain in your lower back
  • A temperature

The TestCard UTI Test Kit is really easy to use. You can order a kit online, or pick one up from your local chemist or supermarket; download the app (available from both the App Store or Google Play) and follow the simple instructions.

Your postcard sized testing kit contains two test strips, each carefully sealed and wrapped, ready for use when the time comes. The little kit also includes a set of instructions if you need them.

The UTI Test Strips are a bit like a dipstick, you just dip it into your urine sample briefly then use the smartphone app to scan your results. The app provides a detailed analysis of your urine, with results that will be easily understood by your GP.

The results screen will indicate a clear yes or no and will tell you if you need to seek medical advice and treatment. The results are completely private and secure; you are the only person who can decide if you want to share them with your doctor.

If you do have a UTI, the best thing to do is speak to your GP who will be able to talk to you about the best course of treatment for you; or prescribe some antibiotics to help clear up the infection.

Health: TestCard – the easy home UTI testing kit

Taking the test using TestCard is a very simple four step process.

1. Produce a sample of wee in a clean container. Open the test and scan the QR code using the app on your smartphone.

2. Dip the testing strip into your urine sample, but don’t go over the “max wet” line.

3. Hold the testing strip at the top, and then scan the strip using the app making sure you align the strip to the blue guides on the screen.

4. Check your result. At this stage you are given the option to share your results with a medical professional.

This is a really speedy and efficient way of helping to manage and take control of your own health. Being able to have the information you need when you speak to your GP can save so much time and help you get the treatment you need quicker.

The TestCard home UTI testing kit costs £10 for two testing strips, and is available to order online or from your chemist or supermarket. The app is free to download; the results are instant which can get you back on the road to good health or peace of mind in an instant.

For more information about TestCard, visit their website.

Days Out: A winter walk around Whalley Abbey

With Tier 4 about to be imposed, we slipped up to Lancashire for a winter walk around Whalley Abbey. Whalley Abbey is a former Cistercian Abbey and is a little under an hour long drive from my home in South Manchester; but worth the trip if you like ruined buildings, beautiful views and lunch at an excellent café.

gatehouse

We managed to visit on one of the snowiest days of the year, but Whalley Abbey looked extra beautiful in the crisp white snow. We were a little less keen to explore the ruins, given we couldn’t see the paths underfoot; but we respectfully wandered around the areas other people had trod before.

Whalley Abbey in Lancashire was established by Cistercian monks in the 14th Century, with building completed late in the 15th Century.

Days Out: A winter walk around Whalley Abbey

The Abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1537, as part of his dissolution of the monasteries. Its last Abbot, John Paslew was executed for his part in the Pilgrimage of Grace, a popular uprising in the North of England against Henry’s Reformation.

It’s unclear when the Abbey fell to ruin; but it must have been a useful source of stone for those in the village of Whalley. It is said that it’s possible to rebuild the Abbey entirely but half the village would fall down.

Whalley Abbey

The Abbey was sold by the Crown and converted into a private residence until its sale in the 20th Century to the Anglican Diocese of Manchester. It passed to the new Diocese of Blackburn on its founding. Under the care of the church, chapels were created in the house itself. The site of the Abbey church was excavated and the foundations were exposed.

Days Out: A winter walk around Whalley Abbey

The ruins were beautiful and it was clear that the grounds of the Abbey would be striking in all seasons. But it was bitterly cold and we were in need of a hot cup of tea and a warm lunch. Happily the Autisan Café (a café staffed by volunteers and run by the National Autistic Society) was open and doing a roaring takeaway trade. We can highly recommend the jacket potatoes, though we were told the soup and toasties were also excellent.

Days Out: A winter walk around Whalley Abbey

We spent a happy hour or so exploring the snowy grounds. It was fairly busy, but there was enough parking on the main road outside the gatehouse and some parking inside; though this may be more limited when the Abbey is open for events and such like.

Today the Abbey hosts retreats and the grounds are open year round. It’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area and is popular with artists and photographers. For more information on Whalley Abbey, visit their website.

Days Out: A winter walk around Whalley Abbey

50 ways to stay sane during lockdown

At New Year, Manchester was put into Tier 4, which is effectively lockdown. The tree lights were still twinkling from Christmas and the reality of a snow filled, largely housebound January hadn’t hit me yet. Three days into 2021, I’m starting to worry that a month or more of staying in, being sensible and sitting on my hands might drive me a bit loopy. How am I going to stay sane during lockdown, or Tier 4, or whatever we call it in the future?

50 ways to stay sane during lockdown

50 ways to stay sane during lockdown

  1. Mask up and get out for your daily dose of government mandated exercise.
  2. Keep in touch with friends, ok so we are Zoomed out, but message, text or call the people who give you joy.
  3. Plan your days properly, make sure you have something to do each day. Have a purpose and something to look forward to.
  4. It’s almost spring, so now is the time to spring clean. Polish those windows, scrub that grout. It’s not exciting, but it’s something to do.
  5. Likewise, declutter. Empty the wardrobe and have a good sort out.
  6. Laugh. Watch a comedy DVD. My go to is Greg Davies, he makes me howl.
  7. DIY is also a good thing to turn your attention to. Put those shelves up, fix that broken curtain rail, bleed your radiators.
  8. Download some mediation apps and practice some self care. Learning to find peace in your own company can be a godsend.
  9. Challenge yourself to do an act of kindness each day, or a couple a week. Spreading kindness helps.
  10. Have regular board game nights, take it in turns to choose and maybe make a trophy for the winner.
  11. Learn something new. Online learning isn’t just for kids, have a look at the Open University, FutureLearn or similar, there’s bound to be something to tickle your fancy.
  12. Keep positive. It’s hard to stay sane during lockdown, but if you challenge yourself to come up with three good things each day, then write them down, it helps to look back and remember it’s not all bad.
  13. Menu plan. It’s not an exciting thing, but if you plan your meals for the next month it makes you feel more organised and gives you tasty things to look forward to.
  14. Read a book, set yourself a goal and maybe read a book a week.
  15. Plan future fun things. Life is always better for me when I have things to look forward to. Plan some holidays and days out, you might not be able to book it yet, but planning is half the fun. Where will you stay, where will you eat, what would you like to see and do?
  16. Have regular family film nights, get popcorn and take it in turns to choose the film.
  17. Find an online exercise class and make yourself do it, daily, weekly, whatever.
  18. Your favourite restaurant is closed, so why not cook your favourite dish from their menu and dress up like you’re going out.
  19. Start a journal to explore your feelings about lockdown and other life things.
  20. Learn to bake bread/banana bread/whatever cake you like.
  21. Joint an online art class. A friend of mine has taught herself to paint (exceptionally well) during lockdown.
  22. Write. It’s said that everyone has a book in them, if you’re stuck at home during lockdown, now might be the time to bash out a bestseller or begin a journal.
  23. Buy some puzzle books and take up mental agility. An occupied brain is one which is less likely to flap about the misery of lockdown.
  24. Discover new podcasts.
  25. Go for a walk somewhere (local and) new. Walking around the same place gets very boring very quickly.
  26. Learn some sign language. Just a few words can help you communicate with others who cannot speak or hear.
  27. Plan a vegetable garden, it’s winter now, but now is the time to decide what you want to grow and eat in your garden. Pour over seed catalogues and get planning.
  28. Take your dog for a walk, if you don’t have one, borrow a dog from someone you know.
  29. Have a home spa day, pamper yourself with a face mask and a nice bath, and all the things you miss, like a manicure.
  30. Make sure you’re getting your five a day by trying new fruit. Ever had a lychee or dragonfruit? How’s the chance to give new things a try.
  31. Embrace mindfulness, do some adult colouring or do some crafts to keep your occupied.
  32. Listen to some music you’ve not heard for ages. Maybe pick a year and listen to some of the bestselling albums from then. Discover new music or just rediscover some classics you used to love.
  33. Take family portraits. You don’t need a fancy camera, your phone will do, but why not play about with different styles of photos of your family. If you don’t want to take photos, you could always try painting portraits of your nearest and dearest.
  34. Meditate or pray, find ways to feed your spiritual side.
  35. Do a jigsaw puzzle, make it a challenging one.
  36. Listen to an audiobook. You can often download them from your local library.
  37. Feed the birds. If you’ve got a garden or access to some outside space, fill your bird feeders up and enjoy watching the resulting wildlife.
  38. Binge a new TV series or two.
  39. Do some life admin. Now is the time to change energy supplier, find cheaper car insurance, write your will or whatever you’ve been meaning to do for a while.
  40. Set up a home disco night with optional karaoke if you have the technology.
  41. Write actual pen and paper letters to people and post them off.
  42. Get some sleep. Grab early nights and late mornings if you can, find a good sleep routine for you and do it every night.
  43. It’s been done to death, but a Zoom night with your friends can help. My craft club did an online craft night which worked well.
  44. Try laughter yoga. Yes it is bonkers, but it can really help you process built up emotions and you’ll have the best nights sleep after.
  45. Eat the frog. No not the actual frog, find the courage to do the thing you’ve been putting off forever. Now is the time.
  46. Submit your tax return. Yes, I know it’s not very exciting, but if you work for yourself then it is a practical and necessary use of your time. Sorry.
  47. Shop till you drop. Online and local is best, but there might be some January sale bargains to be had, and let’s face it, we all need new comfy clothes to lockdown in.
  48. Order a recipe box and try new recipes for meals you wouldn’t normally eat. Or try a new recipe each week. Expand your repertoire of tasty evening meals.
  49. Make time to really focus on spending time with the people in your household and talk with them and really listen. Share time and make it special for them too.
  50. Remember it’s ok to do nothing, if all you achieve at the end of this Covid nightmare is survival, then that’s a brilliant achievement. Well done. Don’t beat yourself up for not learning a new language or recreating the Taj Mahal in matchsticks.

What keeps you sane? I’d love to know your tips for how to stay sane during lockdown.

50 ways to stay sane during lockdown

FREE Printable: Happy New Year Colouring Sheet

That’s it. Christmas is pretty much done and dusted and the next big date in our diary is New Year. After all the fun and frivolity of Christmas, who really has the time and energy to get out a load of glitter and glue and get crafting with the kids? Not me, that’s for sure. I’ve created a cute little printable wishing you all a Happy New Year which I’ve made available for you to download and use for free.

New Year is usually a time for parties. We often get together with friends and their families over the New Year period, the kids love to sit and colour for hours. Here’s a sweet Happy New Year printable which they can colour in to welcome in the New Year!

FREE Printable: Happy New Year Colouring Sheet

Download this FREE printable here

It’s pretty cute isn’t it? It’s A4 sized, so just print off however many you need. Give the kids a million coloured pencils or felt tips and let them go wild with them. Adults who enjoy colouring in might also like to get in on the action too.

Our New Year celebrations are usually fairly low key. We might have an early dinner out with friends somewhere and then off home for snacks and family snuggles in front of the TV before the boy goes off to bed. Sometimes I might do some work while it’s quiet.

The fireworks at midnight usually wake my son up, so he will usually get up and watch them out of the window with us for ten minutes before he goes back to bed.

New Years Day usually involves us all going on a long walk somewhere with the dog and a roast dinner at home. We have a small extended family and our friends are usually busy, so we tend to do our own thing. What are your family traditions at New Year?

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to try –

FREE Printable: Happy New Year Colouring Sheet

Easy Christmas Recipe: Mincemeat Filo Rolls

I do love mince pies, but sadly the pastry doesn’t love me. This Christmas I thought I’d try making a batch of alternative mince pies, but with filo pastry and in the style of a spring roll. These Mincemeat Filo Rolls were really, really lovely. The great news is they didn’t take very much time at all and I managed to roll up the lot whilst sat at my kitchen table watching The Motherland Christmas Special, which was only 30 minutes long.

Easy Christmas Recipe: Mincemeat Filo Rolls

This recipe makes 24 mincemeat filo rolls and they would keep well for a few days in an airtight container. You can eat them cold or warm them in the oven if you prefer. They’re lovely dipped in brandy cream or just as they are.

Mincemeat Filo Rolls

Ingredients:
1 packet of filo pastry
2 jars of mincemeat
100g melted butter
Icing sugar (optional)

Easy Christmas Recipe: Mincemeat Filo Rolls

How to make your Mincemeat Filo Rolls:
You’ll need to work pretty quickly as once the filo pastry is out of the packet it starts to dry up.

Line two large baking trays with baking parchment and pre-heat your oven to 180°.

Unroll your filo pastry and cut into quarters. Open your jars of mincemeat and get your melted butter ready. Below is a pictorial guide on how I put them together. I took one quarter of a sheet, brushed it with melted butter and put another sheet of filo pastry on top. I then put a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat on the pastry and brushed the edges with melted butter.

Easy Christmas Recipe: Mincemeat Filo Rolls

As you can see, I folded the filo in on the long sides and dabbed some more melted butter along the edges to seal everything in, then rolled them up tight. I put each one with the edge side down on a baking sheet, and once I’d finished I brushed them with more melted butter and put them in the oven.

Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes. Check on them at about 20 minutes and remove from the oven when they’re golden and crisp looking. Leave them to cool because hot mincemeat is essentially fruity lava, once they’re cooler you can dust with icing sugar if you like and serve them with boozy cream or brandy butter.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like to try –

Easy Christmas Recipe: Mincemeat Filo Rolls

9 ideas for things to do on Boxing Day

When I was a child, Boxing Day was always for turkey sandwiches and watching The Great Escape on the TV. Now I have a family of my own, we have our own traditions and ways we like to spend the day. I always think that after the jollity and excitement of Christmas, the days after can seem a bit flat. But Boxing Day is ripe for making your own fun, even if turkey sandwiches and old films are not your thing.

9 ideas for things to do on Boxing Day

Boxing Day is traditionally celebrated on 26 December, the day after Christmas Day. It is also sometimes known as St Stephen’s Day. The name Boxing Day comes from a time when the rich used to box up gifts to give to the poor. It was also traditionally a day off for servants who could go home on Boxing Day to see their families and give boxes of gifts to them.

9 ideas for things to do on Boxing Day

Blow away the cobwebs

A family walk is often a good way to spend Boxing Day. Whether it’s a stroll around your local park, a visit to a National Trust property, a trip to the beach or a family hike; it’s good to get out and get some fresh air and exercise.

Watch a movie

Whether it’s an old classic or a modern favourite, snuggling up on the sofa and sharing a bag of popcorn is a great way to spend a family afternoon. It’s low cost too, the Boxing Day TV schedules are packed with good films to choose from.

Lego unboxing day

This is a new tradition which is being promoted by Lego, and I think it’s a great one. Essentially, if you got Lego for Christmas, Boxing Day is the day to get it open and get building as a family. This is something we like to do anyway, so it’s nice to see it formally adopted by everyone else!

Watch a show or go and see a pantomime

Christmas is a great time to go to the theatre with the family. There are always great shows on at this time of year and of course, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a trip to see a pantomime. Of course, 2020 is a bit different and most theatres are closed, but if you look around you can find drive-in shows and lots of theatres are live streaming pantomimes this year.

Sales Shopping

I’m not much of a shopper, but I do know of people who love the scrummage of a Boxing Day sale. If this is your idea of a good time, then good luck to you. I’m not sure what kind of high street sales will be on this year, but I’m sure there will be some bargains to be had online. And don’t forget your local shops, who need your support now more than ever. Happy shopping!

Christmas lights

Trips out to see festive lights, such as at Dunham Massey or The Lanterns at Chester Zoo have been growing in popularity over the last few years and in all the rush before Christmas, it can be hard to fit a trip in. Some of these lovely attractions run right up until New Year; so booking tickets for Boxing Day would be a lovely way to spend a few hours in the evening. Flasks of mulled wine and pockets full of mince pies are optional!

Watch some sports

Boxing Day is a big day for sports, with Premiership matches played, Test cricket and rugby games to choose from. They’ll be no watching it down the pub this year; but if you’re lucky you might be able to watch your favourite sports from the comfort of your own home.

101 ways with leftover turkey

Ok, so before Christmas you bought a turkey which would feed 14 and there were 6 people around the dining table. Now you have more turkey than you know what to do with. Today is the day to tackle the leftover turkey. Turkey sandwiches, turkey curry, turkey salad, you name it, put turkey in it. If in doubt, cut it into slices; then cover with gravy and freeze in portions for easy midweek roast dinners for the next few months.

Take the tree down!

This is another tradition I cannot get on board with, but other people can’t wait to take their tree down and de-festive the house. As soon as Christmas Day is over, all the decorations come down for another year and life returns to normal. Personally I leave everything up until twelfth night; but I can see the attraction of wanting to strip everything back to how it should be; especially when you’ve got a large and increasingly dead tree taking up too much space in your living room.

What will you be doing on Boxing Day? What are your traditions? I think we will be having a family walk and then we will watch a film and do some damage to a selection box or two. Merry Christmas!

9 ideas for things to do on Boxing Day

FREE Printable: Chinese New Year – Year of the Ox

This year Chinese New Year falls on Friday 12th February. Chinese New Year is a glorious, colourful celebration of the New Year, just when I feel the year is at its darkest and gloomiest. This year is the Chinese Year of the Ox.

In Manchester the Chinese New Year celebrations are legendary. There is usually a big parade, Chinese crafts exhibition, a big celebration in Albert Square and a fantastic street food market.

2021 is the Chinese Year of the Ox. The Rat is the first of the 12-year cycle of animals which make up the Chinese zodiac in the Chinese calendar. People born in the Years of the Ox including 1925; 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997 and 2009 will celebrate their Zodiac Year.

FREE Printable: Chinese New Year – Year of the Ox

To celebrate Chinese New Year and the Year of the Ox, I’ve created this colouring sheet for children, or indeed adults. It’s a simple sheet which you can print out on A4 paper. All you need are some felt tips or colouring pencils and it should keep the kids entertained for a little while. If you want to extend the fun, you could also try making a Chinese drum, or some traditional red envelopes for Chinese New Year.

Download your free printable colouring sheet here.

It’s pretty cute isn’t it? It’s A4 sized, so just print off however many you need. Give the kids a million coloured pencils or felt tips and let them go wild with them. Adults who enjoy colouring in might also like to get in on the action too.

I’d love to know what you’ll be doing to celebrate Chinese New Year. Let me know in the comment box below. Gong hei fat choy!

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FREE Printable: Chinese New Year – Year of the Ox