Holiday Reading List – Mandy Baggot

My guest today is UK author Mandy Baggot. Let’s hear what Mandy suggests for our Christmas reading list.
Here she is:
Looking for great gifts for Christmas? These are three of the best books I’ve read recently:-
Lost Girls – Angela Marsons
A brilliant crime thriller and #3 in the DI Kim Stone series. This is a gripping page turner with protagonist detective, Kim Stone in a race against time to find two kidnapped girls. I love this series, it was another five-star read for me and I can’t wait for more.
A Cottage in the Country – Linn B Halton
This really was a festive treat and will make you want to cosy up with a hot chocolate and be glad you’re not living Maddie Brooks’ life! Stuck in raging floods at Christmas time in a cold, partially renovated house with a grumpy (yet attractive!) man-who-can, I loved this feel-good story of reinvention.
Life or Something Like It – Annie Lyons 
I adore Annie’s books and this was another triumph. Cat is an opportunity-hungry career woman until she loses her job and has to look after her brother’s children. Will anyone survive? And what will Cat do without Twitter for a week? A perfect, fun, feel-good read with a dash of romance.
Check out Mandy Baggot’s latest release, One Wish in Manhattan or visit her website!
One Wish in Manhattan

What’s Ahead?


Are you like me when it comes to January? Do you look forward to productive hours doing what you really want, but can’t find the time for right now?

I don’t go in for New Year’s Resolutions much. For me, making resolutions is a recipe for failure. For January, I would rather plan and organize and chisel away at my favourite jobs, one of which is writing.

With Christmas looming and all the festivities taking over my life, I’ve had to put some things on hold. I’m desperate to get back to my writing, but social events take precedence. Christmas is wonderful, but when January comes, and all the hullabaloo is over, I’ll sit down at my computer knowing I have hours of uninterrupted time ahead of me, and I’ll smile. The words will come racing out onto the monitor. They’ll jump into chapter formation, and smile back at me when I reread. Yes! This is what I’ve been missing.Anneli-footer-with-border-400x210

December: Family time, friends visiting, Christmas celebrations.

January: Quiet time, thinking time, writing time. TIME is the key! Having time to write is precious. I can’t wait to get busy at the keyboard again.

Fairy Tale in New York

5 - FTNY_Teaser_2

A Fairy Tale in New York… involving snow and a stranded rock star. How extraordinary. The rock industry is hardly the stuff of fairy tales, or is it?

Well. As far as I’m concerned, Christmas, rock, music, and fairy tales go together perfectly.

Fairy Tale in New York is my version of the perfect Christmas story, and I really went all out on the happiness factor. Everything gets kicked off with an epic snowstorm—and I mean epic, of the ground-all-planes-and-halt-all-transport variety. Obviously there’s romance, because I’m a hopeless romantic. And true to form, there’s a rock musician because you know how much I love my golden-voiced bad boys. Honestly, trust me, it’s a winner!

But there’s more to this story than just good cheer and fluff (yes, fluff, it is a Christmas book after all!). I kind of sneaked in a message of personal growth and caring for others. Because that’s what Christmas is all about, first and foremost. Presents are conspicuous in this book only by their near-complete absence, but the characters still have a fabulous time.

And why New York? I’m asked. Why not London, or anywhere else in England?

I wanted to take my characters somewhere different. New York City was on Jude and Carrie’s wish list I have to confess that this is in part because ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogues is one of Carrie’s favourite Christmas rock tunes. So why not make their dream come true? After all, granting and fulfilling wishes for one’s characters is one of the perks of being an author-slash-creator. So between us, Carrie, Jude, and I had a lot of fun exploring New York in the snow and discovering some of the differences between an American Christmas and a British one.

In fact, the connection with The Pogues song inspired a whole raft of Christmas-rock-tune related chapter titles, so I invite you to go and work out my playlist. Plus you can have fun playing spot-the-movie-reference bingo—I told you this is an all-out, all-round uninhibited Christmas fun story!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Christmas time. I’d love to hear what you think about my Fairy Tale!

4 - FTNY_Cover

Fairy Tale in New York

New York. A restaurant near Park Avenue. It’s early evening, and dusk is falling. So is the snow. Jude and Carrie are only killing time while they wait for their flight to London. They don’t know yet that their life will never be the same.

When rock star Jude gets stranded in New York with his family on Christmas Eve, he has no idea that he is setting in motion a chain of events that will turn their Christmas into the most magical one yet…

No good deed goes unpunished, or so it seems to Jude and Carrie on the morning of the twenty-fourth of December. The previous day, they gave up their London-bound flights to someone in crisis. And now, a spectacular whiteout is grounding all planes, and Jude, Carrie, and baby Maya are stuck far from home.

Tired, hungry, and just a little panicked, Jude loads his family into a cab and returns to their hotel. But there’s no room at the inn, and not even a platinum credit card will make a difference. Snow is falling heavily, and the family is facing a very bleak night indeed.

How do you celebrate Christmas with no place to stay, no food, and no presents? Join Jude, Carrie, Maya and a cast of colourful characters in this fairy tale story of Yuletide in New York.

Fairy Tale in New York is now available in Kindle and paperback editions from all Amazon domains, including: |



About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!

Ultimate rock chick author Nicky Wells writes romance with rock stars—because there’s no better romantic hero than a golden-voiced bad boy with a secret soft heart and a magical stage presence!

Nicky’s books offer glitzy, glamorous romance with rock stars—imagine Bridget Jones ROCKS Notting Hill! If you’ve ever had a crush on any kind of celebrity, you’ll connect with Nicky’s heroes and their leading ladies.

Born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993 and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. Nicky loves listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When she’s not writing, she’s a wife, mother, occasional knitter, and regular contributor at Siren 107.3 FM with her own monthly show. Rock on!

Nicky’s books: Sophie’s Turn | Sophie’s Run | Sophie’s Encore | Spirits of Christmas

| Fallen for Rock | Fairy Tale in New York


Join Nicky: Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Romantic Novelists’ Association | Sapphire Star Publishing | Amazon | Goodreads | Pinterest | Google+

Did you know? There’s a single out now by Nicky’s fictional rock band Tuscq come to life! “Love Me Better” is available for download from Amazon, iTunes and many other places.


Nicky Wells Banner

Christmas Interview – Elisabeth Bertha

We’re off to Austria for this interview. Bundle up. Wrap that scarf around your neck. The snow is everywhere!


My friend Elisabeth lives in Austria. She is a woman of extraordinary talents. I can’t even explain all she does at her amazing job. She is a geologist who does consultant work, assessing environmental impact of construction on building sites, and helping advise construction companies how to deal with groundwater levels. She also helps protect the environment from the impact of industry. It’s a fine line to tread and she often finds herself in a dilemma as she is bound to protect nature without stifling business and the economy.

Here is Elisabeth in her portfolio photo from work.

Elisabeth Bertha

Elisabeth lives in Linz, between Salzburg and Vienna. She loves to hike, ski, and travel. She likes to swim in refreshingly cool water (not the tropical waters for our brave Elisabeth).

Being a pianist, she loves classical music, theater, and movies. In her free time, she likes to travel, and for this, it is very helpful that she has learned to speak several languages. She can hold conversations in English, German, French, Italian, and Hungarian.

One more thing I really admire Elisabeth for is that in every spare moment, she has a book in her hand. This is something that makes every author happy.

And she loves animals, as you can tell from the cat among the presents.


Christmas in Austria is bound to be a white one. The family takes advantage of the many ski and snowboarding opportunities in this lovely country.

Ski Austria

How deep is that snow!?

Austria [1]

Christmas in Austria is loaded in tradition. Here is Elisabeth to tell us about it.

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Of course, the same procedure as every year.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No, never, my family has always been too big.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

No, my children are very traditional thinking- there is always a Hungarian fish soup for lunch (with lots of elderly friends/my generation and older-grown-up-children) and at Christmas Eve,  Bratwürstel (calf) and sauerkraut at grandmother´s place, most of all kids and kiddies and partners and dogs together, everybody talking and laughing loudly…

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I love trying to find special presents for everybody, to fulfill bigger wishes for my children and nice small gifts for all the others, friends and family.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

After midnight mass we put sexy nipple-toys on a renaissance figure next to the church (oh my god!)

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

There are stockings on St Nicholas`Day, filled with sweets and nuts. When the children still were small, somebody (most time someone from the parish) dressed up as St. Nicholas  (invited by the parents) went from house to house, bringing  a bag  full of chocolates and so on (prepared for the children by the parents) to each of them, telling the legends of St Nicholas, bishop of Myra/Turkey. We celebrate Christmas Eve with the ringing of an old brass horse-sleigh-bell, then we all may enter the living room with  the wax-candle-lit  tree and all the presents under it. Then everyone must sing  Silent Night together, even if I play the piano much too high!!

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

I don’t remember. The best gift for me is always to see that my presents please and bring joy to everybody.

8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

A voucher for dishwasher cleaning up/10 times from one of my clever daughters- I never got it done without argument…

9. What do you do with gifts you don’t like?

I collect them in a secret place and sometimes I may find a new owner or someone who likes it much better…(chacun a son gout!)

10. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

I love homemade Christmas cookies!!!

11. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

Filled gingerbread (sugared orange and lemon peels, cranberry jam, nuts), game pastry.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

Nothing, never.

13. What would you keep the same if you could?

The silence and nervous whispering of my grown-up daughters, sitting on the stairs and waiting for the ringing bell in the living room (and  silent humming of Gregorian Christmas carols from  the disc).

14. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

As I mentioned: Gregorian Carols, then Austria`s most famous Christmas song composition : Silent Night  and  during the opening of the parcels Hungarian Christmas songs as Pasztorok, Mennyböl az angyal (even if the children are not able to sing the text, for them these Carols belong inseparably to Christmas Eve). Another absolutely essential music piece is Petersburger Schlittenfahrt for 4 hands, played by my sister and my 85-year-old mother in memory of our grandmother (1896-1994), who especially loved this piano music at Christmas!

15. What do you like best about Christmas?

I love decorating and  at least the building up of our  more than 140-year-old Bethlehem Cradle; tiny wooden figures made by some ancestors, some of them quite primitively cut (it might have been a child trying to carve figures like sheep or a fox his first time) or  much better cut Holy Mary and shepherds. I love creating the green environment around the cradle with dry wood, moss and other plants…. It is quite contemplative!

And I love meeting my brothers and my sister and their children. We really always try to behave quite well and peaceful, and I must say, it is funny, nice and peaceful. But I have to admit, that our Christmas meeting does not last the whole evening, after 3 happy hours we all drive/go home to our own places to celebrate Christmas/singing Carols/opening presents in “lower” society…

 16. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

  •  I do not understand people who hate Christmas or who try to escape (into holidays somewhere else, like warm southern islands!) I really love the darkness of these days, also the bad weather and first snow!
  • The only bad thing about this time is, that at the end of the year the stress at work grows immensely. Each project has to be finished before Christmas. It is never a calm time! If I could, this would be the thing I `d like to change around Christmas (but someday I will be retired…. Then let´s talk about again!)
  •  Christmas at home
  • Bethlehem Cradle, figures built between 1860 and 1880; some of them with very special local meaning like the brown monk. He is called Katzenwoferl, (Wolfgang), a  hermit who lived here in Ebensee  250 years ago in a hut in the wood, caring for many cats …
  • Or figure “Vater-lass-mich-aa-mitgehn”, a boy following his father, or “Miazl (Maria, Mizzi)- mit-den- Eiern”  (she carries a bowl of eggs an her  head), “Nazl (Ignaz)- mit der Leinwand” (carries linen for the child)…
  • our (un- complete ) (un-)holy family….

Here is Elisabeth with her husband, Sandor, in Vienna.



Merry Christmas, Elisabeth!

Christmas Interview – Janice Horton

I’d like to introduce Janice Horton, a writer who lives in Scotland. Janice writes contemporary fiction with humour and heart. Please have a look at her book cover images and links at the bottom of the page.

Welcome, Janice!


1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

We always celebrate at home in Scotland. This year will be special as our three sons will be home. Now they are grown men and two of them plan to work abroad next year, it’s possible we may not be together for future Christmases, and so I plan to make the most of this one!

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

I’m lucky to come from a large family. I’m the eldest of five children, so being alone at Christmas has never been an option. But I’m sure if I had to be on my own I’d make the most of it by watching my favourite movies and enjoying a few festive treats.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

Nope, it’s tradition all the way in our house. My boys would riot if we deviated even slightly from the way it’s always been done!

Janice xmas dinner

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I love to give gifts but I’m not lavish about it. I like to give well thought out personal presents.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Sledging on the snowy hill at the back of the cottage.

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

Absolutely. Everyone gets a stocking with fruit, nuts and Christmas themed chocolate treats in it.

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

Our three boys being home for Christmas is the best gift ever.

8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

I once received aftershave. To say I was surprised was an understatement. All came clear later however when my dear husband unwrapped perfume!

9. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

A handmade pottery dish from my aunt and uncle in Canada.

10. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

I’ve given Christmas cakes. My mum says they are the best she has ever tasted.

11. What would you change about Christmas?

I think if there was ever a year that none of our boys could come home for Christmas, I might suggest to my husband that we go and spend Christmas somewhere tropical!

12. What would you keep the same if you could?

Listening to the old Christmas classics on Christmas Eve.

13. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

I particularly love ‘White Christmas’ by Bing Crosby.

14. What do you like best about Christmas?

Family first. Everything else is a bonus.

15. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

When I was younger, Christmas was really all about the gifts – what I was getting and what I was giving. Now I really wouldn’t mind if everyone stopped the present giving ritual and concentrated on the day itself – sharing a meal and celebrating.

My Author Blog

Follow me on Twitter: @JaniceHorton

Friend me on Facebook Page

Link to my Amazon Author Page

Check out my page on Goodreads

My LLm Bookshelf

Associate Editor at: Loveahappyending Lifestyle Mag

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Christmas Interview – Gina Page

Visiting Anneli’s Place today is a talented artist. Gina Page uses a variety of unusual materials to create unique works of art. Etchings and papermaking combine to make one-of-a-kind books that display Gina’s artistic and poetic talent.

Here are some samples of her handmade books.

In Mexico (cropped) [1]

Meditation on a Canterbury Bell Stem-inside [1]

Pages Farm Galiano Island [1]

Gina has agreed to share her thoughts on Christmas by answering my Christmas interview questions.

ginapage_1350953001_58Welcome, Gina.

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?  Yes

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?  No

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?  No

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?  I enjoy it!

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?  Just being together with family and friends.

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day? Christmas Day

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?  My mum made me a beautiful green silk dress once.

8. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.  I made my mom a lovely sewing basket.

9. What would you change about Christmas?  More classical Christmas music on the radio.

10. What would you keep the same if you could?  I like the Christmas tree and the traditional turkey dinner.

11. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?  Once in Royal David’s City…I get goosebumps if it’s sung by the King’s College Choir.

12. What do you like best about Christmas?  Renewing ties with family and friends.


One year Gina had a good idea for Christmas. Here she is in a place I’d love to be right now.

Gina and agave plant

Have you ever spent Christmas in a holiday setting? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

You can find out more about Gina Page and her art at this link:

Christmas Interview – Sheryl Browne

My guest today is the author of heart-warming love stories, written with humour. Sheryl Browne lives in the UK and likes to spend time on boats. She has a soft heart for her pets and in my book, that makes her a good person. Welcome, Sheryl.
Sheryl Photo

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

I think if we didn’t we would never pause to draw breath. Christmas is the one time we cross everything off the agenda with a view to relaxing. It’s time for stopping and reflecting, I think. It can be a time of sadness, remembering those you’ve lost. That in itself, though, is a reason to celebrate, cherishing the memories, enjoying what you have; realising that many people the world over don’t have so many things we take for granted. It’s definitely a time for giving thanks, in my mind, and counting one’s blessings.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

Yes, once. My son was very young at that time and had gone to his dad’s that year. I lived a long way away from family, so spent the day on my own. I was fine with it, plenty of indulging and reading to do, but I did experience an overwhelming sense of sadness as the evening drew in. Some people are alone and lonely all the time, something else we should remember when we feel like garrotting the family, rather than stuffing the turkey on the big, frenetic day.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

Does a sea-food raclette party count as non-traditional, followed by a chocolate fondue? I have no idea how the ceiling ended up covered in chocolate sauce, but I think we must have had fun!

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

Oh, dear…To be honest, I think Christmas should be a time of giving, but I would much rather people set a limit on the amount spent. It’s difficult when you have children not to want to provide them with the latest in gadgetry and cool footwear, especially when you think they’ll be under peer pressure at school, but so often people end up in serious debt. We tend to give fun but thoughtful gifts that don’t cost the earth.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Charades!! Boring?? Not a bit of it. My partner stuffed a pillow up the back of his jumper and walked around hunched swinging an arm in front of him until we were hysterical with laughter one year (cue frenzied barking from the dogs). ‘Elephant!’ we kept screaming. ‘Mammoth!’ Noooo, he was a … camel???

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

Christmas morning. It’s a tradition carried on from my mum. We weren’t a well-off family (six siblings in all meant there were a lot of mouths to feed and stockings to fill). She always filled our stockings, though, in the wee hours. The little surprise presents were always precious, but the orange, nuts, and chunky chocolate tucked in the toe were the best.

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

A bike! I was all grown up at the time, but I so wanted a traditional ladies’ bike. My partner bought one for me. It was the last Christmas I had with my dad (we knew he was poorly). My partner hid the bike at a neighbour’s and presented me with it after dinner, a proper bicycle with a bell and a basket and little roses on its frame. My dad’s face was one of pure joy. I think that was because he thought I was with someone who would look out for me.

8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

A peg bag. Say no more.

9. What do you do with gifts you don’t like?

I take them to the charity shop. There are so many now, it’s not really a chore to do.

10. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

A ceramic mouse made by my son. It’s so cute, I just adore it. Where I go, house-move wise, my mouse goes with me.

11. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

OK, this is quite sad. My father gave me a slip of paper before he died. On it was the quote, ’Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day’. He wasn’t particularly religious or generally demonstrative, so… You know. Anyway, I penned that up in italic script and framed it for my brothers and sisters. They did appreciate it.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

Christmas is way too commercialised for my liking. I love to see the twinkly lights, particularly coming home on a dark night, but I do so wish people wouldn’t put them up in November. Seeing the shops full of Christmas stock as early as September and October… Well, it just pressurises people to spend more, I think. But then, I suppose that’s the idea.

13. What would you keep the same if you could?

I’d like to keep everything the same (except maybe the commercialisation).

14. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

A Winter’s Tale by David Essex. I think the fact that I drooled over him as a teen had something to do with it.

15. What do you like best about Christmas?

Walking my dogs and watching animated films in front of the fire after dinner.

He's coming down the chimney. Quick, look obedient. (2)

He’s coming down the chimney. Quick! Look obedient!

16. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

I wish everyone could be as privileged as we sometimes forget we are.


And here are some of Sheryl’s novels. You’ll enjoy them all.



Sheryl’s Website 

Safkhet Publishing

Author Facebook     

Romantic Novelists’ Association

Sheryl is a Loveahappyending Lifestyle Author and Feature Editor.

Twitter: @sherylbrowne

Christmas Interview – Dawn Hill

My guest today is the lovely Dawn Hill of Bellingham, Washington.IMG_3037a
1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Have never missed a celebration of Christmas with friends and family

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No..but this will be a totally different year as my sweet husband has gone to will be there for me.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner?What did you have?

Corned beef and cabbage..for fun, years ago.
4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I like to buy a special gift for each person I hold dear..I usually put much thought into this and also buy something I personally find attractive.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

One year we really took a left turn. My husband and I booked a week at a Dude Ranch in Arizona. We rode on horseback, ate around a campfire out on the range and had a delightful Christmas feast in the lodge which was festive with 20-ft. trees.

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

But..of course!

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

Granddaughter ..Madeleine..was born on Christmas Day!

8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

Never did get that “lump of coal”!

9. What do you do with gifts you don’t like?

Goodwill is always happy with this sort of thing:)

10. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

I love to receive jams and breads..every year some friend does the honors!

11. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

Years ago, when I really did bake a lot, I would make about 10 English lemon breads..from scratch..for friends and family.
It would be an all day event but one I loved.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

Maybe a bit less commercial and also more beautiful Christmas programs on telly..remembering the Andy Williams show and that sort.

13. What would you keep the same if you could?

The magic of Christmas that a sweet child has.

14. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Oh Holy Night

15. What do you like best about Christmas?

Family and gathering..great food and conversation..remembering what Christmas means to us..birthday of Baby Jesus

16. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

Looking forward to spending this Christmas with my dear family and toasting the one I miss.


Can you guess where corned beef and cabbage is a traditional dish (not necessarily for Christmas dinner, but regional cuisine)?

Have you ever been to a Dude Ranch? Would you like to share your thoughts about it? Please leave a comment.

Christmas Interview – Kit Domino

“Winter Wonderland” by Kit DominoWinter Wonderland

Besides being an author and editor, Kit Domino is a superb painter. I would love to have her painting, “Winter Wonderland,” hanging on my wall at home.

Kit lives in the UK and is visiting my blog today to tell us her thoughts about Christmas. Welcome, Kit.

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

We are not religious so Dave and I celebrate it in our own special way – not for us the stress and hassle a lot of people seem to create for themselves. No paper hats, no crackers, and we don’t send cards. For us, it’s a time for relaxation, a few treats that we wouldn’t indulge in during the rest of the year, and a time for spending with loved ones. Everything is very low key and laid back.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

Never, and I’d hate it if I heard that any of my family were alone on Christmas Day.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

We don’t do traditional. Normally we have roast beef but we have on occasion enjoyed sausage, egg and chips – not that we couldn’t afford anything else but because my husband doesn’t like turkey and all the trimmings, apart from the sausages!

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

Christmas is a magical time for children and every child should have something to unwrap from Father Christmas. In our family we only give gifts to the children; watching their faces as they rip off the paper is the best part of Christmas. We treat the adults on their birthdays instead.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Many years ago when our daughter was aged about nine years, it snowed. We spent Christmas morning building a snowman in the garden, having a snowball fight and making snow angels. It was wonderful, and then coming in from the cold to a glass of warm mulled wine made the day. Simple pleasures that cost nothing and a memory we will never forget. Why can’t all Christmas mornings be like that? More recently, I enjoy watching Dave decorate the tree – for years he wouldn’t get involved, now it’s “his job,” as he tells me. Hmmm… he’s definitely mellowing as he gets older.

Mr and Mrs Snowman

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

As children, we never had stockings but a Christmas Day tray each – a special fluted shallow dish made of paper maché that was filled with sweets, nuts, fruit and little toys and trinkets. As we grew older, the toys and trinkets turned into jewellery, perfumes, etc. I continue this tradition by doing the same for any guest who is with us over Christmas.

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

I have two older sisters who are twins, and most of my clothes as a child were hand-me-downs (two of everything!) which I hated, but I remember one particular Christmas I came down to find a brand new dress. It was brown and white with a pleated skirted and cap sleeves. I loved it – because it was new and bought especially for me.

8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

Believe it or not, a giant roll of clingfilm – plastic food wrap – from a niece; my sister-in-law received the same. Neither of us could believe it. It was that which decided Dave and I to stop the gift giving. Decried at the time, but now all the family followed our lead and has stopped giving gifts except to the young ones. They all tell us how much more enjoyable Christmas is now without the worry of what to buy everyone.

9. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

A dear lady in Germany who purchased the very first bluebell painting I’d ever created for several years afterwards always sent me a home-made Stollen. Being of German stock myself and enjoying many of the German traditions, especially the food, this was wonderful. This year I decided I would go back to making my own as I used to do years ago, long before you could buy Stollen here in the UK.

10. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

I’m not very good at making craft things but I have given a few paintings as gifts – does that count?

11. What would you change about Christmas?

The length of time we are bombarded with TV adverts and stuff in the shops from the moment the kids go back to school after the summer holidays – especially mince pies! Christmas is one day (okay, two in the UK), not three months. Okay, that makes me sound a grouch, which I’m not. Can I have a magic cracker that turns my Dave into someone who loves all the traditional foods and carols and such?

12. What would you keep the same if you could?

Always having my mother here for the holiday. We lost my father fifteen years ago, since then Mum invariably comes to stay, always asking if she can come. She loves it with us because we don’t fuss and it’s so quiet and relaxed. It wouldn’t be the same without her.

13. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

I have three: Silent Night, preferably sung in German and another German carol Suesser die Glocken nie klingen ( – sorry, that’s the German blood in me again), and White Christmas by Bing Crosby – all guaranteed to bring a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye. Actually, there’s more than three, now I think about it… I adore Fairytale in New York by the Pogues and Kirsty McColl, and Don’t Stop the Cavalry by Jona Lewie – two songs that always makes me feel that Christmas has arrived.

14. What do you like best about Christmas?

Being with my family.

15. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

Whilst many of the traditions and food are well rooted in the past and the true Christian meaning has been lost by many, I do think we should endeavour to keep it alive. We value it and it is something enjoyable to look forward to during the middle of winter.


Kit Domino, artist and author of Every Step of the Way


Book link:



Christmas Interview – Nicky Wells

As we get closer to the big day, my guest for the Christmas interview is the rock chick author, Nicky Wells.


Nicky has a very Christmas oriented novella just out on the shelves for this Christmas, entitled Spirits of Christmas.

SpiritsChristmas_NW_Cover_500 Kindle | Paperback Kindle | Paperback

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I asked Nicky to share her thoughts about Christmas with us:

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Absolutely. I adore Christmas, it’s my favourite festival of the year. The lights, the coziness, the singing, the being together… love it. Oh and, did I mention chocolate? LOL!

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

I have, as a matter of fact. I was in my late twenties, single, free and unattached in London, and for reasons too complicated to explain here, I didn’t make it home that year. So I bought a bumper CD of rock Christmas tunes, decorated my flat with pine twigs and fairy lights galore, splashed out on fancy food, and hunkered down for a few days with good books and romantic movies. It was very cold, too, so I got to go out and have lovely walks across a frosty park. I was alone, but I didn’t feel lonely. It was different, but it was a good experience.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

*whispers* I hate turkey! *speaks in a normal voice* Well, normally, I have a Christmas dinner of roast chicken or roast beef. But one time, I simply couldn’t be bothered with all of that. The kids were too little to appreciate the effort and I was too tired to make it, so we had a pizza feast instead. (Me and my husband. The kids weren’t eating that kind of ‘junk’ food then).

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

Giving is better than receiving, for sure. I get really flustered and embarrassed when I get given gifts, but I love watching others open my presents. On the whole, I think that Christmas risks being one massive merry-go-round of exchanging presents, and I worry that the true spirit of the festival is being overlooked. But yes, I love presents.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Singing carols under the Christmas tree. That probably doesn’t sound rock’n’roll but I’m a traditionalist, LOL.

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

BOTH! Although that’s a new way of doing things. Traditionally, I’d have had a stocking (well, a filled wellie-boot) on St Nicholas Day, and I’ve introduced that tradition for my children. However, to honour the British way of doing things, they also have stockings at Christmas. Best of both worlds, right?

9. What do you do with gifts you don’t like?

I feel guilty for even thinking that I don’t like them, then I put on my best smile, thank the giver and put the present to the best use possible. That may include passing it on, eventually, to somebody who appreciates it more than me.

10. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

Christmas tree ornaments from the boys! I’d include a photo but the decorations are still firmly stacked in the loft and won’t be coming out until after my birthday. Sorry!

11. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

Ooh all the time. I used to make figurines and ornaments out of salt dough, paint them and varnish them and wrap them as best I could. My Mum still has all of those! I also did a fine line in candle-holders and coasters, although I fear those have bitten the dust by now.

It is also a Wells family tradition to give home-made chocolates and fudge, so every year, my OH and the kids get making sweet treats for the whole family.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

I would quite possibly cut through all that commercialism. Oh, now you got me thinking. Much as I LOVE Christmas, I’d pass a law that says no Christmas goodies, tunes or advertising in the shops before mid-November. And certainly not in July!!!

14. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

I’ve got five. Of course! Here goes:

1. I Believe in Father Christmas ~ Greg Lake

Love the guitar and the jingles and the lyrics of this one!

2. Merry Christmas Everybody ~ Slade

Well. Try and stop me from shouting ‘It’s Chrisssssstmaaaaas’ at the opportune moment!


3. Wish It Could be Christmas Every day ~ Wizzard

Enough said. Although, as my six-year-old pointed out, if it were Christmas every day, it would get a bit boring. Bless!


4. Gaudete ~ Steeleye Span

Love me some acapella. I sing along and pretend ‘I can.’ LOL!


5. Do They Know It’s Christmas ~ Band Aid

Because I love that all those stars came together to make a charity song, and that it still gets air play after all these years. Plus watching the video is like entering a time-warp, in a good way.