There's no time like Christmas to act as a reminder that I'm single, child-less and am now the oldest i've ever been, now a mystifying 40 years old. It seems that, once again, I'm having Christmas just with my parents.
Stuck in London for the holidays? Fear not! The capital offers plenty of options to get you in the mood for Christmas. Forget over-the-top Christmas markets, tacky Santa's grottoes or lukewarm mulled wine: Londoners are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out before or during the Christmas break.
Christmas is meant to be the season of goodwill, but for many of us being cooped up with a houseful of assorted relatives, friends, in-laws as well as our closest loved ones it can be a recipe for disaster. The reality is often a less than harmonious situation.
Like cheese, with age comes a mature palate. So how best to navigate away from a fromage faux pas on your Christmas party cheese platter? Well first, you need to know what your cheese choice says about you.
Like China's Santa Claus which plays a saxophone which left me unable to explain to her last year, I am equally unable to fully explain the link between a god, his son born to a virgin and the tie-in to a fat man dressed in red fur with elves. The entire description of Christmas borders on paedophillic and spans the implausible.
It was a beautiful night with a New Moon in South Tawton, Devon, England. And the world was about to change forever... Okay, so it wasn't a star, but...
I really hope people will get behind Singing for Syrians this Christmas and help raise money for these two brilliant charities. Since the start of the conflict in 2012 the UK has allocated more than £1.1billion to help meet the immediate needs of vulnerable people in Syria and of refugees in the region. However, there is always more that can be done.
A blend of the classic Champagne grapes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier this trophy-winning wine is excellent, opening with fine bubbles and a fresh aroma with some brioche and pastry notes, but a keen limey fruit and touch of bruised apple.
I know that when Christmas comes I will be brave, and the actual day will be much better than the build-up. We're going to spend it with my parents, my sister and her family and there will be so many happy kids around I know I'll find it hard to feel too sad - or even have the time! But on Christmas Day I'll be thinking of Rog, wherever his soul may be, and sending him all the love in the world.
Ah, Christmas shopping. The smart ones among us started in August, have all their wrapping done, and are putting their feet up and smirking as they listen to the rest of us mere mortals bemoaning the hazards of shopping in December.
One thing I can never quite fathom is the arrival of the 'man' store, only there for the holiday period, stuffed full of silver gadgets in blue boxes, joke books about farts and football, remote control helicopters and other such fodder deemed 'manly.'
The streets are lit up, homes pulsing with light. Bushes twinkle in front gardens while back gardens up and down the country are dark and jealous. If you listen carefully, on this cold winter night before Christmas, you can almost, almost, hear the magical sound of the national grid wheezing...
Of course, Christmas is a time of celebration and merriment and I wish each and every one of you happiness and joy. Please let's just stop to consider the millions of lives, people who live on our street, go to school with our children, colleagues at work, men, women and children who are all dreading the time of year that has proven year after year to be a terrifying season.
Now I am sure that there are many owners who treat their exotic pets wonderfully but in my opinion these animals are not meant to be domesticated. The joy of a monkey or parrot cannot be seen when caged. It is seeing these creatures in their natural environment that brings the wonder and awe of the animal kingdom to us.
It all seemed so easy a few weeks ago. When Christmas felt like an age away and plans were being loosely discussed, your response was casual, almost cavalier. 'We'll have it at ours', you said, barely giving the size and scale of hosting Christmas dinner a second thought. Once said, almost immediately forgotten. Until now.
Beer has several properties that make it a perfect libation with food - water, carbon dioxide, hops and, quite often, bitterness (although not all beers are bitter), myriad flavours, diversity in body, texture, mouthfeel - all of which are very useful in cutting, contrasting, or complementing what we eat.