Christmas on the Mind

I know, I know – many of you are asking yourselves why, when August isn’t even over yet, I feel compelled to write about Christmas. Maybe I’m crazy, I really don’t know. All I do know is that Christmas is firmly on my mind and I can’t help it. So just hear me out.

I don’t want to be one of those individuals who habitually moan about the weather. But, I’ll be honest, for the past few months, I have definitely been one of those individuals. I’m tired now, though, tired of complaining and tired of feeling let down. I don’t want to complain any more. I want to move past complaining. I want to feel normal for building a fire right now or imbibing a glass of meaty red wine. Yet I can’t , for these are things I am supposed to do in November, not August. In August, the only fire I should be craving is that as part of an outdoor barbeque whilst my wine of choice should be a crisp white perfect for a warm summer’s eve. So, I am moving on, setting my sights forward, looking to the future, a future where fires can be rightly craved and big reds drunk without having a meat course in front on me.

Yes, yes, I hear you saying, that’s all well and good, but that’s all acceptable in autumn, which officially begins in September, which itself is just a day away. So, I hear you saying, let’s not go rushing ahead ourselves and start talking about Christmas. I concur. There’s just one problem, one little detail. If you recall, just this past Monday, we celebrated our last bank holiday for a couple of months. And what, precisely, is the next bank holiday? Exactly – Christmas. Christmas, the ultimate “weather neutral” bank holiday. If it rains on Christmas, we just think, well, it’s December, it’s supposed to rain. And besides, it’s Christmas, there’s plenty of hoopla to keep us distracted. If sunny, well, we consider ourselves lucky, but we don’t depend on it. If snowing, well, what could be better?

So yes, Christmas. I am looking forward to my next bank holiday where rain is inconsequential and anything else a bonus.

Of course, there’s also a second reason Christmas is on the mind. This year, we will be guests of the brilliant coastal boutique bolthole Cary Arms. I am simply beside myself. Having booked it last Christmas, I feel as though the date is now finally somewhat in reach. There is something quite daunting in booking a year in advance – it feels as though it is ages away. Now, though, it is the next holiday.

This is the first time we will not be with family and friends, and there is a part of me that is quite sad about this. Yet, the Cary Arms Christmas festivities promise to be house party “for an intimate few in a magical coastal hideaway”. Looking at the plans, which include lots of Bucks Fizz breakfasts, indulgent meals, music, and lots of time with the dogs at this utterly dog-friendly Devon hotel, I have no doubt the magic of the Cary Arms will do its best to wipe away any residual sadness. Knowing well the type of guest that books at the Cary Arms, I’m sure that, by Christmas Day, many will have become our friends. If not, well, I’ll have the luxurious Cary Arms, the gorgeous sea on my doorstep, and my three boys by my side.

Whilst the Cary Arms is now fully booked, it is still not too late to book in to a remarkable property truly welcoming to both dogs and their owners. For example, Stapleford Park, a to-die-for sporting estate in Leicestershire, is celebrating Christmas in true Stapleford style. . .mulled wine and mince pies on arrival; full afternoon tea and carols around the tree, a Christmas Eve drinks reception and canapés, a Christmas Eve gourmet buffet, Sloe Gin and mince pies on Christmas morning, a Champagne reception prior to a traditional Christmas lunch, tea and Christmas cake on Christmas Day, and, on Boxing Day, brunch and, later, a dinner dance.

Alternatively, for a more casual, yet still exquisite, Christmas celebration, the Old Swan and Minster Mill in the Cotswolds is the perfect option. Think traditional afternoon tea following a leisurely arrival, evening drinks and canapés followed by a delicious, seasonal dinner in the Dining Room, pre-bedtime hot chocolate and mince pies by roaring fires or, for those attending Midnight Mass, on their return, Bucks Fizz breakfasts, a visit by Father Christmas himself, a midday Champagne reception followed by a traditional festive five course Christmas lunch, a medieval buffet featuring the best local produce, a Boxing Day Treasure Hunt, and, as one last hurrah, a farewell dinner and dance.

Spots are going fast at both properties, so don’t delay should you be keen to book. Of course, all of the Chien Bleu perks, including waiving of the dog fee at both Stapleford Park and the Old Swan and Minster Mill, are showered on those booking their holiday through us – plus, we have a few Christmas gifts of our own. E-mail or ring (0800 033 7385) me to book or discuss other options.

In the meantime, here’s to autumn! Let the countdown to Christmas begin.

– Erin, xx

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