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Roast Chestnuts Day…

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose 
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos 

Everybody knows…… 

Are you humming along? It’s hard not too isn’t it? 

With only 11 days until Christmas, it seems fitting that today is Roast Chestnuts Day. 

Are you a fan? I am, and so is my wife. That delicious smell of roasted chestnuts that infiltrates your nostrils as you peel back the skin to reveal the warm nutty texture – yum!

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Roast Chestnuts have been around for donkey’s years, with historians suggesting that the 16th century was the turning point, when nuts were sold by street vendors to anyone wanting a quick and warming snack.   

In Portugal, it’s tradition to eat them roasted on Saint Martin’s Day, and in Tuscany on Saint Simon’s Day. 

Did you know that chestnuts are nutritious, comparatively low in calories and are a good source of fibre. They are also very rich in vitamin C. 

Although they are nuts, they taste very unlike other nuts. The sweet, earthy taste is certainly worth a try if you’ve never had one before – and Roast Chestnuts Day is the perfect time to try that first one. 

If you are lucky enough to live near Christmas markets, you are sure to find a chestnut seller on hand.

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But it’s not just on the street you can find chestnuts cooking. You can also cook them yourself at home using your conventional kitchen oven. All you need to do is cut a cross into each nut, put them on a roasting tin and bake them until the skins open. They are eaten after peeling away the tough, shiny skin. I like to add a nob of butter and a pinch of salt to mine, but it’s up to you.

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So go on, give them try, what’s stopping you?

Pretend to be a time traveler…

What a great day today is – Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day.  

I have always loved the idea of time travel, right from an early age when I first watched Doctor Who, I was hooked.  

Time travel has captured our imaginations for generations.  Scientists and authors come back to the topic time and time again (see what I did there!), so it should come as no surprise that there is a day set aside to pretend to be a time traveler.   

We’ve seen it for years on TV, books and movies – here are a few examples: 

Television –  Doctor Who, Quantum Leap, Outlander, Voyagers, The Time Tunnel
Books –  A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Movies – Groundhog Day, Back to the Future, The Terminator, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Midnight in Paris 

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So, what can you do today to act like a time traveler I hear you ask?  Firstly, choose your time period and decide whether you are travelling to the past or the future, and then have some fun with it.  

Be overly shocked when someone says, “I’d kill for a double mocha latte right now,” or “That car is the sick.”  Misuse technology.  When someone offers you earbuds to listen to a new song, sniff them to see if they smell good.  It’s all a bit of fun for those willing to try. 

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My next book that I am currently working on is featured around time travel. I won’t give anymore away as it is still early days, but I must admit, I am very excited. 

So, go on embrace it. Fellow time travel fans, today is for you! 

This picture is taken inside the SS Great Britain 1845!

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Christmas shopping….

Can you hear it? The excited cries of children as they eagerly await the jolly man in the red suit to visit Christmas morning, laden with gifts galore! 

But what does that mean for busy mums and dads, infact busy people in general? 

Do you love or dread Christmas shopping? Does the thought of going to a crowded shopping centre fill you with dread, or spark the inner child?

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Personally, I love it. The crisp, cold weather, the smell of roasted chestnuts, the excited hum of people, and the sound of Christmas carols echoing out.  

Now, in all honesty, I do prefer the Cotswolds villages to do my shopping. You can be guaranteed to find that something special for that someone special, while at the same time enjoying the charming picture-perfect scene that lays before you.  

The Christmas markets in particular are really very special, with the cute little painted huts, the samples of mulled wine and mince pies, the Victorian dressed carollers, ice skating on the lake and the real-life reindeer!

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Now true, not everyone can be fortunate enough to experience a village Christmas. If you live in the city, it can be quite a different experience – fighting the ques, trying to find a car park, over priced goods.  

So, what about internet shopping? Have you tried it? It certainly takes the stress out of battling hordes of people, not to mention you can spend time at your leisure to browse the various sites to get the best deals delivered to your door. Maybe even a hot chocolate in hand as you shop?

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Here are a few sites that I’ve found great for internet shopping –GrouponvouchercloudamazonSecret Sales – all are worldwide, so even better. 

Whether you love or loath Christmas shopping, why not embrace the season and give it a go. Maybe visit a village, or a new city, or perhaps make something special. Maybe even my website for a few book ideas – www.mhlord.com

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Whatever you do – enjoy 🎁

Thanksgiving…

A day to spend with our loved ones infront of a cosy fire, a delicious meal on the table, and great conversation.  But how did it all begin…. 

It began as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, and around the same part of the year in other places. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.

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One thing that I always associate with Thanksgiving, is the Macy’s Day Parade.  The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City is the world’s largest parade 

 As the United States prospered during the Roaring Twenties, so did New York City’s iconic department store—Macy’s. After going public in 1922, R. H. Macy & Co. started to acquire competitors and open regional locations. Macy’s flagship store in Manhattan’s Herald Square did such a brisk business that it expanded in 1924 to cover an entire city block stretching from Broadway to Seventh Avenue along 34th Street. 

To showcase the opening of the “World’s Largest Store” and its 1 million square feet of retail space at the start of the busy holiday shopping season, Macy’s decided to throw New York a parade on Thanksgiving morning.

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Today, millions of people line the streets in the chilly New York winter to get the best spot to watch as hundreds of brightly coloured floats, balloons, marching bands and so much more entertain and delight for Thanksgiving.

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So, as you sit at the dinner table this year and reflect on the year that has been, what three things will you be thankful for? A roof over your head, food on the table, a warm bed to sleep in, loving family and friends. If you have that, than you are indeed truly blessed. 

Happy Thanksgiving – M H Lord.

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Sesame Street….

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to…….

Are you finishing off the tune in your head?

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We all watched and loved it as a kid, Sesame Street – so it is only right to take time and take a look at today, officially Sesame Street Day.

I used to love Sesame Street as a kid – the favourites Big Bird, Bert & Ernie, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Miss Piggy and my very favourite of all – Kermit!

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It was this day in 1969 that Sesame Street first aired, a pioneering TV show that would teach generations of young children the alphabet and how to count.

Sesame Street, with its memorable theme song (“Can you tell me how to get/How to get to Sesame Street”), went on to become the most widely viewed children’s program in the world. It has aired in more than 120 countries.

Sesame Street Day itself, was first established in 2009 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its original broadcast, and almost 10 years on, we are still celebrating. Next year will be the 50th anniversary!

As you can imagine, this occasion is now recognised by tens of thousands of individuals from around the world. In fact, the number of followers continues to grow each year.

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Taking a cue from “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In,” a popular 1960s variety show, “Sesame Street” was built around short, often funny segments featuring puppets, animation and live actors.  One of its most-loved aspects is the family of puppets known as Muppets. Joan Ganz Cooney hired puppeteer Jim Henson (1936-1990) to create a cast of characters that became Sesame Street institutions, including Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Grover and Big Bird.

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So, no matter who your favourite character is, why not commemorate Sesame Street Day by reliving your youth and watch an old episode. Ah the memories……

Candy Day…

I think this day was especially designed for me! I love candy, my favourite being boiled sweets and my favourite of all – Napoleans. There’s nothing like the sweet, hard exterior that gives way to a rush of sour sherbet – a definite face puller of candy.

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Having an inquisitive mind, I looked into the history of Candy Day, and learnt that in the early 13th century the English borrowed a word from the French who in turn adopted it from the Arabic word “Qandi” meaning “to be made from sugar.”

Now, we all know that the natural sweet taste of honey has been a favourite since ancient times, but did you know that the Egyptians, Arabs and the Chinese used it to make candied fruits? The honey helped with the preservation and ability to store fruits as they travelled.

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Now, whereas I love boiled sweets, my wife loves chocolate. Her particular weakness being Charbonnel et Walker, the pink champagne truffles especially.

Charbonnel et Walker was established by the encouragement of Prince of Wales, Edward VII, in 1875. Madame Virginie Eugenie Lévy, née Charbonnel, of Maison Boissier chocolate house in Paris and Mrs Minnie Walker began a partnership in London as “Parisian Confectioners and Bon-Bon Manufacturers.”

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And finally, it was cave man who made the very first candy ever. It was made out of honey by drying it and forming a taffy-like concoction to satisfy their sweet tooth.

It’s believed that Indians were the first to use the sweet juice of sugarcane about 3000 years ago and that they were the first to make brown sugar.

So, whether you are a die-hard chocolate fan like my wife, or prefer hard boiled candy as I do, use today as an excuse to treat yourself to a decadent delight – enjoy!

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Halloween…

Are you a fan of Halloween? Do you go ‘Trick or Treating’? Or do you disagree with the whole concept. 

Back when I was a child growing up in New Zealand, Halloween wasn’t really an event. Of course, I knew about it, but it was never part of the calendar year as such. Now a days, like everything I guess, it has become commercialised and I have to say, rather a major event.

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But do you know the history of Halloween? 

The origin of this particular festival is somewhat in dispute. For many years there has been both pagan and Christian practices that have evolved into what we call Halloween today. Some say it originates from the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain, meaning ‘Summer’s End’ which celebrates the end of harvest season, while others say Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve is actually All Saints’ Eve, a celebration observed in many countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day.

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And what about the activities? 

Probably the most known and enjoyed Halloween activity is  trick-or-treating but there is also pumpkin carving into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires (although I find this one rather sinister), apple bobbing and visiting haunted attractions. 

It’s all a bit of harmless fun, that can be a great excuse for the family to come together for a bit of a lark.

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So whatever you are doing this Halloween, have fun with it, and watch out for ghosts!