Last year we were in New York on the run up to Christmas and so we were unable to go to the Carol Service at Manchester Cathederal. We love this Christmas tradition so I was pleased when I managed to get tickets and we went last Monday. It really gets you in the Christmas spirit and feeling festive.
As it was my birthday the week before, Pizza Express had sent me a code for a free bottle of Prosecco, bottle of wine or four bottles of beer. We decided to catch the tram into the city centre and have a meal at one of the many city centre branches before the service. David, myself and my dad all went to the branch just off Peter Square and had the free bottle of Prosecco (£23.40 worth). We ordered a portion of dough balls to share but these were forgotten by the waitress so instead we plumped for the dough ball dessert. The snowballs were hot and delicious with a sprinkling of icing sugar and cinnamon and served with salted caramel dip.
The service was fabulous as usual and as always rather eclectic. The brass band is simply brilliant and everyone seems to sing their hearts out to the traditional carols. What makes me smile is the choice of songs by the various community groups who have a turn. Some Enchanted Evening? and The Rythm of Life? Both sung beautifully by an extensive and animated female choir in red and gold spangle dresses. They were just brilliant and really entertaining.
There was a poignancy to a quartet from the Halle Orchestra who played the Oasis track Don't Look back in Anger. It has become the song for Manchester after the Manchester Arena bomb earlier this year. At the same time there was the use of the bumblebee as the symbol of Manchester. Many of us have the bumblebee logo on our work email signatures. Proud to be a Mancunian.
I bought fresh cranberries (reduced price off course) from Marks & Spencer on Thursday and made fresh cranberry sauce on Saturday morning. It is the easiest sauce in the world to make and tastes far better than a jar from the supermarket. Fresh cranberries, brown sugar and water or orange juice. I had a half jar of orange & cinnamon flavoured sugar in my pantry so I used this. Ten minutes on a low simmer and some of the cranberries have burst and some stayed whole, which makes for a great texture. I keep a supply of kilner style jars in my garage so used two of these and some white & red ribbon to finish. The jars had been bought full of pate or chutney and once used I peeled the labels off the jars, washed them and kept them for later use. Easy Peasy.
Waitrose have had a number of half prices offers on each weekend in December. We have already bought half price Christmas cakes and this Saturday it was half price fresh desserts. Waitrose are pretty famous for their Heston Blumenthal range so I could not resist the quirky Brussels sprout dessert. At the full price of £16, I thought this was outrageous and a rip-off. At the half price of £8, I still thought this was cheeky but after a discussion with David, we decided to blow the budget for Christmas and treat ourselves. It's tucked away in the spare fridge for next week. I think there's an element of showmanship in it and it made the front page of the freebie Waitrose magazine.
I've been working my way through my collection of Christmas films and so far have watched The Santa Clause (1, 2 & 3), Scrooged and The Nutcracker. What a Wonderful Life (black & white and colourised versions) and White Christmas are being saved to watch next weekend. I have quite a few more to watch during the week too.
The Christmas scented candles have been lit and at the moment Christmas Cookie is favourite. I have a large jar and tealights lit most evenings in the lounge. The scent and glow from them is lovely. So restful.