Hamsterley in winter

In an effort to make your holiday season go with a swing and remain problem free I have saved you all time and compiled a list of essentials to get you through it.  If followed carefully and to the letter you may make it to January without exploding or maiming a relative.  So grab a  pencil and notepad and away we go…. 

Nurofen (more than normal) 


Glenfiddich- the expensive one 


A family 

Heating oil 

A working TV 

Another working TV when you get sick of all your family and need some space 

The sound of children’s laughter 



Hugs under the mistletoe 

A shovel 

Sky HD+ 

A turkey 


Quality Street 

Party poppers 

Roast parsnips 

Sloe Gin 

Think that’s got it covered. Feel free to suggest more. 



The Laminated Book of Dreams

I wish I could tell you that the most read book in our house is perhaps a collection of French prose,  or Ulysses, or even Dan Brown. Something intellectual, something stimulating. Something for the four of us to debate long into the night over cheap port and Maltesers. Or even just during the commercial breaks in the X Factor.

Sadly not. It is in fact the Argos catalogue. Thousands of pages offering everything from beds to bedknobs; dog beds to dogs (well you never know)…all available by phone or online. Or even by actually moving and visiting a store.

Catalogues seem to spring to life at this time of the year. The children, previously barred from mentioning the C word until mid November, have now been unshackled and are rapidly assembling Christmas lists with the Argos book of dreams playing a key role in their deliberations.

And I am more than happy to join them. Catalogues have played a key role in British households for decades and ours was no exception. I seem to recall Littlewoods and Grattans as a spotty teenager. Of course back then all that interested me were the toys, occasional fashion pages (“get your Bay City Rollers bell bottoms here!”) and mainly the underwear section….for many adolescents their first furtive glimpse into the complex and frankly intimidating world of female undergarments.

Not a lot has changed. Sadly Argos does not provide such a key educational service but for some reason both myself and wife are still keen on the Next catalogue. I wonder what she’s looking at?