Favourite Reads: Rebecca

When I first started this blog, I was sure that the reading part of it would be huge. Reading has always been such a massive part of my life but, for some reason, other content has been inspiring me more. Today I’m going to start putting that right!

As I suggested in my How to Spend December post, Christmas is the perfect time to revisit an old favourite. For most bookworms like me, choosing an all-time favourite is no easy feat. For me though, it’s easy. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is my favourite book.

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I actually first read Rebecca six years ago while I was spending Christmas in Devon. It was lying around the cottage so I picked it up, and I’ve never looked back! So I thought this was the perfect time of year to talk about it, as it always brings back memories of a cosy, family Christmas in Devon.

When I read a book, I like for there to be a good story. A few twists, some memorable characters and an incredible setting are key. Rebecca has all of those elements, which is why I love it so much. There’s a fast-paced plot with an air of mystery about the elusive first wife, Rebecca, and some brilliant characters: the charming Max de Winter, the mousey second Mrs de Winter, the ghoulish Mrs Danvers and, of course, Rebecca.

The story is narrated by the second Mrs de Winter, whose name we never discover (which we could discuss for hours in an English seminar, but I’ll spare you that…!) While working as a lady’s companion she meets a handsome widower, Max de Winter, who proposes to her out of the blue and whisks her off into a new life. But when they return to his country estate, Manderley (thought to be set in Cornwall), Max is a changed man. The memory of his first wife, Rebecca, starts to haunt everything the second Mrs de Winter does as she struggles to discover who Rebecca was, and what happened to her…

It’s just brilliant. If you’ve got some time over Christmas or are planning on making a new year’s resolution to read more, start with this one. An easy romp of a read that will get you thinking, what more could you ask for?!

How to spend… December

The first advent doors have been opened, Christmas shopping is fully underway and the streets are aglow with twinkling lights overhead – it’s finally December!

This is hands down my favourite time of the year. I love the feeling of anticipation as Christmas approaches, the mad rush in the shops fulfilling wish lists, the sing-song exchanges of ‘merry Christmas!’ and, of course, the food. Here are my suggestions for the festive season…

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*Have a go at handmade gifts: Rather than fighting the crowds and spending your every last penny, have a go at making some gifts this year. They will always be hugely appreciated and it’s a fun, festive activity! For the most loved person on your ‘to buy’ list, a scrapbook is an amazing keepsake. And, in a world where all of our pictures are digital, printing out and presenting photos has something special about it. Festive baking is a great way to give in bulk, and you can make your handmade goodies look beautiful with packaging, ribbon and gift tags (try Lakeland for supplies!). Or, spend a Sunday afternoon making paperchains and Christmas cards by the fire.

*Go ice skating: My all time favourite festive activity! Even if you’re a bit wobbly on the ice, you won’t be alone and its surprising how quickly you can gain your balance and start whizzing around. If it’s really not your thing, it’s also fun to watch the crowds gliding along (with the occasional fall…) and the stewards always put on an impressive display. Grab a hot chocolate or mulled wine, enjoy the festive music and watch them go round until you feel dizzy.

*Cosy down with your favourite book: … or read the next installment of your favourite series! With the holidays coming, everyone having a little more time on their hands and the temperatures forever dropping outside, now is the perfect time to revisit an old favourite or finally getting around the reading the next part of a series. Grab a blanket and cuppa and position yourself by the fire with the intention of not moving for a few hours…

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*Take time out in a coffee shop: Immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle but without the stress. Christmas is the time of year for the coffee chains. With the fun, flavoured drinks, the festive cups and everyone rejoicing that their seasonal favourites are back, they are a great place to catch up with that friend you haven’t seen in ages, or simply people watch. Take a book or start making your to buy list, and just take an hour out from the craziness.

*Finally, eat all the mince pies!: Last of all my favourite suggestion, relax about what you’re eating. Of course, everything in moderation, but if you want the extra mince pie, or cake as well as pudding, I say go for it. This delicious, festive food will be gone before we know it. See you in the gym in January…

Merry Christmas, everyone – have a great month!

Country Living Christmas Fair

Back in September (when I was still lost and unemployed) I did a placement with Country Living magazine. It was one of the best placements I have ever done. The people were beyond lovely, the magazine is beautiful, the work was interesting and the tea rounds were frequent – what more could you ask for?!

I love my new job, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t missing the Country Living world (just a little bit…!) So, to get my slice of all things British, rural and homegrown I went along to their Christmas Fair this weekend.

Covering the length of the country with fairs in London, Harrogate and Glasgow, the Country Living Christmas Fair brings to life everything the magazine stands for. Arts and crafts, homegrown businesses and delicious food all come together to kick start the festive season. You do need to get your elbows out a bit, but it’s such a fun day full of inspiration for stocking fillers, how you’re going to present the Christmas table and more than enough tree decorations.

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Christmas is hard to ignore in London at the moment, and while it’s still a little early, now is definitely the time to start thinking about presents and festive plans! If you missed the Christmas Fairs this year, Country Living also do Spring Fairs around Easter time. If you’re organised enough to begin considering all things bunnies and chocolate, pencil it in.

Merry Christmas!