I’m behind with my Christmas preparations, as usual, but I finally got my mincemeat made for the pies. No real recipe this year – I just used whatever dried fruit and spices I had. The white pieces are toasted cashews. I don’t use suet and never have – I don’t see why anyone would add fat to a sweet preserve. There are chopped dates, nice big raisins, the zest and juice from a couple of oranges and a lemon, cinnamon, soft brown sugar and candied ginger. I didn’t have port, but there was a bottle of whisky lying around so I used that and added a glug of red wine, which I figure amounts to the same thing. Boil it up, simmer and place in a sterilised jar. There should’ve been mixed spice or at least nutmeg, but it still tasted good, so I don’t think anyone will notice.

A trip to Winchester. the city was very attractive with its Christmas decorations. Above are a small contingent of a brass band playing festive songs by the tree. It took me back to my childhood, watching Kirkbymoorside Brass Band playing Silent Night, one of my mum’s favourites, in the glow of a streetlight.

I wish I had photos of the lights at night, but it was bitterly cold so I wasn’t hanging around to take pictures. Sorry about that.

Winchester war memorial

Winchester Cathedral, the crowds gathering for a Christmas market.

Research material. Black IPA! I don’t think Alan would approve. He’d say, “It looks like stouts and it tastes like stout, so why call it something else entirely?”

On the other hand, it is brewed in Cornwall, so he might give it the benefit of the doubt. Especially after a sip or two. It was quite strong.

Exeter looking festive

The Blue Boy statue in Exeter in the Princesshay shopping centre. This little chap looks brand new, but he has a very long history spanning hundreds of years. He is blue to signify the blue uniforms worn by pupils at a local school.

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