getting ready

It seems that life in early November is devoted to “getting ready”.

knitting fingerless mittens


I quickly knitted a pair of fingerless mittens ready for Bonfire Night. Usually on 5th November, the fire is built, supper is waiting to be taken outside to the fire and then there’s a mad dash around the house to find hats and gloves that haven’t been used since the previous spring. I admit that I did have to search for a hat, but my mittens knitted with a ball of alpaca yarn were laid out ready and once outside in the cold were comfortingly warm.

Next to get ready was the Christmas cake using a combination of recipes from Mary Berry, Nigella Lawson and Delia Smith with various additions and omissions. The dried fruit is soaked in Slamseys Sloe Gin rather than the prescribed sherry, there are no glace cherries in this year’s cake because I’d run out and I used freshly candied orange and lemon peel instead of the normal tough bought peel. I’m not sure that the tin absolutely needs wrapping in newspaper or brown paper for baking, but somehow it’s a tradition I find hard to break.

november morning across fields
It’s been a mild autumn, with unseasonably warm weather some days, but with the first cold mornings comes the realisation that winter is not too far away. In late summer I started to make a tray bake that has evolved through autumn.

pear chocolate fudgy fingers


autumn fruit fudgy fingers

First it was made with blackberries, then blackberry and apple, then apple on its own and finally pears. Each fruit gets a slightly different flavouring that adds a little variety. When I make this in November, we eat one half and the other half is frozen ready to feed the workforce in the Christmas Tree Barn next month. Sadly this foresight is negated when I defrost it a couple of days later because the cake tin is empty.

For the last couple of weeks we’ve been setting up the Christmas shop set up in The Barley Barn. It seems far too early to be selling Christmas decorations but it seems that there is customer demand so as ever, we bow to their command. There has been much discussion about the best layout in the barn and on occasions I’ve come back from lunch to find someone has completely changed everything around. Yesterday we said, enough’s enough. No more changes. Everything stays where it is or we’ll never be ready. It’s a big day tomorrow as the Christmas Barn opens and there’s a chocolate truffle making workshop, but not in the same space, even though that might be interesting.
Next week we’ll be getting ready for selling Christmas Trees. Our corporate orders have been coming in for the last few weeks and the enquiries have started about domestic trees. We don’t open until the end of November but there’s lots to get ready before then. Heigh-ho! Off we go again.


26 thoughts on “getting ready

  1. smalltowngirl says:

    I feel you! I’m crocheting Christmas presents, laying out dates for parties, cookie making, gift wrapping, wreath making, and don’t forget Thanksgiving!! I love this time of year!!


  2. thegardendeli says:

    You do realise that sales of Christmas decorations in many shops started as soon as the schools went back in September? … the opening of your Christmas barn in November seem very restrained by comparison. Good luck with it all – I remember your guide to buying a tree from last year, and this time I will definitely follow your advice and measure up for height before we go out buying!


    • Anne Wheaton says:

      One of my sons works in a shop that’s been playing Christmas music since the beginning of November and has already had enough. Why can’t Christmas shopping start in December?


  3. Jane @ Shady Baker says:

    Your Christmas cake baking preparations look lovely Anne. Your cake tin looks like it could tell a few stories. If I am going to bake a Christmas cake I really need to get moving with my preparations, thanks for the reminder! The chocolate truffle workshop sounds delicious. Heigh-ho!


  4. thelandroverownerswife says:

    I love those little lanterns sitting on the sideboard and Mud loves the sideboard itself. I wish we lived near enough to come visit your Christmas barn 🙂 I haven’t made my Christmas Cakes yet but that’s because I plan to make Mary Berrys’ fast Christmas Cake this year to see what its’ like ….. mind you I’ll still make it a couple of weeks early and feed it some brandy because, well, Christmas Cake must have Brandy in it and I don’t think the cake will come to any harm made a little early 😉


  5. Margot @ Gather and Graze says:

    It’s all gorgeous Anne! 🙂 You really are very talented, making those beautiful alpaca mittens! Plus you’ve inspired me to make my Christmas Cake this week – perhaps a smallish one, as we’re on our own this year… the flavour is so much nicer if made ahead of time!


  6. Annie says:

    I’m guessing the big opening took place at the weekend? I’m sure the barn was a hit however it was eventually arranged. Too early for me to be thinking about Christmas … I don’t envy you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lizzie says:

    I have just realised today that I need to get more christmasy too. Hope you have a few more warm days before the chill sets in. Love the look of the fudgey slice too.


  8. theclevercarrot says:

    It surely is the season of getting ready, I like that Anne.

    Such is the case over here as well. My essentials? Tape, scissors and stamps! The 3 things I can never find during Christmas. I place my secret stash in a box under the bed. It’s all mine 😉

    Your barn looks like such a warm and inviting place to be at the moment. I’d love to do a truffle class in there! Maybe you can get Celia to fly over… Speaking of, do you sell & ship your gin overseas? I would love to try some and support your business 🙂 x


    • Anne Wheaton says:

      I’d probably forget where I stashed them and have a last minute panic. Wouldn’t it be great to fly Celia over? We could have an In My Kitchen convention. Sorry, but we don’t ship overseas as the rules and regulations are a bit of a nightmare for a microbusiness like Beth’s gin. One day maybe.


  9. dianeskitchentable says:

    Beautiful displays in your barn. I imagine your customers will find it hard to resist buying. Those fudge fingers look great – I can’t imagine where the first half disappears to though (maybe the dogs are sneaking some treats when you aren’t looking).
    Some of our stores have had Christmas decorations up since the day after Halloween. I imagine if you are having any classes where people might be making gifts or decorations, that you need to do that well before Christmas. I always find wonderful crafts that I want to make, but alas I realize that it’s impossible when it gets to be just a couple days before Christmas. It seems that I’m really in the mood for holiday crafting when I’m less stressed about the holidays – say around January…perhaps gifts for next year.


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