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The Good Life Letter

Sunday  4th December 2011

  • The countdown is on with only 21 days 'til the big day!
  • Ray's guilty secret that often shocks his wife...
  • Online Christmas shop with us at The Good Life Letter Grotto?

My best wishes to you on this the second Sunday of Advent.

Yep, that's right the year is speeding by and we have already entered the final countdown to Christmas.

Every pub car park around me has sprouted a forest of trees for sale.

The local halls are booked out for festive bazaars, cake sales and yuletide crafts.

Even my kids schools are exhorting parents to pop in and help them with decorating day - the chance to get covered in glue and glitter in the process of making a centrepiece for the table.

Last year my attempt at a robin sitting on a log was affectionately known as the Christmas vulture amongst my adoring family!

The groundswell of commercial pressure is also beginning to build with TV being inundated with themed advertisements for this seasons must haves.

On Friday I ranted about the failings of our food industry in producing nutrient-poor rubbish to tempt the population, so I won't go there again.

But if I see another 'That's Why Mum's Go To Iceland' ad featuring a vacuous Z-list celebrity telling me to eat individual meat pies I may well explode.

For a start these foods look so unappetising I can't believe the producers think anyone would want to eat them. Even my kids squirm when they see the fluorescent coloured cheesecakes!

Secondly, I know that I will get a more nutritious meal by eating the packaging rather than the contents of the boxes - if I want to eat sugar, fat and mono-sodium glutamate I'll get a Chinese takeaway rather than base my family feats around it on Christmas day.

But the next few weeks holds a bigger fear factor for me than the crimes being committed by the food giants.

Three little words that always strike dread into my heart... Christmas gift shopping!

But I have a plan...

Dasher is a reindeer... not what you should turn into when you go Christmas gift shopping!

Now, if like me you are dreading the annual nightmare of Christmas gift shopping, I may just be able to save you from going round the bend.

Don't get me wrong, I love the joy of giving unique Christmas gifts to my nearest and dearest - it's just the whole business of wading through the hordes of shoppers on the high street I hate.

The closer to the big day we get the more frantic the great British public become about their purchases.

I have seen grown men trample over little old ladies to get the last pack of After Eight mints in town and children abandoned as Mums dart in to grab the perfect gift for Great Aunt Mabel from a display stand.

Christmas gift buying doesn't have to be that way though... a simple click onto the Good Life Letter Grotto means you can do all your Christmas shopping from the comfort of your own home plus save a bundle and actually buy your loved one gifts they'll use over and over again!

My committed team of Father Collins' Little Helpers have cherry-picked a fine selection of some of my favourite and healthiest natural products for you to treat those around you.

You'll find the perfect gift for those who live an outdoor life, those who like to look after themselves and those who enjoy a bit of pampering - which just about covers everyone I know.

There's even a fun novelty gift in there for those who don't take life too seriously. And let's just say, it's more interesting than a lump of old coal!

Having said I'm no fan of wading through the crowds to buy presents, I do have a guilty secret this time of year.

Let me share it with you...

Ray's guilty Christmas pleasure

My dear wife, Lara, really doesn't understand me.

There is nothing new in this, after all I am a man in my late forties and it goes with the territory.

As the day approaches she starts to whisper to her friends when she thinks I don't notice.

Little conspiratorial nods and winks are exchanged.

I often catch the startled looks on their faces as she tells them of my peculiar fascination.

Some of them are visibly shocked.

You see I LOVE going out for a final food shop early on Christmas Eve.

What to many people is the ultimate agony, has always been my own personal delight.

My day starts at around 7:00am when I call into my butchers and collect the turkey, a piece of gammon and some local smoked bacon.

There is always a crowd even this early, and much light hearted banter with the boys in the shop sets me up for the next stage.

A full English breakfast eaten in the marketplace cafe whilst I watch the greengrocers set up their stalls, I know it is an extravagance but it is my treat.

Whilst I load myself up with enough calories to keep the cold at bay I have the chance to spy out the best deals and plan a route round. See, there is always method in my madness.

By now I have basically finished... that is apart from the final ritual.

Just for a laugh I always visit my local supermarket and wander around the fresh food aisles to see what is on offer, and where it came from.

Good honest British Brussels sprouts always feature prominently, however, last year the carrots came from Egypt, the parsnips from Holland and the potatoes were sourced from all corners of the earth!

I buy a few chocolate coins for the kid's stockings and maybe a last few last Christmas gifts and then head home.

Feeling virtuous, and often very full, I can then take my time to boil the gammon and make a light parsley sauce to enjoy for supper around the tree.

You may agree with Lara that this isn't the act of a rational man, but it is what makes my Christmas every year.

Why not join me this time and get your feast from local producers, it makes it all worthwhile.

Get ahead of the game by visiting the Good Life Letter Grotto now for the best in natural and healthy gifts

Yours as always,






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