Go Ape!

There’s more to Battersea Park then meets the eye – just look up!

As well as being the location for one of our most popular Christmas stores, decked out with everything from our world-beating Christmas trees to our unrivalled wreaths and garlands, it’s now also home to one of London’s coolest ‘branches’ of Go Ape.

Climbing to new heights is the Go Ape Tree-Top Adventure – the first thrill-seeking activity of its kind in central London and destined to become a mecca for children and adults alike. After all, the thrill of climbing a tree doesn’t end just because you get a mortgage!

The city hides many gems amidst the urban sprawl, from galleries and museums to show-stopping family adventures, but this is definitely up there on the list of must-see activities.

Exploring the outdoors is known to have so many benefits for health and well-being but this is also the perfect opportunity to give youngsters more confidence when soaking up the great outdoors.

Incorporating some of the park’s taller trees, the city experience includes knee-knocking crossings that are double the height of most Go Ape adventures, and many are twice as long, making them extra wobbly and challenging.

There’s also a Junior Tree Top Adventure for really mini-Tarzans.

Sounds like so much fun and who doesn’t love a bit of adventure. Check it out https://goape.co.uk/days-out/battersea

Just don’t go trying to climb our trees when you get them home this Christmas!

National Ice Cream Day

You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!

It’s summer, it’s hot (well, warm at least) and school’s out –  reason enough for anyone to head for the freezer aisle to stock up on all kinds of frozen goodies.

Are you a Magnum kinda person? A licker or a biter? Or is the sharp tang of a sorbet more your thing?

Those who indulge in treats of the frozen kind will be celebrating National Ice Cream Day on July 17. In fact there are hundreds and thousands of reasons why you should indulge!

Whether it’s the traditional rainbow options of neapolitan or the more adventurous taste journeys of bacon and egg ice cream (courtesy of Heston Blumenthal), there are said to be over 1,000 flavours of ice cream today and nothing to stop anyone adding to that list by taking a recipe and making their own with a few added twists.

Even for those Whovillians amongst us – that’s Christmas lovers to you and me – there’s all manner of ways to give your ice cream a festive makeover.

http://morellisgelato.com/festive-ice-cream-recipes

http://www.delish.com/holiday-recipes/christmas/g1430/holiday-season-ice-cream-flavors/

http://www.yummly.com/recipes/christmas-ice-cream-flavors

https://www.asdagoodliving.co.uk/food/recipes/ice-cream-snowmen

 

We’ve done a straw poll in the office and realised there are few problems that can’t be solved with ice cream. Indeed, who has ever seen anyone look unhappy when eating an ice cream? Except maybe the wailing toddler who just lost their blob of vanilla as it toppled off the cone.

But whether a cone, cup or bowl is your vessel of choice, National Ice Cream Day is a significant date on the calendar – it was first declared as such by none other than Ronald Reagan back in 1984.

http://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/national-ice-cream-day-third-sunday-in-july/

He wasn’t the only White House incumbent to enjoy a scoop of the chilled stuff, with Ben Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson all setting the tone.

Its origins are legendary. The ancient Greeks started eating honey and fruit-covered snow in the 5th century BC. Way back then the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, encouraged his Ancient Greek patients to eat ice “as it livens the lifejuices and increases the well-being”.

Hear hear!

Ice cream found its way to the UK in the 17th Century thanks to Charles I by way of Italy (of course – the land of Just One Cornetto), who was so impressed with the “frozen snow” he offered his own ice cream maker a lifetime pension to keep the formula secret. Luckily for us it is no longer a treat reserved for the rich, royal or famous.

So enjoy National Ice Cream Day – it’s too good for you not to. Get in on the act nationally by posting some pictures of your favourite ice cream moment to social media tagging @pinesaandneedles with the hashtag #NationalIceCreamDay.

Outdoor Lighting

We were in Ilkley last week – the Chelsea of the north, so it’s called. The town’s parish councillors voted some time ago to keep lights up throughout the year along its high street. And what a difference it makes. Summer evenings are given a continental flavour while dark and gloomy evenings are transformed with soft pools of light. http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/9850616.It___s_Christmas_all_year_round_/

 

We think everyone should go a bit Ilkley this year. What’s the point of lighting up your house for just a couple of weeks a year when they can make such a difference all year round?

 

Bedrooms scream for soft lighting and there are many ways you can create a romantic look with a string of fairy lights. We stumbled upon this fabulous Pinterest board which has 1,000 ideas on how to make your bedroom stand out – https://www.pinterest.com/explore/bedroom-fairy-lights/

 

Country Living, too, put outdoor lights at number three in its feature on how to add a bit of romance into the garden. Drape them from a pergola, wend them round a tree or embed them in some shrubbery, the choice is yours! http://www.countryliving.co.uk/homes-interiors/gardens/a731/how-to-add-romance-to-your-garden/

 

But fairy lights don’t just light up your life, they can also add sparkle wherever you go. We love the Shine Night Walk, the brilliant Cancer Research UK fundraiser which takes place in London this September, as thousands of walkers deck themselves out in LEDs to bring a really positive shimmer to this vitally important event. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/find-an-event/charity-walks/shine-night-walk

So don’t leave your fairy lights in the loft til Christmas. Get them out now or pick up the very latest designs from our Pines & Needles today!

Christmas in July

Ok, so we know that Britain will be glued to the TV watching Wimbledon this summer, or the Euros (if you’re Welsh), or the Olympics, but while July and August bring the best weather of the year there’s a growing army of people who can’t wait for Christmas.

So as they dig out their Santa sweaters and head off to the nearest pine forest in search of a tree, we’ve had a look at the phenomenon that is Christmas in July.

For the wordsmiths amongst you, someone who is infatuated with Christmas is known as a Whovillian. Given we’ve been working on all things Christmas for 20 years, we definitely fit into that category!

As you would expect, the Christmas in July movement started across the pond and has gathered momentum ever since. The love is spreading, so much so that the Aussies have become huge fans because their winter is in July – they may not have snow but at least it’s a little cooler than the scorching December temperatures.

Closer to home there’s plenty of opportunity to get into the festive spirit. You may not want to go the whole hog (or indeed the whole turkey) but there are some simple things you can do to celebrate the occasion.

We enjoyed these suggestions from blogger Jamie Harrington, who’s come up with a whole host of party ideas to get your yuletide celebrations into full swing. Check out her frozen hot chocolate (an oxymoron if ever we saw one), strawberry Santas and the incredible candy cane nails.

And who can resist this Christmas in July sandman that we saw on BuzzFeed.

Here at Pines & Needles our Christmas started in February, with a superhuman effort needed to ensure our product and service gets better every year.

We’re not quite at the party-hat-and-streamer stage in the office but we’re so excited about our new offerings for 2016 which include mesmerising decorations, sumptuous wreaths and everything you need to make your Christmas go with a bang – whether it’s in July or December!