August Bank Holiday

It all depends on which camp you sit in – do you approach the last and longest weekend of August with sadness because of September’s back-to-work vibe, or do you embrace it knowing that the kids who’ve been under your feet for the best part of seven weeks will soon return to school?

Whatever you’re feeling, sitting at home is not an option. Bank Holiday Weekends are rare and precious treats and there’s all manner of things to do up and down the country, whether you’re single, married, with kids or retired.

British bank holidays are public holidays and have been recognised since 1871. The name Bank Holiday comes from the time when banks were shut and so no trading could take place. For the millennials amongst you, there wasn’t even internet banking then!

And while there are eight permanent bank and public holidays in England, Wales and Scotland, we should all be envious of Northern Ireland which treats their workers to 10.

So what to do? If uniform shopping isn’t on your radar, and nor should it be, here’s a quick guide to some Bank Holiday fun.

TimeOut, as ever, should be your first port of call for London happenings. It’s guide – http://www.timeout.com/london/things-to-do/top-10-things-to-do-this-august-bank-holiday – is a whistle-stop tour of the capital, packed with treats for everyone and every budget.

From the Notting Hill Carnival to the Southbank Festival of Love, they’ve got it covered.

Of course, if you’re outside the Big Smoke, then why not show your support at the Bog Snorkelling Championships in Wales (http://www.green-events.co.uk/events.html?page=2&id=57) or head across to the North West and take your choice between Manchester Pride’s Big Weekend or the Bolton Food and Drink Festival (http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/august-bank-holiday-2016-manchester-11757023).
So it doesn’t matter whether you’re celebrating or commiserating, make this a Bank Holiday to remember!

Wimbledon Food Festival

Eat, drink, sleep, repeat; eat, drink, sleep, repeat…

Christmas has a funny habit of enlarging the waistband, with many of us unable to walk four paces without stopping to nibble on a bit of cheese, or plunder a pork pie, or wash breakfast down with a champagne cocktail.

The invites flood in, the buffets get bigger and the temptation to ‘make yourself comfy’ can mean December’s a write off, pretty much from day one.

But while we’ve all had enough by January the 1st, food and drink is so central to the whole festivities that come August and we’re already salivating at the prospect of mum’s Christmas pud.

One way to get yourselves in the foodie mindset is to check out the fabulous Wimbledon Park Food Festival which runs from August 27 to 29.

There’ll be crepes, wood-fired pizzas, gourmet burgers and barbecues, chutneys, jams, cakes and fudge, cheese, beers, cider and prosecco – a simply phenomenal rainbow of produce from some of the best producers in the country.

Wimbledon Park is like a second home to us and hosts one of our brilliant Pop Up store locations each year. The park is one of the most adored in London and has acres of space for little ones to roam, and big ones for that matter, plus one of the biggest lakes in south London.

While the countdown to Christmas has yet to begin in earnest, there’s something wonderful about gathering ideas for how to wow your guests when the festivities begin.

 

Prosecco here we come!

http://www.fantasticbritishfoodfestivals.com/wimbledon-park-food-festival.html

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#GiftATree

Christmas is all about giving, right? But Christmas can also be about stress – what to cook, what to wear, what to buy…

Here at Pines and Needles we’re always on the lookout for ways to make your lives easier at arguably the most frantic time of the year. If we can remove even one of those worry lines that tend to amass on Christmas Eve then we’ll consider it a job done.

That’s why we’ve introduced a new service where you can gift a tree to someone else – a sibling, a friend, a colleague, a business, or a neighbour who you think really needs it. It’s like sending flowers but A MILLION TIMES BETTER.

Just think how amazing it would be to get a giant package landing on your doorstep, sent from a well-wishing friend or family member, which then is the centrepiece of your entire Christmas celebrations.

No-one’s going to turn their nose up at a Christmas tree, or stick it in the loft and re-gift it next year, or bring it out for the annual mother-in-law visit and then put it away again. They’re going to whoop with delight, unpack all the decorations immediately and get creative. They’re going to get all teary-eyed as they realise that you’ve been thinking of them at Christmas time and it will be the one gift that truly sums up the meaning at this time of year.

It ticks so many boxes – eco-friendly, family-friendly, original – so why not play at being Santa this year and gift a tree to your nearest and dearest.

There are two ways you can gift a tree: simply forward one of our E-Vouchers to the recipient, or set up the surprise delivery yourself. Whatever you choose, we will guide you through the process so it has maximum impact.

Olympics

It feels like we’ve already been subjected to a summer of sport, yet the biggest event is about to begin – the Olympic Games.

Despite fears over the Zika virus, thousands of athletes will descend on Rio de Janeiro for a festival of fitness between August 5th and 21st.

One event which sadly won’t be on the big stage is arguably the most exciting of all – Christmas tree throwing!

Yes, it’s a sport, and countries all over the world have their own championships to decide who is the most fearless fir flinger of all.

The Germans are the pioneers when it comes to Christmas tree throwing. In 2016, probably the most experienced Christmas tree thrower, Frank Schwender, will have the chance to win the tournament for the unprecedented 4th year in a row. Last year, he took the crown with a total distance of 22.45m.

Each thrower carries his own tree and there are three different throwing categories: ‘Hammerwurf’(hammer-style), ‘Weitwurf’ (javelin-style) and ‘Hochwurf’ (highjump-style).

After all three challenges are taken, each thrower’s distances are added up to find out the the winner. At the end of the tournament, a big bonfire is built out of the Christmas trees.

The Irish follow hot on the heels of the Germans and last year held their fourth annual championship in Ennis with nearly 250 participants.  The UK Christmas tree throwers seem to be the rookies in this battle with only one championship so far, which took place in Keele and was won by ex-marine Owen Davies with a combined score of 15,4m.

But you never know. Come Tokyo in 2020, we could see an altogether different sport grab the public imagination. And if Rio’s plan to plant 24 million trees to offset carbon emissions comes true, it could be the most eco-friendly sport out there!

Introducing, our brand new decoration themes for 2016

We love it when the family comes together to decorate the tree – one person doing the lights, another taking charge and children littering the branches with anything they can get their hands on.

But if you want to make life easy this year, or you’re looking for a theme, our experts have done the hard work for you.

They’ve come up with signature sets, themed collections and all manner of novelty ideas to inspire you this Christmas, with each look enabling you to deck the halls and be the envy of your friends.

Jewelled Christmas – If you want your home to sparkle this Christmas, our jewelled collection is the perfect choice. Packed with flamboyant finishes and dazzling touches, Christmas will come alive in a shimmering sea of colour and joy.

Winter Woodland – Imagine a forest stroll with a crisp frost underfoot, or toasting marshmallows on a roaring campfire. This collection sums up the beauty and magic of the great British woodland, offering everything from natural decorations to leafy picks.

Frozen Hues – Capture the spirit of Christmas with this ultra-cool collection of white, silver and glass festive accessories. Luxurious in its graceful purity this is the range for those who want a statement winter-themed arrangement certain to delight and dazzle.

Santa’s Coming – Perfect for those with children, this is a collection aimed at spreading joy and cheer throughout the festive season. Bright colours, popular Christmas characters and trees dripping in fun, this collection will amuse and create excitement in equal measure.

Nordic Enchantment – The Scandinavians are kings of classic style with effortless elegance the main theme of this collection. Delicate, dignified, but also artistic in the way these pieces have been brought together, this range will entrance and mesmerise.

Royal Peacock – Stand out from the crowd with a palette of rich berry tones with inspiration taken from the dramatic display that is the Peacock’s beautiful plumage. This collection is aristocratic and clever for a room or home which demands something deliciously different.

Highland Fling – Traditionally a favourite this is a collection inspired by Christmas crimson, tartan and heritage. With a definite nod to the history of Pines and Needles, this treasure trove has warmth and old-world charm in abundance with a tribute to celebrations of a bygone era.

It’s not just about the tree this Christmas – make every room a celebration with Pines & Needles.

Royal Peacock

When the decoration experts at Pines & Needles were looking for inspiration for this year’s collections, they travelled the length and breadth of the country to find it. They tramped through woodlands, sought solace in the countryside and revelled in nostalgia.

One of the biggest impressions was made by The Bird and Deer Park, an extraordinary wildlife centre in Gloucestershire.

We loved the deer and the donkeys, the reindeers and kookaburras, but by far and away the standout moment was the parade of peacocks in all their feathered finery.

As colourful as Trooping the Colour, as stylish as London Fashion Week, the birds put on a technicolour display for all the visitors who’d come for a look at their famous plumage.

And now is the time to see them in all their glory! The Bird Park has a fantastic array of free peafowl and their iconic calls can be heard from far and wide.

As well as the recognisable Indian Blue, the park also boasts the Black Shouldered and famous White species, which revel in their resplendent glory throughout the summer: http://www.thebirdpark.com/attractions/peafowl

Our own Royal Peacock collection has been based on these most regal of birds, with the shimmering blues and rich tones reflected throughout the dazzling range.

From baubles and picks through to tinsel and wreaths, every home should indulge in our most opulent range to date.

See the peacocks this summer, recreate their magic this winter.