I know what you’re thinking… it’s not Christmas, and it’s not July.
I’ve just asked Siri and there are till 143 days to go, so why the hell am I writing about Christmas?
Before I became a blogger I’d never heard of ‘Christmas in July’ but it’s a thing in the world of retail. Retailers start promoting their Christmas lines to journalists and bloggers in July, by hosting a series of events where we can watch product demonstrations, taste the turkey with all the trimmings and tell our readers what’s in store for the festive season.
And no, it hasn’t passed me by that it’s now August. I attended a few Christmas in July shows – in July – but have only just got my act together to bring you the best bits, so apologies all round.
Ocado was my first stop, and the journey itself was eventful as I passed a film crew, setting up shots for a period drama in Tavistock Square. I love seeing women in beautiful corseted dresses and bonnets, drinking coffee out of paper cups and actors in all their tailored finery smoking fags while they wait for their instructions.
The Ocado show was my favourite, being a foodie. They’d created a laboratory themed event, with the Ocado representatives all wearing lab coats. There was much tasting to be done here, starting with incredible rosemary and sea salt Prestat truffles – it shouldn’t work but it does. Hors d’oeuvres highlights included Wolf & Evans ‘3 wise eggs’ – scotch eggs which retain a slightly runny yolk, and RR Spink & Sons’ Smoked Salmon Bonbons – mousse covered in beetroot jelly. They just melt in the mouth.
The main attraction was the spread of meats, fish and vegetarian alternatives for Christmas Dinner. The Three Fish Roast in Champagne Sauce was layer upon layer of juicy, light salmon, monkfish and smoked haddock with a herb stuffing (pictured here).
The lamb was the most tender I’d ever tasted. Cooked to perfection.
I rolled out of that show, most satisfied and very happy to have some snacks from The Snaffling Pig to eat on the way home!
Another day, another show. The Currys PC World Christmas in July press show was all about the Internet of Things: ovens you can turn on remotely; fridges that advise you when it’s time to stock up and all manner of other gadgets you can control with a smartphone.
Of course I was drawn to the kitchen appliances, particularly the Tefal Actifry. A chef demonstrated how easy it is to make a healthy chicken stir fry with its automatic timing and temperature control. He just popped all the ingredients in, turned on the Actifry and got on with making other dishes for 15 minutes until the stir fry was ready to eat. It has Bluetooth connectivity as well, obvs.
Other cool gadgets included robots, security cameras which transmit images to your smartphone, and the Tile – a tracker device which you can have on your keyring or hidden in any valuable item.
Finally, the House of Fraser press show was all about luxury and pampering.
Held in a lovely town house in the middle of Soho, I stepped into the first room and was offered canapes and a lesson in calligraphy with Suzie from À L’aise Stationery.
I was then treated to a full set of dramatic eyelash extensions by Benito Browbar, which have concessions in many House of Fraser stores. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to wear mascara for a few days, but they did start to annoy me as I had to avoid my eyes when cleansing. I pulled them all out in the shower.
Two lovely makeup artists from Charlotte Tilbury were on hand to re-apply the makeup I’d taken off before the extensions were applied. I’m a big fan of this range. I recommend making an appointment with one of their House of Fraser makeup artists for a makeover – they’re very knowledgeable and talented. But don’t expect to walk away without spending a shed-load of money.
Also on display were beautiful sequined evening gowns and other festive fashion; lush soft furnishings and accessories – my favourite was this incredibly soft white stripe faux-fur throw in the photo above; and lavish table settings.
So that was Christmas in July 2016. Start making your list for Santa.
Now onto Easter in August.