December !

Christmas bauble

It’s 1st December. A man is selling Christmas trees on the square nearby. The street lights are up, which makes the early dark evenings more tolerable, sparkly & pretty even.  And most importantly, it’s two weeks till I’m out of the office. Yay!

~ Spotted Cow

Christmas cards

Letter box

It’s December and I’m waiting for the Christmas cards to slip through the mailbox.

Christmas cards originated in the UK. Sir Henry Cole – first director of the Victoria & Albert museum – liked writing greetings to his family and friends, and found it a bit of a faff to write the same thing over & over again during the holiday season. In 1843, he thus commissioned a Christmas card with the message “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you”, which we still use today.

I love the Christmas card ritual. It’s a chance to engage with friends that I haven’t managed to keep up with through the year because we all have busy lives. That said, I’m always a bit disappointed by the ones I receive that only have signed names – the odd one doesn’t even have that – and no personal message. Why bother, I wonder. Although, they did think of me, so I should be appreciative of small mercies !

~ Spotted Cow

Christmas cards

Vienna. Eating to stay warm.

Let’s go back to somewhere seasonally cold.  Vienna in December is -1°C to 3°C.  It didn’t take away from the atmosphere of the Christmas markets, but honestly, it felt colder than that. Brrr. Regular pitstops at the hot chocolate and mulled wine stalls were essential. We’d linger for warmth at the stalls cooking large pans of potatoes. I could barely get my fingers out of my gloves to take photographs.

It brings to the fore, food as fuel. We dropped into the Esterhazykeller for lunch. It’s a traditional Viennese wine tavern that’s been around since 1683.  It’s subterranean – well, it’s a cellar –  and you sit in cosy wooden booths among the caverns of vaults. We ate roast pork with dumplings and cabbage, as suggested by the guidebook, and we drank beer.  It was probably delicious and nourishing, but I don’t remember. All I could think was that I needed to get in some food to pad the sides for another foray into the cold.

~ Spotted Cow

Esterhazykeller sign Esterhazykeller insideVienna Christmas market Vienna lebkuchen stall