'It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, in Shepton Mallet! Last Saturday, our beautiful Collett Park was full of stalls selling locally made festive gifts, food, drink and even mistletoe. Collett Park cafe organised the ‘Christmas Stocking Filler Market’’ to promote local businesses and showcase some of the wonderful artisan goodies our community produces. There was a brilliant Santa in his fab , inflatable grotto. My little boy got some quality time with the jolly old fellow, and came away with a gift for a very reasonable £3. Next, he had his face painted and then spent a while on the ‘Winter Wonderland’ bouncy castle for only a couple of quid. All of us, including our husky dogs, joined in the ‘treasure hunt’ round the park and duck pond.
The next day it was Shepton Mallet’s first ever ‘Victorian Street Fayre’. I was blown away by the show-stopping costumes, authentic Victorian kids games like hook-a-duck and a coconut shy, the traditional organ with a monkey, blacksmith and ofcourse the smell of mulled wine and hot roast chestnuts wafting up the packed High Street.
Nick Reader ( pictured with me in the top hat) was the organiser, and I do hope it happens again next year, it was complete success!
We were a bit stressed out later in the week, as it was our beloved our Landrover’s MOT. Goodness knows I wish it wasn’t due in December. Thankfully , the brilliant team at CWS 4x4 in Glastonbury , performed a Christmas miracle. After a day of intensive labour, the lads at Colin White Services restored our old faithful to her former glory, and we came away with an MOT certificate which didn’t cost us a fortune. Got a 4x4 which needs some TLC ? Call them on 01458 834930. I’m glad we did.
I do like to mention local businesses who go above and beyond, so I mustn’t miss out my own husband!
Wayne aka My Big Handyman is off now until the New Year - but he has a great deal for you all in January. Quote JAN18 to get 10% of Painting & Decorating jobs next month. Book your quote at facebook.com/mybighandyman or txt 07403 661577.
Last couple of things to note: the 175 First Travel Bus from Shepton to Wells is stopping on January 12th. And, the ‘What!’ shop in Wells is closing down! It’s so sad, as it was great for a bargain. Get there quick for 25% off everything this week.
Merry Christmas everyone.
This time of year can be so fun and exciting, but for many it can cause extra stress and heartache. It may be money worries, or family disputes bubbling to the surface, missing loved ones who have passed away, or even just a fear of being alone. Please reach out for help if you are feeling low. You could go to your GP or just ring The Samaritans FREE on 116 123. Sometimes it’s silly things which get us flustered.
I had the Royal British Legion Mess dinner to attend, at The Bowlish House Hotel on Saturday. I was really stressed that I couldn’t afford a posh frock. In the very same charity shop where I bought my wedding dress, I eventually found the perfect ball gown for under a tenner! Panic over. Many parents will be feeling the pressure of providing ‘cakes’ and tombola gifts for school Christmas Fayres, as well as the kids Christmas presents.
Have a good hunt through the local charity shops, as you’ll find many brand new gifts , still in original wrapping for just a few quid. Look for things like pretty toiletries in gift sets. You’ll find a lot of crimbo decorations for just a few quid too! I baked ‘easy’ gingerbread biscuits with the kids for their school fayres, and also popped some in glass jars for presents. I always buy supermarket ‘Everyday’ brands to keep costs down. 1.5kg plain flour cost me just 57p and even if i cheated, a pre-made pack of iced fairy cakes is only £1.
We don’t spend a bomb on Christmas dinner either. Grandma always jazzes up basic stuffing mix with chopped apples and sultanas. I buy a large whole turkey or chicken and slap a few bits of streaky bacon over the top! If there are lots of us, we’ll ask guests to each bring a side or a dessert to share. Although it’s very clever, I try not to fall for all the advertising on telly, and certainly try to avoid getting into debt at all costs. My youngest, Harry ( 6) keeps seeing the Nintendo Switch games console advertised on TV. He very sweetly said “ I know you and Daddy can’t afford it, so I’m going to ask Santa instead.” Gulp !
Other ways to save cash include switching energy supplier or asking for a cheaper tariff. If you pay for electric on a key meter, see if you can get a normal meter installed instead,and make sure you claim the warm homes discount if you are eligible.
If you do find yourself in a pickle- with anything from finances, to housing or benefits and universal credit. Please pop along to your local Citizens Advice Centre. They’ve been a God send to our family, and I’m now training to be an advisor! The CAB give specialist, impartial and free advice. There is almost nothing, they can’t help with. However big your problems seem, they can help.
I'm a 43 year old, mum of two little boys- currently living in Shepton Mallet in Somerset. I'm the Founder and Creative Director of Radio Shepton, a Stand up and comedian and spoken word performer, and write a regular column for The Wells and Shepton Mallet Journal. Which is the basis for my blog usually. I lived in Swedish Lapland for 7 years until 2014 where my boys were born. My partner and I ran a husky dog sledding business. Before that I was a poet, radio presenter, media lecturer, writer, TV producer, actress and burlesque performer ! I never want my life to be boring :)