Reading Time: 2 minutes


Did you know that the Christmas Pudding originated as far back as the 14th Century when the ingredients were quite different from how they are today, and was more of a main course containing mutton.

Then as it evolved it became a Christmas dessert and a silver coin, usually an old fashioned six pence was hidden inside.  The ideas was, whoever found it would get good fortune for the following year.  There were no health and safety or allergy restrictions in those days.

So why not bring back some of those old traditions, I don’t mean mutton or a six pence, but perhaps put something unusual but edible inside as a surprise when serving your Christmas feast this year.



  • 150 grams currants
  • 150 grams sultanas
  • 150 grams chopped prunes
  • 175 ml sherry
  • 100 grams plain flour
  • 125 grams fresh breadcrumbs
  • 150 grams suet
  • 150 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 medium cooking apple (peeled and grated)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 125 ml vodka or brandy (to flame the pudding)


  1. Put the currants, sultanas and prunes into a bowl with the sherry, swill the bowl a bit, then cover with clingfilm and leave to soak overnight or for up to 1 week.
  2. When the fruits have had their soaking time, put a large pan of water on to boil, or heat some water in a conventional steamer, and butter your heatproof plastic pudding basin, remember to grease the lid, too.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the remaining pudding ingredients (except the vodka/brandy),
  4. Add the booze soaked fruits, scraping in every last drop of liquor with a spatula, and mix to combine thoroughly, then add the all important 'sixpence'.
  5. Scrape and press the mixture into the prepared pudding basin, squish it down and put on the lid. Then wrap with a layer of foil so that the basin is watertight, then either put the basin in the pan of boiling water (halfway up the basin) or in the top of a lidded steamer and steam for 5 hours, checking every now and again that the water hasn’t bubbled away.
  6. When it’s had its 5 hours, remove carefully and, when cooled slightly, unwrap the foil, and put the pudding in its basin out of the way in the kitche, until Christmas Day.
  7. On the big day, rewrap the pudding (still in its basin) in foil and steam again, this time for 3 hours.
  8. then transfer to a plate, add the booze and light it !
  9. serve with clotted cream, custard or just as is.



Reading Time: 5 minutes


We had the time of our lives on Saturday 1 December 2018 as we launched The Silver Screen Ball at Pinewood Studios, the legendary and iconic venue, famous for 80 years of stardom and movie magic.

Dee Anderson

This will be the first of many, due to the success of the event and the feedback we have received from our guests ‘

I just want to say thanks for all your help, I had a great time last night. I got the chance to talk to Thomas Sangster. It was the best day of my life. Thank you so much.  If this event is going on next year, I’d definitely want to be there again. International guest at the event.

I just wanted to thank you both so much. I had the best time and I was so glad to be a part of your wonderful evening. Victoria Jarnefelt, Hassium

Stephen Dixon & Liz Kershaw (Sky News)

On behalf of all my guests, I would just like to say what a wonderful event and a massive thanks to all in making it such a success. The switch to the evening was a hit with us and we love the venue. A great time was had by all and for me kicked off the Christmas season superbly. Mike Mills, Castelli UK

What an amazing night! Our table had a ball in a lovely setting for a good cause so a big well done to you, Dee and all those involved in organising the event. Our friend, Mike, who ‘won’ Parker already has him on display in his shopfront. Ranjiv Bhalla, Veenus

Thanks for a fab evening and the photos. We had a laugh especially with the dancing. It was lovely to meet you and chat. Phil Howell, Turmerlicious

Cass Lewis (Skunk Anansie)

We all had a wonderful evening, so thank you for all the hard work done to make it a success. Chris Keeble, Pharma Medico

What can we say, it was the most amazing evening, we cannot remember the last time we enjoyed such an evening, it was perfect in every way, we met so many lovely people. You have all worked so hard and it paid off, WELL DONE. Judith Burrows, Jackloc

Christian Vit (Game of Thrones, Holby City)

Thank you for all of your wonderful organisation – it was a stunning and truly memorable event – Mike Parker, Dating Options

I just wanted to send a personal thanks to you all for your support again this year and for putting such hard work into organising a fantastic ball on Saturday evening. I had a really great time and I hope the guests enjoyed hearing about how their generous donations make a difference to GOSH and the hospital’s projects. Jonathan Tebble, GOSH

Maureen Lipman (Coronation Street)

We had a huge line up of celebrities too, from Maureen Lipman, Anthea Turner, Debbie Arnold, Christian Vit, Thomas Brodie Sangster, Cass Lewis, Liz Kershaw and Stephen Dixon to name but a few.

Thomas Brodie-Sansger (Games of Thrones, Maze Runner) with his sister & mum

Our celebrity singer Jack Montgomery entertained us throughout the evening, and we all danced the night away into the early hours.

Anthea Turner

Many tables have already been booked for 7 December 2019 when we will host our second Silver Screen Ball, again at the legendary Pinewood Studios. Contact us for details.

see here for more photos from the event

France’s Best Christmas Markets as recommended by Grape Escapes

France’s Best Christmas Markets as recommended by Grape Escapes

Reading Time: 6 minutes


With the holiday season in full swing, it’s tempting to huddle up on the sofa with a warming glass of mulled wine and a good film, and simply watch the world pass by outside your frosted windows. But stop! Don’t do that… there’s so much beauty in the world at this time of year, and one thing everyone should experience at least once at Christmas time is a French Christmas Market! With so many to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to head to for the best, most bedazzling festive experience… so it’s lucky I’ve taken the time to review five of my favourites for you…


The oldest and most historic of Christmas markets, Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärik dates back to the 16th Century and has thousands of people flocking to the ‘home of Christmas’ each year! This spectacular market features over 300 small wooden chalets, offering local products and delicacies. You’ll be able to nibble on gingerbread and sip hot mulled wine, whilst wandering around the various squares of Strasbourg discovering what made this market ‘Europe’s Best Christmas Market’ in 2014 as voted by Europe Best Vacation. Each year, a different guest country is welcomed to promote their goods, making the market a true multi-cultural delight.


Discover the magical winter wonderland of Bordeaux, where 150 illuminated log cabin stalls line the Allées du Tourny – the perfect spot to while away the hours whilst picking up a few original gifts for your loved ones. Particular treasures you’ll find here include artisan perfumes, bottles of local wine and Landes foie gras. Father Christmas can be found in his grotto for children to visit, and the market also offers free sleigh rides – an enchanting experience!



Avignon in December is a great place to be if you are looking to discover Provencal Christmas traditions! As well as the usual market stalls lining the streets, overflowing with wooden toys, gastronomic specialities, artisan crafts and jewellery, this lively Christmas market dedicates space for traditional Provence performers to dance, act and sing transforming Avignon into a sparkly performance arena! You will be welcomed to attend a local midnight mass or nativity celebration on Christmas Eve in the city, which is a lovely way to experience Christmas the way the locals do.


A second Alsatian offering, which is only fitting when you consider that Alsace is the birthplace of the Christmas tree! In a pretty, fairy-tale setting, the fully pedestrianised streets of Colmar lend themselves perfectly to a typical festive market. The quaint illuminated town welcomes tourists to explore their five different market areas including a Children’s market in Little Venice (look out for the children’s choirs singing carols on brightly lit boats on the canals!), the markets of the Place de l’Ancienne Douane, and Alsatian gastronomic delights at the food markets at Place Jeanne d’Arc. A Christmas ice skating rink at Place Rapp finishes off this spectacular market, where you can enjoy the childlike joy experienced from skating in such a dream-like setting!



Reims is said to be where the first French Christmas celebrations took place in 496BC when King Clovis and his 3000 warriors were baptised on Christmas Day! Reims’ Christmas market involves over 125 fairy-lit chalets, offering Christmas gifts and local produce. Street entertainers such as carol singers and magicians entertain the crowds, and there is a grotto where children can meet Father Christmas. Look out for Biscuits Rose de Reims – ‘pink biscuits’, traditionally dipped into Champagne – the distinctive feature of these biscuits is they don’t break even when wet. They’ll be the perfect accompaniment for your Champagne on Christmas day. It would also be a crime not to visit some of the esteemed Champagne Houses whilst in the region, as well as exploring the smaller producers, where you are able to purchase a bottle of Grand Cru Champagne for as little as €15 a bottle – the perfect opportunity to stock up for the festivities!

Grape Escapes is a specialist wine tour operator offering a broad selection of holidays and trips to the premium European wine regions. Contact the team for more information about wine tour holidays via their website, on +44 (0) 1920 468666 or email




Why Traditional Matchmaking Has Never Fallen Out of Fashion at The County Register

Why Traditional Matchmaking Has Never Fallen Out of Fashion at The County Register

Reading Time: 4 minutes


Due to the current backlash against online dating, traditional matchmaking is enjoying a renaissance.   The demand for a more refined, respectful way to date has created a new generation of Professional Matchmakers, many chasing fame and fortune; vying to be the next ‘Millionaire Matchmaker’.  However, with almost thirty-five years in the business, matchmaker Heather Heber-Percy possesses the kind of wisdom and understanding that can only be acquired through time.

Heather credits a brain-storming session at the school gates – back in the ‘80s with fellow mum, Geraldine Turner – for kickstarting her career in dating.  At first, Geraldine and Heather tasked themselves with finding dates for lonesome farmers, using Heather’s home as their H.Q.  The two became a formidable duo who still work together today at Heather’s exclusive agency, The County Register.  In recent years, Heather’s daughter Zara has also become a highly respected matchmaker, under the tutelage of her mother.

We wanted to find out a little more about what it takes to achieve such longevity within a competitive and emotive market-place…

Meeting Heather, it’s clear to see that this is a woman driven by empathy… and a work ethic that is second to none.  Much of The County Register’s success is down to the close and authentic bonds Heather, Geraldine and Zara build with their clients – “We aim to provide a truly personal service.” Heather explains, “We never offer a membership to anyone we don’t feel we are the right ‘fit’ for.”

Heather’s clients trust that when she recommends a potential new life partner, that person is worthy of both time and effort.  Traditional dating was never a ‘numbers’ game and the County Register doesn’t play it as such.  For Heather, Geraldine and Zara, matchmaking is about the finer details, resulting in quality introductions.

“Being a matchmaker can be incredibly fulfilling – ultimately you’re helping people to find love and what’s more important in life than love?” Zara asks – “What I find rewarding about my job is that it rests on my ability to really get to know my clients – I have to understand who they are on a much deeper level than the persona they present to the world; what really motivates them in life, what their true values are as well as their dreams and aspirations.  Sometimes being a matchmaker is also about challenging my clients, breaking down preconceived ideas about the sort of person they want to meet – that ‘type’ may be where they’ve gone wrong in the past and they need to open themselves up to new possibilities.  What I also love about my job is that chemistry is unpredictable, all we’re doing is increasing people’s chances of meeting the right person by getting them out there again, but the rest is down to that inexplicable mysterious process that happens between two people when they click – it’s alchemical and thankfully, indefinable.”

To contact The County Register, please call 020 8994 3500




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