Good morning! Before I chat about Slogmas I’d really quickly like to ask you if you could take a few minutes to fill in my reader survey – it would mean the world to me! I’ve never asked you guys to fill in anything like this before and it would really help me to know what is and isn’t working on this blog. Thank you!
Ok, so back on the 30th November, I was house-sitting in Oxford and seeing a lot of people posting about the start of Blogmas. “Hey, why not”, I thought to myself. “I could use a challenge.” I decided to post a piece of content everyday: somedays a song, but most days a blog. I had planned to do a video but NO WAY I GOT TIME FOR THAT. I’m sure blogging seems like a very low level activity to a lot of you and you’re probably wondering why a daily post should seem like a slog. I don’t know much about the blog-writing habits of others, but for me, most posts take a few hours minimum.
So to embark on an entire month of daily posts with nothing scheduled or planned in advance, during a month where I was also undertaking a number of big personal and work projects, was pretty foolish. I like the idea of Blogmas (or Slogmas), as being a way to thank your readers. It gives me so much joy to know somebody out there reads the little ideas I throw out into the world.
Well, it certainly was a slog. There were a few days in the middle where I thought “this is ridiculous”, and yet I kept on; childishly, stubbornly. There are two BRILLIANT reasons for missing Day 19 and Day 22; the best date of my life and one of the most important dinners I’ve had this year, so I hope you won’t resent me too much for missing those days.
I think the post I spent the longest time on was either Day 3, which I poured my heart into, or Day 31 simply due to scrolling through the archives and choosing which photos to use. I think either Day 3, Day 24 or Day 27 were my most honest, and Day 17 was by far the most personal. I don’t think I’ve ever hesitated pressing “Publish” before so that was a first for this blog!
Thank you so much for enduring, and hopefully enjoying Slogmas along with me! If you read along or had a favourite post then let me know. :)
Merry Christmas to you all!! I hope you’re not fed up of these “Christmas In….” posts yet. This is the last one and the longest one! I’ve had a crazy few festive weeks running around London. It’s such a beautiful city this time of year. I’ve been here my whole life and though in many years I get tired by the constant crowds, it is hard not to enjoy the pretty twinkling lights everywhere and festive wreaths adorning everything.
I’m a big fan of roast chestnuts and mulled wine so the pop-up street vendors are a personal favourite of mine! These photos are from a variety of places; I don’t always take my camera out but I’ve managed to snap a few bits and pieces from Spitalfields, Selfridges, Hackney, Oxford Street, Leicester Square, Picadilly and Regents Street on my travels. I hope for any of you readers who have never been to London at Christmas this provides something of an idea!
Leadenhall Market is a beautiful 14th century covered market in the City of London. The distictinve red, cream, gold and green decor was designed all the way back in 1881. Though the colour scheme is the same all year round, it’s one of my favourite places to visit at Christmas because it lends itself so well to the festive colour scheme! I’ve been coming since I was 16 and I haven’t tired of it yet. The market is quite small and tucked away in the middle of the City, so it’s the kind of place that often gets held up as a “hidden gem” – these days it’s not so much of a fruit and veg market as it is a row of luxury shops and eateries.
I dragged along with me my most recent companion of choice; with him being a Harry Potter fan I was so excited to tell him that the market was the location for the Diagon Alley scenes in the first two films. Production moved to Borough Market after that but it’s still a must-see for any fan. Although to be honest, I’m not a massive fan and the giant Christmas tree, mulled wine sellers and gorgeous fairy lights make it such a perfect place to go anyway!
I am very fond of Kingston-Upon-Thames. It’s essentially where I grew up, so I have memories from my earliest years of wandering around the Bentalls Centre (essentially a shopping mall) listening to the animatronic bears singing christmas music, to me during school years spending pocket money on absolute crap to give my friends, to me in recent years doing a speedy dash around on Christmas Eve with James.
This year Kingston at Christmas has a pop-up vintage market in the town hall which is a nice addition to the (in no way) German Christmas Market outside. I’ve been a few times running errands with new companions, it’s always lovely to re-discover somewhere you know very well through somebody else’s perspective.
Here’s a few snaps from my recent trip to Oxford! Christmastime is one of my favourite seasons to visit new places. I feel like people try harder to be friendly, everything is decorated to look a bit nicer and you appreciate a warm and friendly shop or cafe that bit more. It’s no wonder most of my travelling happens during the colder months!
I have to say, the Oxford buildings remind me a little of the Cotswolds; fat yellow bricks and purple slate roofs, with windy cobbled streets running between everything. It’s all very “quaint British” to my eyes which a lot of people consider people to be a hallmark of this country. It’s funny, a huge portion of my American family are obsessed with the UK’s streets and buildings: I’m hardly the biggest fan in the world and yet I’m the one surrounded by it!
These photos were taken in a few different areas; some in various shops around Oxford, the covered market and of course a couple of the beautiful buildings. It was really magical to be able to see the Christmas lights and festive displays in the shops. Even without decorations the old buildings with their decorative lattice work looked pretty special anyway!
I know that “spring clean” is the phrase that has entered the lexicon, but really Christmas is the time of cleaning. Unearthing boxes of clothes for the silver sequinned skirt you KNOW you own, dusting off the top shelf before place a fake snow blanket over it, replacing batteries in fairy lights which have hung unlit on your wall for the last 4 months because tis the season to be sparkly.
This week has been CRAZY busy so far. I’m grateful for all the good things that are happening: new dates, bandmates, late-night takeaways, ticket e-mails and the presence of twinkly lights everywhere. But I’m also SO ready for next week and the start of the holidays. COME ON DECEMBER!!
If I was a full-time blogger I would have photographed my record player covered in tinsel (it’s red and white anyway), but I’m not, so you’ll have to trust me. This is kind of a weird title for a blog post but hear me out! We’re all very familiar with Christmas music as it’s been blaring out of most shops since August, but there are some absolutely cracking tunes out there that don’t get enough airplay and I’d like to introduce them to you.
Seeing as my job for about 3 months has been curating the best Christmas songs for this event I thought I’d share some of the underrated festive (and suggestive) hits. I’ve also made a playlist featuring these songs as well as youtube links for individual songs in this post, so if you have Spotify you can listen and save along. So here we go with the top bangers for banging! (Sorry)
The Man With The Bag – Jane Monheit
This isn’t the original version, but it’s certainly my favourite. Jane has quite a soft voice and her cool delivery on a relatively fussy tune makes for a song full of anticipation. Perfect for a cheeky party peck.
The Christmas Song – Chicago
Lay those funk grooves down, boys!! This is such an overproduced arrangement of this song but I LOVE it! It’s so different from the original and there are some banging horn lines on this track. A good one for all those festive lounge parties you’ll be hosting in your penthouse flat. (?)
Back Door Santa – Clarence Carter
I don’t know if it’s the overly suggestive lyrics (“I ain’t like the Old Saint Nick… he don’t come but once a year”), the sleazy horns, the fat funk guitar in the background or the honky-tonk keyboard… but this song is SO hot. It’s just an absolute banger of a song. I’ll actually be singing this on Sunday (for Quizmas) in full bed voice, so wish me luck with those frustrated growl sounds! *gulp*
I’ll Be Home For Christmas – The Carpenters
It basically invites you under the mistletoe, it’s that sweet and coy. Believe me, as somebody who has studied Disney music to academic level over the last 7 years, the production on this value of the popular festive ballad is PURE 50s Disney. The choir, the high winds and strings, the percussion. It sounds like it’s from a vintage Disney Christmas film that never got made. Add in Karen’s super-sultry voice and it’s a Christmas winner.
This Christmas – Donny Hathaway
I love this song. Donny has the best voice ever, or at least one of the sexiest voices ever. It’s so warm! His voice is like a brandy for the soul: add in how desperately he wants to have a good christmas with you and his talk of “carolling” through the night and it’s just a deeply sensual christmas tune. Cracking horn line too. This is another one I’ve been learning for Sunday so let’s REALLY cross our fingers I can channel my inner goddess for the whole set!
Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Pearl Bailey & Hot Lips Page
Before you skip over this really overplayed/over-covered song, give this 1949 recording a go. It is HILARIOUS, I absolutely love it. There’s just so much character and atmosphere in the song! The ad-libs from both performers are hilarious, and Pearl is just such a sassy broad (there’s no other word for it) that it really makes the song. There are several times they almost miss the cue to sing because of the crazy improv over the top. I think my favourite bit is right at the end where she says “I don’t got no fur coat or nothing, I really can’t”, and then about 10 seconds later “I’ll tell her to go about her business” with a clear smirk. Brilliant.
Ole Santa – Dinah Washington
Dinah can’t help but sound sultry, and though this song is ostensibly about waiting for Santa to arrive, it doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to imagine Dinah, dressed in feathered gown, sat at the dressing table and gazing longingly out of the window waiting for her guy to arrive.
Let’s Make Christmas Merry Baby – Amos Milburn
The gentle piano suggest a late-night home alone, the slightly fuzzy production suggest a couple of egg-nogs, and the lyrics suggest… well, what don’t they suggest? He wants to slide our chimney and fill our stockings full of toys! Oh Amos. There’s even a sultry sax solo. It’s all very, very mistletoe.
Dear Mrs Claus – The Barr Brothers
What girl doesn’t want to be wooed at Christmas time? Promises of gifts, holding our hands and distracting the elves for the night, it’s all very sweet and coy. 6/8 is by far the sexiest time signature and the innocent vocal delivery coupled with the humming harmonies in the back, leading into a well-placed guitar solo make this perfect mistletoe fodder. Probably in front of a log fire. Maybe even in matching Christmas pjs. Adultery never seemed so sweet.
I’d Like You For Christmas – Julie London
Julie London has such a soft and sultry voice anyway that she could probably sing the phonebook and it would sound perfect under the mistletoe. But this sweet ballad has some well placed syncopated backing vocals (god knows I love a thought-out backing vocal) and coupled with the high melodies it’s all very intimate and delicate. More of a prolonged smooch than a quick peck under the mistletoe.
Trim Your Tree – Jimmy Butler
This is so, so, so deeply unromantic. But it’s just so hilarious I had to include it in case you hadn’t heard it. The lyrics are ridiculous, the musicians sound like they’re having a ball – the keys player is loving it – and Jimmy is just absolutely going for it on the vocals. Have a sleazy Christmas!
So there you go. A very brief guide to some of my favourite christmas tunes! I haven’t done many music-based posts but this could have been a LOT longer, so let me know if you’d like to hear more.
This is a song I wrote in the summer. Like most of my songs, it’s about a situation I didn’t understand which I mentioned in passing at the time. There was a lot going on. I wrote the lyrics when I was still optimistic about the situation, but I wrote the music later when I knew where I stood.
I thought about typing the full lyrics out into this blog post but I think it’s better to just listen and interpret them yourself. Thank you if you do listen and please let me know what you think!