Nuremberg Christmas Market

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After Thanksgiving, the bloke and I jetted off to Germany to spend a few days visiting Nuremberg and its famous Christmas market (Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt). We arrived on Friday evening, the opening day of the Christmas market. We headed into the city's main square (Hauptmarkt) after dropping off our luggage at the hotel. As it was the opening day, the market was exceptionally busy.

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On the way to the main square, we walked through Ludwig Platz where we saw a living nativity with donkeys, goats, an alpaca, and a camel. The Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus were not living, of course. We saw the animals here almost every day that we walked past the nativity, though they do take them away at night.

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The Christmas Market in Nuremberg consists of the main market, a children's market, and a sister city market. The sister city market is based on Nuremberg's twinned (sister) cities, and each has its own market stall that specialises in its country's products off of the main square. For example, shortbread and whisky were available to buy in the Glasgow stall. American sweets were available from the Atlanta, Georgia stall.

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The Christmas market is huge, and it took us about half of a day to go through it and see everything. We did visit it a few times over the few days that we were there, but we had a proper look around all of the stalls on one of the weekday mornings when the market was quieter.

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The market gets incredibly busy as the day goes on, and dusk is the busiest time to visit the market. At times, such as the weekend and the opening night, it was too busy to browse. I do not enjoy browsing busy places as it is impossible to have a proper look.

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The fountain in the Hauptmarkt is called Schöner Brunnen, and during the Christmas market, all but one side is surrounded by stalls. A gold ring is located on the railing of the fountain, and turning this three times will make wishes come true. The fountain was always surrounded by tour groups during our visits to the market.

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Upon entering the square, visitors will see a large gold tinsel angel. This is one of the symbols of Nuremberg. The golden tinsel angel is made of thin metal and is made to be a tree topper. It is a symbol of the Christkind, translated Christ Child. The Christ Child is a Nuremberg tradition. She is a giver of gifts and became a tradition for the market in the early 1930s.

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Every year, young women between the ages of 16 and 19 can enter the competition to be the Christmas Market's symbol, Christkind. In this tradition, they open the Christmas Market each year with a speech and also visit the market nearly every afternoon. The ChristKind is popular with children, and every child and some adults wanted their photograph taken with her.

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Another area of the square, in front of the Church of Our Lady, is sectioned off and contains the antique nativity scene.

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One of the most popular items for sale are Christmas ornaments and Christmas craft items. Some of these are so beautiful but also so fragile as they are made of delicate glass. I loved looking at them, but I am put off buying them because I am afraid that they would not make the journey back in one piece, and if they did, I would be worried that they would break in storage or fall off the Christmas tree.

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One tradition is the pickle tree ornament. Each year, the pickle is hidden on the tree. When the child discovers it, he/she will receive a special prize. The size of the pickle varies. For younger children, the pickle is larger so that it is easier for them to find. As the children get older, the pickle becomes smaller and more difficult to find.

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The market stalls were covered in ornaments. It was impossible to see all of them. There were so many that I loved.

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In addition to the traditional glass ornaments, visitors could buy ornaments that were cookies baked and then painted into Christmas designs. I remember making these types of ornaments when I was younger. 

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Food is also popular at the Christmas market. Sausages, candy apples, chocolate, gingerbread, and Christmas cake were all popular. Nuremberg is most known for its special Nuremberg sausage and gingerbread. I had some gingerbread, and it was nice, but it was not the type of gingerbread that I am familiar with. A mulled wine drink is also popular, and this goes well with the gingerbread. Gingerbread, known as lebkuchen, dates from medieval times.

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One of the most interesting stalls sold chocolate items that were shaped like tools and other everyday items. At first, I thought that these were antique items because they did look real. However, all items were made from chocolate with a dusting of cocao powder to make them look 'worn' and slightly rusty. Scissors, wrenches, faucets, bottle caps, horseshoes, clothes pegs, cameras, locks, keys, and scissors were some of the items. 

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I also had a wander to the Christmas Children's Market, which was extremely popular with school groups of children. A small ferris wheel, carousel, and other games and crafts were available for the children. Children could make their own candles or ice and decorate their own gingerbread. Between the two markets is also a nativity trail with some nativity scenes. A large model train set with a few running trains was also at the far end of the Children's Christmas Market. Each of the market stalls in the Children's Christmas Market had a decoration on top of it. These varied from a family of bears making treats, a family sitting in a Christmas room, snowmen, Santa and reindeer, and a group of bakers.

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Snowglobes were a popular item in the Christmas markets.

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A couple of stalls also sold a large range of dollhouse items.

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The best architectual structure (and oldest) was Frauenkirche, Church of Our Lady. Visitors could listen to church services here, and they had special advent services. Visitors could also climb up part of the way to the balcony to have an elevated view of the Christmas market, and this is the balcony that the Christkind stands on for the opening ceremony of the Christmas Market every year. At noon each day, the clock on Frauenkirche moves and little figures move around the clockface.

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I took a few photographs from the balcony of Frauenkirche. The market was not the busiest at this time but the crowds were growing.

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Another traditional item to buy at the Nuremberg Christmas Market at the prune men (Zwetschgenmännle). These little men and women are made from prunes and have a walnut head. A few stalls around the Christmas Market were selling these novelty items.

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There are many different designs for the prune men, and a few of my photographs are below. They are said to bring happiness and luck.

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Springerle is another Nuremberg traditional food. It is an embossed white biscuit design, and it is translated to "little knights". This cookie is from Renaissance times, and it is made with egg white and anise. Some of the deisgns have been coloured, otherwise they are simply embossed. I did try these, and they are a wafer-like biscuit with a slight anise taste. A few of the different designs can be seen below.

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Nutcrackers were amongst the popular Christmas crafts.

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Around the Christmas area (though not inside the actual market square itself) and main streets were a couple of different buskers dressed as Santa with small, cute dogs. 

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Last but not least, a twenty-minute dash around the Christmas Market and streets of Nuremberg is possible in the German post (Deutsche Post) stagecoach. The men driving the horse would blow a horn to signal the approach of the carriage as we were taken around the market, and everyone would stop to look. I felt like a celebrity for those twenty minutes.

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Also, if you love postcards and stamps like I do, do not forget to visit the special Christmas market stall for German Post. This is located across the road from the fountain. Tickets for the stagecoach rides mentioned above can be purchased here as well as stamps and postcards. Even if you have written your postcards, stamped or not, you can take your postcards here to receive one of two special Nuremberg German postmark stamps. I went back to this stall several times to receive the special postmarks.

Last but not least, I have put together a list of tips for visiting the Nuremberg Christmas Market. The list below mentions good points and what to avoid.

Tips for Nuremberg Christmas Market:

  • Some of the stallholders are dishonest and rude. I gave money for a glass of mulled punch across from the horse stagecoaches, and the stallholder tried to deny I had given her money even after I kept insisting, and she and her boss were extremely rude to me. I eventually got my money, but I had to make a scene by arguing. Make sure that the stallholder has your full and undivided attention throughout the transaction and force them to make eye contact with you.
  • Prices vary greatly for the same item and change as the market gets busier. Again, some of the stallholders are dishonest and will charge more. Look around first and note the price. If the price is not on display, ask and then continue to look for the best price. Prices can vary greatly fort he exact same item. Also, as I did visit the market several times, I noticed that the stalls changed their prices during busier times. I saw one stall sell one particular item for 2.50, and this price was raised to 3.50 as the day progressed and market got busier.
  • Watch your money and possessions as there are pickpockets. I did not have any trouble, but this was advice given to me.
  • Visit in the morning when it's quiet. The evenings and dusk gets extremely busy, and it's not possible to browse when it's too busy. The market opens at 10:00am, but some stalls open a little later, and the market is relatively quiet then.  
  • Try new things. Sausage, mulled wine, and gingerbread are a few items to try.
  • Get a map of the Christmas Market. A map of all stalls in the main Christmas Market, the Children's Christmas Market, and the International Christmas Market is available in the Tourist Information building on the market square. This is located near the church.
  • Look for prune men. The map available from the Tourist Information centre includes locations of the stalls for the prune men separately. 
  • Get your special stamps and postmarks. For those sending postcards, visit this stall opposite the fountain and receive a special postmark. Postcards and stamps can also be purchased here.
  • See Christkind. She makes an appearance daily at approximately 3:00 in the afternoon on most days. The brochure in the Tourist Information can provide more information as the timing and availability is subject to change.
  • Have fun!

London's Christmas Window Displays for 2014

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Every year, I enjoy browsing the various Christmas window displays around London. I have only included a selection of window displays from the larger department stores: Harrods, Selfridges, Hamley's, John Lewis, and this year I even stopped at Choccywoccydoodah to view their Christmas chocolate display. 

Harrods department store is the probably the most famous and one that springs to mind for those who do not live in London. Their window displays are always fascinating, and their windows had various Christmas themes featuring woodlands. One popular window featured a carousel with unicorns. The most popular window was one featuring Santa in his sleigh with a team of reindeer. This window was extremely popular with children and adults, so it was impossible to get a good photograph of it without someone in the picture and window reflections of people. Check it out if you're in the Knightsbridge area.

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Harrods

Selfridges department store on Oxford Street is always one of my favourites to visit. This year, they had a variety of Christmas themes. In one, mannequins modelled lingere and dresses with white paper wolves in a woodland scene. Another showed a golden goose with eggs surrounded by food and wine. Another was a gingerbread house. The largest window on the corner featured jars of marmalade, a golden Hackney cab, and a Paddington statue from the Paddington Trail, which I will be posting photographs of later this month. The Paddington film is out, and Selfridges has a shop dedicated to the bear.

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Selfridges

I had a quick browse at the windows at Hamleys toy store on Regent Street, which is always busy and gathers crowds outside. One of the windows was decorated to look like the interior of a house decorated for Christmas with several stuffed toys and a Santa inside. Hamleys is always popular.

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Hamleys

John Lewis, who had a popular Christmas advertisement last year with their touching 'Hare and Bear' commercial featuring the song 'Somewhere Only We Know' by Lily Allen (originally by Keane), had a similar response to their Christmas advertisement this year. This year, the commercial featured a little boy and his penguin friend, Monty. The 'Monty the Penguin' commerical was highly anticipated, and after it was broadcast in November, it gave everyone the opportunity to start to think about the holidays. Tom Odell sang 'Real Love', a song that John Lennon had written in the 1970s, and this song is still in the charts. Consequentally, the shop windows of John Lewis feature cute penguins amongst the merchandise. The photographs taken below are of the Peter Jones shop in Sloane Square. The John Lewis on Oxford Street has the same displays.

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Peter Jones / John Lewis

John Lewis' 2013 'Hare and Bear'

John Lewis' 2014 'Monty the Penguin'

Choccywoccydoodah is a chocolate shop. It has a shop in Brighton and one in London; the London shop is located off Carnaby Street. The popular chocolate shop also has its own reality television show. The shop always features wonderful chocolate creations, such as the Christmas creations below.

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Choccywoccydoodah

I hope that everyone is managing to have a nice holiday season. So far, it has been extremely busy for me and I have struggled to fit in everything that I would like to do before the big day. 

Below are window displays from the past years:

2011 Selfridges

2012 London Christmas lights and window displays

2013 London Christmas window displays

After enjoying our time in the Magical Ice Kingdom at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland this year (read about it here), we headed over to the Bar Ice, where I had a reservation. I think Bar Ice is the same company who run ICE BAR off of Regent's Street, which I went to a couple of summers ago (Nights Out: London ICE BAR). The reservation is for fourty minutes to spend enjoying (and freezing at) the bar. Bar Ice uses the same building as the Magical Ice Kingdom, but I think Bar Ice may have been a little colder.

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Visitors are given jackets and gloves before they head into Bar Ice. This keeps us a little bit warm, and you do need the gloves as the free cocktail comes in a glass made completely from ice.

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The room's walls, tables, seats, and the bar are made completely out of ice. There are a couple of ice sculptures in the room, such as detailing around the wall. This was not as impressive as the ICE BAR off Regent's Street, particularly as we had just come from seeing the Magical Ice Kingdom with its beautiful ice sculptures. We were a little spoiled.

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The cocktails (alcholic and non-alcoholic) had a festive winter theme. I opted for "Cinnamon Sparkler", which contained Eristoff, Goldschlager (cinnamon schnapps with gold flakes), Cosmopolitan mixer, cranberries, limes, and orange. I liked it.

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My partner had either the "Berry Blizzard" or "Jack Frost", but I cannot remember which one. Both of these contained strawberry. His came with a Twizzler straw. 

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Unlike ICE BAR, the ice benches did not have matts to sit on, and I was wearing my dress. I was not about to sit directly onto an ice cold ice bench and freeze. 

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We did not stay long at Bar Ice as my partner was feeling cold. I could have stayed longer and had another festive cocktail, but we decided to leave to beat the rush hour. We also needed to pack and get everything ready for going away on holiday to Germany the next day.

This year, I finally managed to book the "Magical Ice Kingdom" at Winter Wonderland. I tried the previous two years, but all of the spaces were taken as I had tried to arrange it too late. This year I arranged it early and decided that this would be something that we could do on Thanksgiving after our Thanksgiving lunch (Thanksgiving at Christopher's Bar and Grill), so we made our way across to Winter Wonderland for our time slot. The tickets were also discounted as Winter Wonderland had only been open for a couple of days and this first week is not as busy as the holiday season progresses.

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This year's theme for the Magical Ice Kingdom was King Arthur's Kingdom. We walked around the trail and admired the woodland creatures (wolves, owls, squirrels, bears) made out of ice and large columns or stalagmites of ice rising from the floor. Pine trees seculded each area so that we could be surprised before we approached the next sculptures.

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As we walked further along, we came upon the sword in the stone (or ice), a wizard (Merlin), a Celtic cross, and a large ice knight standing guard. The first larger sculpture that we came across was two jousting knights on horseback. Most of the ice used was clear, but the knights and their horses were snowy white.

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After seeing the knights, we walked a few more steps to discover a fairy and a tree with a face. Merlin (pictured in one of the photographs above) was in this setting.

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We walked further around, and we came to the castle with sculptures and a throne room. A photographer was taking photographs of the visitors who wanted to sit down in the thrones. Many people did do this, and they could purchae their photograph at the exit.

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The lighting ranged from violet to blue in the throne room. Behind the throne room, visitors could walk up to go onto the slide. I decided to do this, wearing a cotton dress, which was not clever because obviously my legs stuck to the slide and the slide was extremely cold. This would have worked if that had provided a matt to give us to slide down on. (Wearing jeans would have worked as the material is stronger.)

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After the slide fiasco, I continued to walk the trail. The next stop was a frozen fountain that people had thrown coins into.

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This was followed by a sculpture of the Lady of the Lake holding King Arthur's sword while standing in the lake with two unicorns on the embankment. I thought that this one with the water was cleverly-created.

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Further along the trail was the largest sculpture featuring soldiers and an archer in ice chain mail attacking a large snowy white ice dragon with glowing yellow eyes. This was impressive.

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A little further along was a bar made out of ice barrels. Alcoholic of hot drinks could be purchased here. I was not able to get photographs because a large group turned up just afterwards and decided to buy some drinks and hang around the bar, but this looked awesome.

The final sculpture was a round table made of ice with a sword and chalice in the middle of the ice table. This was situated inside a stone (ice) circle of ice boulders.

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I did not particularly want to leave, but we were getting a little cold by then as the temperature in the Magical Ice Kingdom was around -10 degrees Celsius so that the sculptures would not melt. When we did leave to go back outside, the outside weather felt almost tropical, and the outside weather was chilly before we entered the Magical Ice Kingdom.

I also had booked Bar Ice, Winter Wonderland's very own Ice Bar. The Ice Bar is new to Winter Wonderland this year, and it is actually a part of the same building as the Magical Ice Kingdom. We had to wait about an hour before our time slot came up, so we wandered around Winter Wonderland. Ice Bar London has a permanent location off Regent Street that changes its theme every few months, and I went the summer before last with friends and covered this in Nights Out: ICE BAR. My next post will feature my experience at Bar Ice Winter Wonderland.

London Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland 2014

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Every Christmas, the area of Hyde Park near Hyde Park Corner tube station is transformed into Winter Wonderland. This tripled in size three years ago to contain new areas, such as a Magical Ice Kingdom and more games and food stalls. Each year, it gets busier and more popular, and I did not go at all last year because I was put off from the crowds the year previously. This year, I decided to go back because it was a few days after the opening of Winter Wonderland for the year and I expected it to be quiet and not popular with crowds of people. I actually went on Thanksgiving, after visiting Christopher's Grill in Covent Garden (Thanksgiving at Christopher's Restaurant in London).

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When arriving at Winter Wonderland from Hyde Park Corner tube station, the first area that one passes through is the Christmas Market. 

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The usual rides are at Winter Wonderland along with new ones, and the ice skating is also available. There are plenty of games and rides to enjoy, and this year there is the Magical Ice Kingdom (featuring ice sculptures) and a special winter/Christmas edition of Ice Bar.

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Food and drink, such as mulled wine, can also be enjoyed.

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These are all available in wooden chalets.

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There are also plenty of photo opportunities with animal sculptures, but there are not quite as many as previous years when people could pose with snowmen and penquins.

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As usual, Winter Wonderland will be popular again this year. To avoid crowds, try to get there early or go during the week. Saturday and Sunday during the day are extremely busy. Transport for London also encourages visitors in peak times to use an alternative tube station as Hyde Park Corner gets congested. Knightsbridge is a short walk away as is Marble Arch.

Cereal Killer Cafe Opens on Brick Lane

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Today is the opening day of Cereal Killer Cafe (http://cerealkillercafe.co.uk/), a cafe on Brick Lane (closest tube is overground's Shoreditch High Street) that sells primarily cereal, but other breakfast foods and drinks can also be purchased. The Cereal Killer Cafe is the first of its kind in the UK, and over 100 different types of cereal are on offer. There is a large selection of American cereals, including favourites such as Lucky Charms, Cap'n Crunch, Honeycomb, Fruity Pebbles, Cocao Puffs, Cherrios, Wheaties, Life, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I did ask after one of my all-time favourites, French Toast Crunch, which has recently come back onto the market, but they did not have it but promised to get some in. (Apologies for the poor photos. I can't believe I forgot my camera!)

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Cereal used to be one of my staple foods and I snacked on cereal regularly when I was growing up and well into my university days. When I moved to the UK, my favourite cereals could not be purchased (this was before shops started to carry American products, but these products can be found a little easier now), so I had to give up the snacking habit. 

The Cereal Killer Cafe is set over two floors, with additional seating downstairs and has cereal-inspired memorabilia throughout the cafe. Memorabilia includes a selection of cereal box collectable toys, limited edition boxes, and artwork made from cereal. Downstairs are also a couple of smaller television screens showing cartoons, and this brought me back to my childhood days in the states as I remembered watching cartoons on Saturday morning with a bowl of cereal. This cafe was very nastalgic and it made me feel a little bit like a kid again! 

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Cereal Killer Cafe's menu comprises of a large selection of American and British cereals and a smaller selection of global cereals. Visitors can add milk to their cereal at no extra cost or choose a premium milk from a variety of flavours, including soy, strawberry, banana, chocolate, and almond. Toppings can also be added to cereal for a small cost, and these include fresh fruit, nuts, marshmallows, chocolates, Reeses, and raisins. 

In addition to the cereals and toppings, the cafe sells a selection of PopTarts, toast with a variety of spreads (jam, butter, marmite, nutella, marshmallow), hot drinks, cold drinks, and a selection of what they call "cereal cocktails". These "cereal cocktails" are non-alcoholic and are basically a blend of different types of cereals, milk, and toppings.

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I had a Confetti Cupcake PopTart, a new type of PopTart that I had never tried before. I really liked it. I also had Life cereal, which is one of my favourites. Milk is free for a bowl of cereal, but I never have my cereal with milk as I dislike the taste of milk and I'm not keen on soggy cereal. 

The first 100 customers to Cereal Killer Cafe also received a special goodie bag with a cereal bowl (complete with in-built straw to suck up the remaining milk), a Kelloggs towel with some of its cereal characters, and a keychain/keyring.

Cereal Killer Cafe is located on 139 Brick Lane, E1 6SB. I am unsure about the hours as they do not appear to be posted, but I believe the daily opening time is at 7:00am.

UK 2014 Glossybox Review: December

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My beauty box subscription Glossybox arrived on Monday. I was excited about this box as Christmas is coming up in a couple of weeks, so I was really looking forward to the surprises and thought that the box would be a good one. However, I felt disappointed with my box's contents this month and received at least one product that I will never use and have no interest in. The last couple of boxes from Glossybox have been really good for me, but the first the first two were not, so I hope we're not going back to receiving products that aren't right for me. Anyway, on to my reviews.

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First of all, I loved the Glossbybox Christmas packaging box design this month. The box also smelled really nice when I opened it. 

Bellapierre lip and cheek stain in coral: This is a full-sized product and it can be used as a blusher and as a lip balm. The shade is a coral pink colour. I tried it on my lips and cheeks, and it's a subtle colour. This is my favourite product in the box.

TRESemme 60 second hair treatment shots: This is a full-sized product, and four "shots" come in the pack. These claim to nourish hair. My hair is in a decent state at the moment, so I'm curious to see how these work with me when my hair is in need.

Anatomicals Day and Night Spot Stick: This full-sized product claims to zap the spots away. I had a couple of spots on their way out, so I had a quick test of the product last night and again this morning. One side is a night cream, and the other is a day cream. The night cream product stings (dries) the spot when used. This product does not seem to dry my skin out or act too aggressively like similar products from other brands, so I will have a proper test of it next time an acne problem arises.

SoSusan Dual Brown Powder: This full-sized product is my least favourite in the box and one that I will never use. I don't draw on my brows and it does not suit my needs. The biggest problem with it is that both shades of powder are brown. My brows are black, and the darker brown is still too light for me to use. I may be able to use them as an eye shadow. Overall, this is disappointing.

SkinPep Wrinkle Clear Peptide Serum: I am not so keen on this type of product either. I do not have any "fine lines or wrinkles" yet. If I did, this is the type of product that would need to be used and monitored over time. Actually, this product threw me off because I expected a cream, and it's actually a liquid, so too much came out. This is a product that I will be putting away for the future because I do not need to use it now.

With four full-zised products, it is a pity that almost half of the products were of no interest to me. What did you get in your December UK 2014 Glossybox, and were you happy?

My previous 2014 UK Glossybox reviews:

Covent Garden's New Shiny Reindeer

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This year, the large green red-nosed reindeer statue that has graced Covent Garden at Christmas time over the past several years has been replaced by a new fesitve giant redineer. This one is silver and is mounted on a green sleigh. The reindeer has small holes over its body, and it lights a pale blue colour at dark.

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While in Covent Garden, you may also see and pet some real reindeer and visit the LEGO Santa and his team of LEGO reindeer a few yards away (Santa and Lego Reindeer for Christmas in Covent Garden).

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What do you think of Covent Garden's new reindeer?

Christmas Afternoon Tea at Conrad St. James

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Yesterday I started to get into the Christmas spirit at last. We only returned from holiday on Wednesday night, and I was not feeling my best for the couple of days afterwards. Thankfully, I was feeling a bit better yesterday (even though I still feel like hibernating). I managed to write some Christmas cards and go out for my pre-booked Christmas afternoon tea at Emmeline's Lounge in Conrad St. James.

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Emmeline's Lounge was decorated for the holidays with a large decorated tree as a centrepiece in the room. As we started to look at the afternoon tea menu, a small group of carollers entered the room and started to sing Christmas carols. We were sat next to the decorated tree. We sipped our unlimited champagne and listened to the carols.

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The savouries were brought out to us onto three tiers. The top tier included brussel sprout salad, served in shot glasses. This was a puree with a cream cheese and brussel sprout taste, and it had quite a strong flavour. The plate also included turkey ballotine (turkey meat formed around stuffing) with cranberry on the side and venison parcels in pastry.

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The next tier included the sandwiches: smoked salmon and lemon creme fraiche, beetroot and spinach, and gammon with mustard.

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The third tier included four scones wrapped in a fabric napkin. The two scone flavours were orange and cranberry and Christmas spice. These were served with the traditional clotted cream and strawberry jams, but an additional preserve of blackberry curd was included. The scones tasted lovely and fresh.

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I cannot forget to mention the tea. I had the Darjeeling tea, which is an easy-going black tea. This was served loose-leaf (the only way one should have tea, in my opinion), and came with a strainer.

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After we had finished the savouries and got seconds of some of it, we were finally rewarded with our winter dessert scene. This was carried over to us in a frosted window display over a sheet of slate that contained the edible winterscape. I took quite a few photographs.

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When the frosted 'window' was removed, we could take a glimpse at the edible cakes and pastries. They included meringue snowmen, winter berry Christmas tree, white forest yule logs, snowflake ginger macaroons, chocolate and orange battenberg presents, and Christmas postcard marshmallows.

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The Christmas tree was my favourite. It was made of berry sorbet and had the richest chocolate 'brownie' base that I've had in a long time. This was delicious. The marshmallows and macaroons were lovely too. I almost forgot to mention this, but the snow that the pastries are sat in and around was also edible and formed of meringue and silver and gold chocolate pieces.

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We had a lovely time at Emmeline's Lounge at Conrad St. James, and the Christmas carols and everything made us feel really special. This is one of the best afternoon tea experiences that I have had yet, and it put us in a Christmas mood.

Every Christmas for the past few years, Covent Garden brings us a themed Lego sculpture. This year's Lego is a full-sized Santa, sleigh, and nine reindeer (including Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer). The Lego sculpture in Covent Garden always proves to be popular with visitors to the area. This year's Lego sculpture was created by Duncan Titmarsh, and it took 700,000 bricks and thirty days to complete.

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There's even a seat next to Santa so that visitors can sit next to him and get photographs to upload to social media. Visitors are asked to publish their "selfie" photographs to #LEGOsleigh on social media.

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The Lego Christmas sculptures will be on display until the 29th of December. Make sure to walk around the sleigh; the gifts in the back of the sleigh are also all made of Lego. 

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Last year, visitors could walk through a large snowglobe filled with London monuments made from Lego and the year before, a large Lego advent calendar allowed a 'window' to open up each day to display a surprise Lego Christmas sculpture.  

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