A Ballotin from Bruges

A Ballotin from Bruges

Nipping over to the continent for a Christmas market or weekend of cultural amusements is a snitch. So it beats me why I don’t do it more often. Over three years ago I took in the festive delights of Bruges, including a display of Disney themed ice sculptures that quite literally rendered me speechless but since have been something I’ve not been able to stop rambling on about.

I’m not going to lie, chocolate was high on our agenda for the weekend. A peruse around the chocolate museum and discovering that brandy tipped unceremoniously into a mug of frothy hot cocoa really is as good as it sounds were some of the highlights.

We made regular diversions into shops selling candy of all colours and unimaginable flavours – most of which have been long forgotten. Except Dumon Chocolatier.

A small establishment located quite centrally in Eiermarkt, Bruges, Dumon looks like something the Brothers Grimm dreamt up – a perfect Hansel and Gretel-esque cottage, a little at odds with the larger and later buildings. After descending a miniature staircase into the shop, floor to ceiling chocolate awaits.

Dumon
Picture chocolatierdumon.de

Not wanting to put all of our chocolate eggs into one big Ballotin, we opted for a medium selection to take home. Our carefully transported haul of Bruges’s finest were slowly sampled in the run up to Christmas. Despite other chocolates displaying far heftier price tags, Dumon Chocolatier won on all fronts – taste, texture, design – leaving us hungry for more.

A colleague of mine recently headed to Bruges and asked for travel tips. Being mid-summer enthusing about ice sculptures was futile but chocolate has year-round appeal. Directions to Eiermarkt duly divulged, I was not expecting an offer of Dumon’s produce in return.

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An email entitled “Mission Accomplished” pinged into my inbox and a gleaming picture of a Dumon Ballotin rewarded my eyes. What followed was a very long weekend of waiting.

The passing of time can warp memories, distorting opinions. Not so with these beauties. Packaged just how I remembered, the gleaming chocolates were once again a delight to be savoured. (If savoured means not scoffing them all in just one night.)

chocolatierdumon.be

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Dahlias

Dahlias

These snaps were taken on my last visit to Sidmouth, my late grandparents’ seaside abode, when we lunched at the top of Jacob’s Ladder. I have two very distinct childhood memories of this particular place: 1) my grandmother falling down, spraining her ankle and breaking her arm but not her spirit; 2) the flowers.

The garden ‘rooms’ are filled fabulous, flamboyant creatures made up of beautiful blooms – it was a veritable wonderland for a little girl. Although the sea is hidden from view, you can still taste its saltiness in the air and hear the gulls calling out (a sound that evokes the most glorious of seaside-y feelings when trapped in the landlocked Midlands).

The triumphant bursts of dahlias caught my eye on this last visit. I utterly adore these flowers.

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Jacob’s Ladder, Sidmouth

 

Hi December

Lantern 1

Sipping sweet and spicy mulled wine from handcrafted clay cups, lit only by the flickering lanterns….. mmmm Christmas. With only days until the big day I thought it was time to remind myself of last year’s celebrations in Bremerhaven, Germany.

We visited every Christmas market we came across in Germany  of which there were many. And the German’s know how to decorate a tree.

Tree 1

The food was not bad either. Which reminds me, I’m planning on making my stomach chuckle with delight at all the glorious food I will consume. I have visions of glazed mince pies surrounding a glistening iced cake decorated with gorgeously chewy gingerbread houses. And curled candy canes. And luscious chocolate truffles.

I could go on, but I have to clean the drool off the keyboard….

Cookie 1

xxx