What's not to love about Easter? As well as being a significant celebration in the Christian calendar, for most of us Easter also signals the arrival of spring and the opportunity of four days away from work. Unlike Christmas, there's little cause for Bah Humbug-ness, with the focus on spending time with family and friends; though true enough that the Easter break is often associated with those big DIY and gardening jobs that weren't tackled the year before. But who wouldn't prefer to be outdoors or doing a makeover, than sitting at a desk staring at a spreadsheet?
I probably harbour even happier childhood memories of Easter than I do of Christmas. The school holidays were always spent at my grandparents, who lived in the countryside in a cottage surrounded by walnut trees and carpets of daffodils. My preference was always for small, solid chocolate eggs rather than the large hollow variety - somehow I decided these offered a better proportion of chocolate to air! These were duly delivered on Easter Sunday in a margarine tub covered with crepe paper.
Thirty years on my tastes have become more expensive, but I still prefer a solid egg. If you’re with me, I'd urge you to try
Prestat's assorted polka dot chocolate eggs, which are filled with a rich hazelnut truffle. Alternatively Natalie's milk chocolate speckled mini eggs are exactly like those the Easter bunny used to leave for me - they never lasted long. I'd also be very happy with
Charbonnel et Walker's hollow dark chocolate egg filled with rose and violet creams. The epitome of Englishness, this egg is beautifully packaged and made of the finest chocolate.
Easter has increasingly become an occasion for
decorating the home, a practice we’ve steadily adopted from our European cousins. I can't help being amused by our set of 12 multicoloured fluffy chicks which would make perfect cake or table decorations. A wreath isn't just for Christmas, so welcome your visitors by hanging a pretty Easter wreath on your front door. Indoors, either blow and paint your own hen's eggs (try Clarence Court's Old Cotswold Legbar eggs from Waitrose, which have a distinctive pale blue shell) or some of our charming hand-blown glass decorations and hang them on bundles of bare twigs cut from the garden. I particularly like our open glass decorations with a little bird and nest inside.
Whether you're racing around the country visiting friends and family, converting your loft, pottering in the greenhouse, reflecting on your faith or simply enjoying a rest from work, I wish you all a very Happy Easter.
Did you know that in Myanmar (Burma), Mother's Day is celebrated on the day of the first full moon in January? Or that in many countries this special occasion is celebrated in May rather than on the 4th Sunday in Lent? In fact, the only months in which Mother's Day isn’t celebrated somewhere in the world are July and September. Lest I confuse you with all this fascinating trivia, the date for honouring our wonderful mums in the UK this year is Sunday 30 March.
Traditionally, we like to pamper our mothers with flowers, chocolates or a special meal. Fresh flowers are wonderful, but quickly fade, so for a gift that will last and last you might want to consider a fabulous orchid flower arrangement, or pretty white peonies. My top tip is to give them a quick blast with a hairdryer every couple of weeks to keep them looking fresher than daisies.
Mothers surely deserve the very best when it comes to chocolates, and the choice can be bewildering. It's difficult to go wrong with Charbonnel and Walker's scrumptious pink champagne truffles, and show her how much you care by opting for the bigger 275g. If you're in the dog house, or repaying a year of babysitting duties, push the boat out with ( ) Hotel Chocolat's Chocolate and Prosecco hamper to get you back in her good books.
If your mum enjoys a tipple, try something different with Edinburgh Gin's delicious new elderflower gin which is relatively light on alcohol, but packed with the flavours of early summer. Mums who prefer to relax with a soothing room fragrance may prefer the sensory pleasures of a Neom aromatherapy treatment candle. The packaging of the Complete Bliss fragrance is emblazoned with a luxurious pink rose.
If you have several siblings, it can be nice to club together to buy a special gift or experience. For mums with a good head for heights, I'd recommend the Red Letter Days Shard and Tea for 2 experience at £115. For those who prefer life on terra-firma, the Perfect for Her experience at £55 offers a choice of activities, including cupcake decorating, spa treatments, cookery classes and driving days.
And what will Mr Christmas be buying for his mother this year? Well, a handbag has been requested, and it has to be a timeless tardis of a bag, so it's between Jaeger's navy blue Chadwick hobo bag and White Stuff's navy Maisie bag. Either choice will be expected to last for many years, so quality counts…
Happy Mother’s Day!