Continental Christmas cheer


Hi there!

The days approaching the end of the year can feel very long, dark and grey, but it’s good to know that we are already almost on the turn towards more light each day, even if not always more sunshine. The days when we do enjoy clear skies and sunlight for a few hours are so gorgeous they can really lift your mood, and I was lucky enough to pick the right weekend to head to the continent and a couple of Christmas Markets – the weather was hugely cold but gorgeous – perfect to help find that Christmas spirit!

Olley and I set off with a couple of friends – rather than using the Eurostar it was much cheaper for us all in one car, so Olley drove and we took the shuttle from Kent to Calais.

An hour on from Calais and we were in Lille, the capital of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region in northern France, near the border with Belgium. It’s a beautiful city – full of culture, with a university and once an important merchant centre of French Flanders. You can see lots of Flemish influences in the city’s cuisine and architecture and the historic centre, Vieux Lille, is full of 17th-century brick town houses and cobbled pedestrian streets – stunning! I was rather disappointed with the Christmas Market which was so busy you could barely get to the stalls, and they were mainly selling food or mass produced gifts. I was looking for handcrafted decorations but didn’t buy anything except a large hot chocolate to enjoy while Olley tried a glass of the local brew. (I did indulge in a delicious gluhwein later!) But the effort put into the decorations was fantastic, with a huge Christmas tree, an illuminated big wheel and lights everywhere. I will definitely return for longer to explore.

The following day we moved on to Bruges which is breathtakingly amazing. With its canals, cobbled streets and medieval buildings, not to mention the traditional lace and scrumptious chocolates in the little shops, there’s a lovely surprise as you turn every corner. The buildings were bathed in glorious winter sunshine which enhanced the warm yellows and ochres of the painted walls.

Kathy Tayler

By complete coincidence, my old boss Mark (QVC’s first presenter manager) was in Bruges for the weekend too, so we met up for a drink and a catch up before lunch, then off the the Christmas market. No disappointment here – it was full of stalls selling exactly what I had hoped for, and my pockets were soon empty of their euros!

Kathy Tayler's Christmas decorations

I’ve included a photo of some of the things I bought, including hand carved wooden figures, lovely ceramic tea-light holders and hand cut glass angels to hang – I gave one to Ali K who hung it on our dressing room mirror – photo below!

Angel decoration

And did I mention the chocolates? Handmade Belgian chocolates which are perfect Christmas gifts but I can’t deny that some didn’t survive the journey home…

We delivered our friends home to west London less than fours hours after leaving Bruges – such an easy journey to two lovely places that I haven’t visited before, all in a weekend.

Take care

Kathy x


  1. Denise December 15, 2016 at 2:33 pm -  Reply

    Hi Kathy, thanks for sharing your weekend away it sounds delightful. It really made me feel very envious. I haven’t been to Lille but have visited Bruges many times. Where I live we are lucky to have an overnight ferry that goes to Bruges and reading about your trip I’m sat here wondering why we’ve never made use of it at this time of year. Must put it on the list for next year. It’s nice to visit new places and this year I was lucky enough to go to the Christmas market at Chatsworth House. That was a gorgeous day – crisp and sunny like you described and of course in the most wonderful setting of the house it was very festive and I picked up quite a few bits and pieces.
    Have a very happy Christmas and wish your daughter a very Happy Wedding Anniversary (hope I’m not too late)
    Denise x

  2. Christine matthews December 16, 2016 at 5:22 pm -  Reply

    KathyTaylor is asking Marla wynn questiones, where can I get that jacket Kathy has on please.

  3. Susan December 18, 2016 at 9:57 am -  Reply

    Hi Kathy, wow I love your blogs! You lead such a varied life! I don’t know how you do it all! You must have a huge amount of friends coz you’re always off with them! Bruges looks gorgeous and I love your decorations. Happy anniversary to bex btw x

  4. Jill December 20, 2016 at 3:35 pm -  Reply

    Hi Kathy
    Looks like you had a great time and managed to get something different for your tree. The decorations look lovely. The city’s you visited look great and such a great atmosphere too.
    So very sad to heart the news today at the German markets.

    My thoughts and prayers are with all those who are suffering this Christmas at the hands of these monsters.
    Best wishes and love to you Kathy and all the family and a happy healthy 2017. XX

  5. Kathy December 22, 2016 at 9:46 pm -  Reply

    Hello Denise.
    Thanks for your good wishes to Bex, I passed on them on to her and she said thanks!
    I have to say, if I lived the right side of the M25 I’d be off to Bruges as often as i could, I loved it. But there are so many new places to visit too, aren’t there – Olley and I were staying in Derbyshire in our motor home two autumns ago and we went to Chatsworth and their Christmas market but we didn’t go into the house. Beautiful grounds, though.
    I hope you enjoy a wonderful Christmas, and all my best wishes to you for 2017.
    Kathy x

  6. Kathy December 22, 2016 at 9:48 pm -  Reply

    Hi Christine, I’m not sure which jacket you mean but I do remember interviewing Marla so I’ll try to find the footage and which jacket I was wearing. If I do, I’ll let you know.
    Kathy x

  7. Kathy December 22, 2016 at 9:55 pm -  Reply

    Hi Susan – lovely to hear from you again.
    Just a few good friends, actually! That’s all I need…
    Sometimes I feel as though I’m always on the go and don’t settle at home as much as I would like, but I do love exploring new places too. It’s all about finding a balance, I suppose. Glad you like the look of Bruges, it’s well worth a visit.
    Bex said thanks, she had a great anniversary spending the day with us after our early Christmas on Sunday – she and Dan had a walk along the Thames before having lunch in a favourite riverside pub then headed home to London and went to the Royal Albert Hall for a performance of Handel’s Messiah. A lovely day!
    I hope you enjoy a wonderful Christmas and New Year, all the best for 2017.
    Kathy x

  8. Kathy December 22, 2016 at 10:01 pm -  Reply

    Hello Jill
    I echo your words, what a terrible waste of life and made worse, somehow, by being so near to Christmas. I’m sure all of us send our thoughts and prayers to those who were injured or lost loved ones in Berlin.
    I also send my very best wishes to you for the festive season – and I wish you health, peace and happiness to you and yours for 2017.
    Kathy x

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