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Xmas Music ‘Musts’

Xmas Music ‘Musts’

It is the season to be jolly after all, but hearing Mariah Carey yelp out ‘I don’t want a lot for Christmas’ repeatedly everywhere I go actually makes me shiver with anger.
I’m not a Grinch or a Scrooge, I actually love Christmas and the whole festive spirit.
In fact, I make my playlist on the 30th November ready to provide me with 25 days of listening pleasure each year.

So without any further ado, here is my countdown to the best Christmas songs out there (In my opinion, of course!)

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15. Saviour’s Day – Cliff Richard

I know, I know…What happened to ‘Mistletoe and Wine’? Well, what happened is that I listened to that song and ended up putting my fist through a nearby yule log.

‘Saviour’s Day’ on the other hand…
Wow, what an opening, it hits you in the face like a punch from an angry elf.  I think you have to have a bit of Cliff in any Christmas Song list anyways, it’s a tradition, like charades, or carolling or in my family where everyone gets tipsy and argues about religion.

Key Lyric – ”Open your eyes for the Saviours day. Don’t look back or turn away.”

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14. Coldplay – Christmas Lights

The opening piano part literally floats across the cold mist in the air and leaves you feeling oh so warm inside.

A much welcomed Chris Martin’s voice enters in and all is good in the world. Images of crackers being pulled and families sat round the fire all kick in. Everyone likes Coldplay and this is a fantastic attempt at creating an original christmas song.

Key Lyric – “May all your troubles soon be gone. Oh, Christmas lights keep shining on”

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13. The Killers – Boots

The Killers release a Christmas song every year. Good for them I say, although not all of them are up to the usual high standards of Killers tracks. Boots is my favourite though and I like the lyrics and of course you can’t deny that Brandon Flowers voice would be one of the gifts that a modern-day 3 wise man would box up and give to the baby Jesus.

Key Lyrics – “I can see my Mother in the Kitchen, my Father on the floor, watching television, ‘It’s a wonderful life’.”

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12. Band Aid – Do they know it’s Christmas?

For me nothing makes Christmas like hearing Simon Le Bon belt out ‘it’s hard, but when you’re having fun.’ It makes me all warm inside in a good way, not in an internal bleeding way. Bono is a bit selfish though isn’t he?
Key Lyric – “Well tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you.”

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11. Mumford & Sons – Winter Winds

Whilst it isn’t a song about christmas, it literally makes you feel that little bit warmer in this abnormally cold snap we’re in. Imagine a song which acts as a draft stopper and scarf at the same time, and these warming lyrics and country feel will sort you out proper…like a nice mulled wine.

Key Lyrics – “As the winter winds litter London with lonely hearts, Oh the warmth in your eyes swept me into your arms.”

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10. Sufjan Stevens – Only at Christmas Time

I am a big big fan of anything that Sufjan Stevens makes and his boxset, ‘Songs For Christmas; Volumes 1-5’, is no exception. The set itself is fantastic and I implore you to buy it even if you are or aren’t a Sufjan Stevens fan. Plenty of well known and original Christmas songs with a load of extra things thrown in. I’ve picked 2 out of 43 tracks in this list the first being ‘Only at Christmas Time’.

The guitar is soft and sad, and the vocals soothing and relaxing. Perfect song for a drive in the snow at night, or to read a book to in front of a roaring log fire.

Key Lyric – “Everything lost will find, only at Christmas time.

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9. Theme from The Snowman – Walking in the Air

Before you point out that you know the name of the singer, I am fully aware of who Aled Jones is. The song was known as the theme to ‘The Snowman’, the animated film from 1982 as the version in the film isn’t actually sung by Aled Jones, it’s by choir boy Peter Auty.

Take that slice of information, butter it with the fact that the vocals are hauntingly good and full of melancholy, smother it with the sweet lyrics, bite into it and enjoy!
Key Lyric – “We’re walking in the air, we’re floating in the moonlit sky.

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8. Maps – Stay Another Day

I’ll admit it, I do like the East 17 version, but Maps make awesome music and any chance I get to include them in this list I’m going to take!

Key Lyric – “Baby if you’ve got to go away, Don’t think I can take the pain.”

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7. Mike Oldfield – In Dulci Jubilo
If you can listen to this song and not want to start shaking your arms, legs and head and imagine you are a leprechaun on Christmas then I don’t know how you do it.

This song is incredibly unique, it isn’t festive sounding yet it is like opening a box full of Christmas spirit.
This song is dangerous to drive to as I recently found out. Damn I miss my wing mirrors.
Key Lyric – There aren’t any, but the guitar solo is special enough.

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6. Jona Lewie – Stop the Calvary

Never originally intended as a Christmas song, ‘Stop the Calvary’ refers to the wishes of countless soldiers throughout centuries of wars. It starts off quite slowly and not especially jolly, but once the brass band kicks in I instantly run into the kitchen and grab a mince pie from the cupboard. I then sit contently as I bite into my mince pie and enjoy the song, bobbing my head along to the synths.

Key Lyric – “Wish I was at home, for Christmas.”

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5. Leona Naess – Christmas
I only heard this song a couple of years ago and didn’t really pay much attention to it. Then one day last Christmas it came on my headphones and I was blown away with the general awesomeness of this track.
It’s a beautiful track, the guitar glides alongside the calming vocals before building into a crescendo of sorts before then dropping back into that comfort zone of bliss.
This really is an alternative Christmas song, however this shouldn’t take anything away from this brilliant track.
Key Lyric – “Words are falling from your lips, like Christmas to my hips.”

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4. Sufjan Stevens – Did I Make You Cry On Christmas? (Well, You Deserved It!)

The second offering from Sufjan Stevens, this time from Volume IV: Peace.
‘Did I Make You Cry on Christmas?’ is a wonderful song as it stands, ignoring the Christmas theme of the song. However the lyrics and slight jingling of bells make it most definitely a safe bet for my top 10, fantastic track.

I’m noticing a lot of my Christmas songs aren’t the most upbeat of tracks, but this knocks ‘Wonderful Christmas Time’ right off the radar – sorry Mr. McCartney
Key Lyrics – “Did I make you cry on Christmas day? Did I make you cry like every other day?”

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3. Death Cab For Cutie – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

A cover of the 1960s Darlene Love classic, I am absolutely in love with this version. Being a big fan of the band already helps this love to flourish, but Ben Gibbard’s eerie vocal just sends shivers down my spine like an intrusive snowflake sneaking it’s way around my scarf.
Key Lyric – “They’re singing ‘Deck the Halls’, but it’s not like Christmas at all.”

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2. Chris De Burgh – A Spaceman Came Travelling

The song is all about an alternative vision of the birth of Jesus, where rather than the three wise men following a star, instead it is a spaceship. If you haven’t heard this before then do not fear, it isn’t anywhere near as bad as it sounds. It’s actually a pretty incredible song, and somehow even though it’s about a spaceship, the lyrics really are special and do relate to the story of Christmas.

I’m not a Chris De Burgh fan but he sings this fantastically, it’s haunting, it’s chilling, it makes you feel good, it is Christmas.

Key Lyric – “And it hung in the sky like a star, just like a star.”

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1. Greg Lake – I Believe in Father Christmas
So here we are at number one. For me this choice was simple, there isn’t another Christmas song out there that I like more. The ironic thing is that this isn’t a straight up Christmas song about Father Christmas at all. The song is written about the commercialisation of Christmas, ‘They sold me a dream of Christmas, they sold me a silent night.’

The song uses an exceptional instrumental piece entitled ‘Troika’, taken from a soviet film from the 1930s, which just somehow perfectly fits in. This coupled with the excellent guitar intro, horn, strings and great lyrics puts this firmly at the top of my list of Christmas songs.
Key Lyric – “They said they’d be snow at Christmas, they said there’ll be peace on earth.”

My Favourite Places to Eat in Cardiff

My Favourite Places to Eat in Cardiff

One of the many things that makes Cardiff such a wonderful City is its vibrant food scene – I’d happily eat breakfast, lunch and dinner out every day if I could! There’s something to satisfy everyone and you don’t have to spend a fortune either. Here are just some of the places I love:
Kemi’s 
Kemi’s in Pontcanna is my favourite place to go for lunch. Her salads are incredible – the best I’ve ever tasted. They also sell delicious home made quiche, sarnies, wraps, jacket potatoes and fabulous cakes, including gluten free options. It’s my dream to be able to cook as well as Kemi.
Kemis Pontcanna, Kings Road, Cardiff, CF11 9DF
@KemisCafe
Bangkok Cafe
I absolutely adore Thai food and this lovely restaurant is run by Tamsin Ramasut, whose family also owns the
Thai House Restaurant in the city centre. I like the Bangkok Cafe because the atmosphere is very relaxed and, most importantly, the food is authentic and totally delicious. The best dish on the menu (in my opinion) is the Gang Massaman Gah – the lamb curry with peanuts and potatoes. I also love the grills and pad thai. It’s also worth popping in lunchtime for their £5.50 menu if you are ever in the Canton area.
Bangkok Cafe, 207 Cowbridge Rd East, Cardiff, CF11 9AJ
@bangkokcafe
Cafe Citta
Best Italian food in Cardiff hands down in a really cosy little city centre restaurant. It used to be a well kept secret but Cafe Citta has managed to make it up to the top of Trip Advisor restaurants for Cardiff and has grown significantly in popularity recently, so you generally need to book well in advance. Their pasta dishes are fabulous (they often have a special of pasta con spezzatin – a slow cooked beef ragu penne) and the wood fired pizzas are great too. It’s very reasonably priced and service is great.
Cafe Citta, 4 Church Street, Cardiff CF10 1BG
No website
@CafeCitta
Fat Pig Deli
The Fat Pig Deli in Pontcanna is located close to my home so if I’m ever meeting friends for brunch at weekends this is where I tend to go –  they do a magnificent breakfast (my fave is the Spanish one) and spectacular banana pancakes. It’s a stylish yet cosy deli run by a lovely chap called Barry. It’s also great for lunchtime sandwiches and their tapas in the evening. Obviously, being a deli, it also sells a superb selection of breads, meats, cheeses, cakes and much more.
Fat Pig Deli, 4 Romilly Crescent, Cardiff CF11 9NP
@Fatpigdeli
Arbennig 
Next to the Fat Pig Deli is one of my favourite restaurants in Cardiff. Arbennig is Welsh for ‘special’ and it genuinely is, well, special. Arbennig is relatively new but is already picking up great reviews and was the highest rated restaurant in Cardiff in the Good Food Guide this year. It’s no wonder, as the modern locally-sourced menu never fails to impress and service is first class. Their lunchtime 2 course menu is exceptional value for money and also definitely worth making a visit to Pontcanna for.
Arbennig, Romilly Crescent, Cardiff CF11 9NP
@ArbennigCardiff
Got Beef / Clwb Brecwast
Amazing burger joint on Whitchurch Road. Their signature burgers, which include The Soprano and The Heisenburger, contain True Taste award-winning Welsh black beef – and they are ludicrously tasty. Owned and run by Cai Pritchard, he and his brother Garyn also recently launched Clwb Brecwast on weekends at the restaurant (on Whitchurch Road), serving delicious and inventive freshly cooked breakfasts, with not a fry up in sight. Clwb Brecwast is taking a break over Christmas but should be back in 2015.
Got Beef Bar & Kitchen, 83 Whitchurch Road, Cardiff CF14 3JP
@GotBeefCo @brecwast
Ichiban
One of the things I missed when I left London and moved back to Cardiff was Japanese cuisine but luckily we have Ichiban – which has one restaurant in Canton and another on Albany Road. Ichiban serves top notch sushi and at a fraction of the price it costs in the big smoke. You have to pick your dishes fairly carefully but generally you can’t go wrong with the sashimi and the set meals too, which are excellent value for money.
Ichiban Canton, 201 Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff CF11 9AJ
Ichiban Roath, 167 Albany Road, Cardiff CF24 3NT
Elin Rees PR launches ‘MyAbergavenny’

Elin Rees PR launches ‘MyAbergavenny’

Elin Rees PR recently added a new string to our bow in the world of digital marketing strategy by launching ‘MyAbergavenny’, a localised deals & offers site, in the mould of Groupon, for local businesses and visitors of the small welsh town Abergavenny.

We were initially asked to look at creating a series of short videos which would detail a local business and a promotional offer they would run.
We set about thinking of how we could still create the same end result of promoting special deals to the public, but in a more effective and engaging way.

Whilst working on the logistics of how to run this campaign, during the research of local businesses and activity providers, it became apparent that many already ran their own ‘deals’ of sorts, from incentivising additional free nights at b&bs to special meal deals in restaurants.

The decision was then made to create a website which actually brought these varied offers together in one place, saving the casual web user the effort of going through each individual business in and around Abergavenny, instead being able to browse through offers they may be interested in and never even knew existed all in one place.

Keen to stick with the ‘one exclusive offer’ concept, we then looked at integrating a simple e-commerce element to the website, enabling visitors to purchase one exclusive offer unique to the MyAbergavenny website.

As the objective of the site is partly to help local businesses, it made sense to offer the service free of commission charge, meaning that the option to list or feature a particular product or deal would be risk-free, unlike the model exhibited by larger ‘deal’ websites such as Groupon and Wowcher.

The website was recently launched, complete with over 20 local offers listed and of course the one unique purchasable offer.

The project itself has been quite different to anything we’ve worked on before and of course as a result there have been challenges we’ve come up against, but it’s also been an exciting time to launch what we believe is a website which could be a real success and not only embraced by the whole community, but also become the go-to place for anyone planning a visit to Abergavenny.

Why not have a peek yourself and be sure to let us know what you think, perhaps you’ll even find an offer that takes your fancy just in time for Xmas!

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Meet the Elin Rees PR team

Meet the Elin Rees PR team

Get to know Elin Rees PR. Find out our dream clients, the names of our mothers and who fancies Ian Hislop…

What is your mum called?

Elin: Lynwen.

Joe: Patricia, or ‘Pat’.

Sarah: Patricia, or ‘Trish’.

Who would be your dream client?

Elin: Chanel. Or Mulberry. Or Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

Joe: PG Tips at the hope they’d offer a lifetime supply of tea.

Sarah: Cardiff City FC.

What is your favourite animal?

Elin: Monkeys. So cool.

Joe: Slow Loris – greatest animal ever.

Sarah: Dogs. My dog Jimmy Chews is totally my best friend.

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Who are your celebrity crushes?

Elin: Hugh Jackman, Dave Grohl, Serge from Kasabian, Simon from Biffy Clyro, Ian Hislop (yes, I did just say that).

Joe: Demi Lovato.

Sarah: Frank Ocean for the boys, Taylor Swift for the girls – musical dreamboats.

What is your favourite song of all time?

Elin: Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses.

Joe: Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie.

Sarah: Jessie’s Girl by Rick Springfield.

What would you like for dinner?

Elin: A giant seafood platter.

Joe: Anything Thai.

Sarah: I would like a roast dinner but I can’t cook, so if anyone out there would like to cook me one that would be really nice.

Who is your favourite football player?

Elin: I’ll go for Freddie Ljunberg for his amazing bone structure.

Joe: David Hirst – boyhood hero.

Sarah: Currently Fabio Da Silva. I love his curly hair and puppy-like enthusiasm.

Describe yourself in three words?

Elin: Friendly, hardworking, positive.

Joe: Child Like Haircut.

Sarah: Playful and kind and creative.

Who would play you in a film of your life?

Elin: Reese Witherspoon (the younger years), Meryl Streep (the older years).

Joe: Beppe from Eastenders.

Sarah: The lead actress in But I’m a Cheerleader looks an awful lot like me.

Beppe

What do you watch on television?

Elin: Lots of ‘homes’ programmes.

Joe: TV programmes, occasionally ‘fireplace in your home’ as it saves heating costs…

Sarah: I watch a hell of a lot of The Simpsons. Also, Seinfield.

Who is your favourite Big Brother contestant of all time?

Elin: Nadia.

Joe: Craig Phillips. The definitive big bro housemate.

Sarah: Nikki Grahame.

What is the best part of your job at Elin Rees PR?

Elin: The creative part – coming up with lots of ideas and then putting them into action.

Joe: The office is in a prime location for nearby pubs.

Sarah: I have so much fun. I feel like I’m constantly laughing…I can’t believe at the end of the day how much work I have done, ha.

Have yourself a *healthy* little Christmas

Have yourself a *healthy* little Christmas

It is important to stay afloat during the Christmas season and not end it crying in a pile of tinsel and mince pies, with gravy smeared over your face. If that was you last year, fear not!

 I spoke to Holly Squire of the healthy eating and general goodness blog Wholly Foods, who told me some of her top tips on how to wholeheartedly survive the festive season.

A lot of people’s attitude to food changes at Christmas. Are you ever tempted?

I think because I already make and cook all my own food, I wouldn’t really say my attitude changes. I think it’s really easy to be tempted by things – especially when it’s party season and you are being bombarded with messages that you should be eating lots of chocolate, stuffing your face with mince pies and have loads of drinks to have a good time…but for me it is still really important to know what I am putting into my body.

So what’s the alternative?

I think even though it is the festive season, we still need to be mindful about what we are eating and drinking, instead of just turning Christmas into an excuse for a massive binge-fest. I think one thing that always surprises people when they try my recipes is that healthy food doesn’t have to mean boring food.

So, what will you be eating on Christmas day?

I suppose essentially Christmas dinner is quite healthy. You’ve got your meat, and your veg; but then with the addition of the booze, the cream, and the sweets…that’s where it all starts to go a bit wrong. I won’t be deviating much from the traditional, but just be giving it a bit of a healthy twist. I’ll be making a nut-roast, a vegan gravy, I’m also trying to perfect a whole foods Yorkshire puddings recipe and of course lots of vegetables rounded off by a massive chocolate and pomegranate cake – which is just delicious. I’m also cooking for three other people who are mainly carnivores, so I will be excited to see how they handle a whole foods Christmas.

What are your tips to minimize the stress of Christmas?

I think the main thing is to be mindful of what we are doing and slow down a bit. We all have a tendency to rush around and think we should be doing all these different things, going to all these different parties, buying a present for this person and that person.

It easily becomes a busy, stressful time of year and it is important to step back and see Christmas for what it is – for me it’s all about family, friends and festive walks.

So if you could recommend one healthy thing to do this festive season what would it be?

I think it is really important to make sure there is time for yourself and make sure you look after your health, especially at this time of year. It’s all about a balance between a healthy body and a healthy mind. Another way to help give your body a bit of a cleanse and get rid of some of the toxins that have built up from the late nights and overeating, is to start each day with a hot water and slice of lemon. This is great for cleansing your cells and boosting your immunity – and is a really easy way to improve your health on a daily basis.

*** BONUS CHRISTMAS QUESTIONS ***

Is Christmas “the most wonderful time of the year”?

I think it depends who you talk to. I think it can be a wonderful time of the year but we also need to remember that there are people out there who are really lonely and all this focus on Christmas and family and fun can leave people feeling quite isolated and alone. I also think it’s important to manage your expectations and not anticipate the world out of one day of the year.

Like Scrooge, he didn’t think he was going to have a nice time did he?

That’s true! I suppose it’s about being realistic really. Christmas is pegged as “the most wonderful time of the year” but for some it is very stressful and isolating. But if we take a step back, look at how we treat other people, and try to have a healthy attitude…there is no reason why it can’t be wonderful for each individual in their own way.

What is a memorable Christmas memory for you?

Well I’m the eldest, with a younger brother and younger sister, and I remember the first Christmas I had when I knew Santa wasn’t real. I felt quite lied to, thinking, ‘Well who was eating all the cookies then?!’

What was your favourite childhood Christmas gift? What was something you really wanted as a kid and you got it?

I got one of those kitchen sets, you know, where you have the fake food? I really wanted that and my sister and I used to play with it for hours, serving up plastic carrots and broccoli for my mum to munch on. Thinking back, maybe that was the start of Wholly Foods!

What, in your opinion, is the best Christmas song?

I quite like Fairytale of New York.

What, in your opinion, is the worst Christmas song?

They’re all equally bad really, aren’t they? I really can’t stand, “IT’S CHRISTMAAAAAAAAAAS!” and ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ by Mariah Carey.

Why?!

I find it quite tragic, I think it has something to do with the video.

If you could write a Christmas card and it will be going to go to every doorstep all over the world, what would you write in it? It would be translated into different languages.

Have a wholly wholesome Christmas and a foodie new year.

And also “check out my blog”, right?

Go on then, have a look.