Hats, Gloves, Scarves, Check

We’ve been busy making Festive truffles all week. I spent most of Friday decorating 500 Christmas Pudding truffles, which required a good number of tea breaks to give my eyes an opportunity to adjust from the close work! This weekend we’ve been exhibiting at the Cressing Temple Chistmas Fair. Cressing Temple Barns is a stunning setting, but boy it was cold this weekend! The sleet on Saturday made setting up a little challenging, and the grass car park became a slalom. With front wheel drive I was a little nervous about us getting out in the evening, but we managed to find a reasonable spot and escaped with nothing more than extensive mud spatters. Sunday was dry but very, very cold so it was time to break out the thermals and thick layers, as the barns offered us very little warmth. We were grateful for the mulled wine on offer at a couple of the stalls! Our Festive collections continue to go down well, and we were pleased we’d restocked on the Advent Calendars as these are selling very well at the moment. So it’s more of the same next week. In some ways I’m glad I’m too busy to go out on my regular morning runs, as it’s a good excuse not to go out in the cold first thing!

Christmas Countdown

Our Festive packaging arrived this week and we’re really pleased with the finished boxes. It meant we had a few late nights packing and wrapping to get our Harvey Nichols order ready to ship as these are only going to retail in the Harvey Nichols stores and direct from us. Over the weekend we’ve been at the Wherstead Park Christmas Show. It was the first time we’d exhibited at this show and had heard great things about the event in terms of sales and footfall. Unfortunately the weather was against us this year, with torrential rain on Saturday leaving people reluctant to leave home, and I can’t say I blamed them when I saw how bad the weather was! As we were indoors all day with no external view we’d had no idea. However, our Festive collections were well received by everyone there and our Advent Calendars have proved extremely popular. Earlier in the week we were invited to the launch of a new hotel in Colchester. The Blue Ivy on North Hill is a beautiful boutique hotel and restaurant with a mouthwatering menu. Some midweek bubbles and delicious canapes were well received by the team in the middle of a very busy work week. So now it’s back to the kitchen. Christmas is definitely looming as our work days get longer and longer whilst the order book doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller. We wouldn’t have it any other way!

Choctails Maritime Festival Display Stand

Maritime Mixtures

We’re just back from a weekend at the Ipswich Maritime Festival; a fun-filled family event with plenty to see and do. The sun shone all day on Saturday, which was great for the visitors but not as great for the food stalls as we had to keep chasing the shade for most of the afternoon to avoid the direct sunshine. Sunday was warm and cloudy, so there was less need to shuffle tables a few feet every few minutes! It’s been a busy couple of weeks for us, getting samples and display stock ready for the Speciality and Fine Food Fair at the beginning of next month. We’ve also been preparing fresh stocks of chocolate bars for the Ely Gin Company – great to see our Gin o’clock bars are so popular there. In addition I had the fun job of creating a truffle specifically for a party using 42 Below Vodka – a New Zealand spirit flavoured with Feijoa, which has a very distinct flavour and has caused a diversity of interesting facial expressions amongst the team. Add that to party platters for a 40th birthday and two different types of wedding favours and we’ve not had much time to spare!

Proof is in the Pudding

I’ve had the first proofs through for our Festive Collection boxes and I’m really excited about how they’re going to look. We’ve submitted fresh samples to the retailer as some of the flavours and designs needed tweaking. That of course means proof reading – something I used to do on a regular basis when I was producing CRM training manuals, but not something I’m quite so used to these days. (more…)

Foraging and Feasting

The Cressing Temple Food Festival was a roaring success for us. Saturday was a reasonable day, and I was lucky enough to meet John Torode as he wandered around some of the food stalls in between his cookery demonstrations. I offered him a sample of the Peach Bellini, which he said was “very nice”, although I don’t know if that counts as a proper celebrity endorsement or if he was just being polite! Sunday was a much busier day and we all but sold out by closing time. However, that wasn’t the highlight of our weekend. (more…)

Classic Cars and Island Life

During the week Choctails was a part of the Pete Best Insurance Client Day. The company specialises in classic car insurance, and as a motor enthusiast I was in my element around some stunning classic cars in the gorgeous setting of Prested Hall in Kelvedon. (more…)

Green Island Gardens Choctails Exhibition Stand

Bluebells and All Things Bazar

This weekend we were part of the Bluebells Bazar in the idyllic setting of Green Island Gardens in Ardleigh. The extensive lawns were taken over with a variety of different craft stalls and it was a chance for the public not only to shop from a variety of local artisan producers but also to enjoy the 20 acre private gardens which only open to the public at certain times of the year. (more…)