With a new month now underway, many of us are reflecting back on what felt like one of the longest and dreariest Januarys on record.
Ongoing restrictions, school closures, and non-essential retail and hospitality shut-downs have meant that England’s third national lockdown amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hasn’t exactly given us much to cheer about.
But all of the doom and gloom of the past year is what prompted one mother-daughter duo to take their love for all things Christmas and “have a bit of fun while things are crazy”.
Charlotte Barker, 25, and her mum Sharon, 50, – both from Manchester, and both nurses at Manchester Royal Infirmary – are clinging onto the festive season and combatting the new year blues with a project that will see them keep their beloved Christmas tree up all year round, but with a twist.
Instead of the traditional decorations you’d expect to see at Christmas, their tree will take on a new, seasonal theme each month.
The two “tree fairies” have even started an Instagram account – @notjustforchristmas_ – to lift spirits by documenting the beautifully-decorated trees each month, and it’s already picking up new fans from throughout the local community and across the country each day.
While Charlotte and Sharon have plans to continue decorating their tree right through to December of this year, the pair actually got a head-start in 2020 by kicking things off at Halloween.
“We love doing our Christmas tree,” Charlotte told us.
“[We usually] start planning our colours for them six months before Christmas, and we made a Halloween tree for the first time [last year], which we loved”.
But their inspiration actually started a lot sooner than that.
“Since last summer, we were planning a Christmas grotto for my nieces and nephew,” Charlotte continued.
“It was so much fun.
“I played Santa, and my mum and auntie were the elves, [and] that’s what give us the idea to start the Christmas tree themes each month.”
She continued: “It’s just something fun that we love our doing,
“[And] our tree is a running joke in the family of what we have planned next.”
February’s themed tree has, of course, taken inspiration from the celebration of love itself, Valentine’s Day – with the tree covered head to toe in love hearts, tinsel, and plenty of other themed pink and red decorations – but with another 10 months of the year left to go, what else do they have in store?
“So we have a few ideas lined up,” Charlotte admitted.
“Such as St Patrick’s Day [for March], Easter [for April], and a summer holiday theme [too, but we are] still planning other themes.
“We want to try and do a nurse themed one for National Nurses Day in May too”.
While the pair seem to have plenty of ideas in the pipeline to give their increasing fanbase something to look forward to, they’re always on the look-out for inspiration, with Charlotte adding: “If anyone has ideas for themes, please let us know”.
To take a look at all of the trees so far, show your support, and follow along with Charlotte and Sharon’s journey, head on over to their Instagram here.
And don’t forget to suggest some future themes for them too.
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.
Scott McTominay jokes he’s ‘fuming’ he didn’t score a hat-trick against Chelsea as he reflects on Man United’s mentality
Scott McTominay has joked he’s “fuming” with himself after failing to score a hat-trick in Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Chelsea on Wednesday nightand shed some light on the mentality around Old Trafford.
McTominay starred in the Red Devils’ win over Mauricio Pochettino’s side on a cold night at home, managing to bag a brace with a goal in the first and second half to get his squad over the line, but he himself said he could have had more.
Speaking to MUTV after the game, the 26-year-old said he and the squad knew they needed to drum up a reaction after the Newcastle disappointment, adding that contributing more goals is something he wants to keep working on and insisting that plenty of people back him to do so.
Confessing that his mum, dad and grandad have all been encouraging him to “get in the box” and that he just needs to “believe in [him]self and go for it”, the Scotsman did go on to quip he was “fuming” to not grab a third as he shook his head went on to shake and reveal a wry smile.
Commentator and presenter Stewart Gardner went on to list McTominay’s impressive stats this season, having now scored 14 goals in his last 33 appearances for club and country. A seriously good rate from a midfielder typically entrusted to help link play and break things up in the middle of the park.
Now boasting half a dozen goals and an assist across all competitions so far this campaign, he sits as the club’s leading goalscorer in the Premier League with five finishes to his name — with only Bruno Fernandes having contributed more (five goals and five assists) — he’s genuinely become one of Man United’s main goal threats.
While he recently rubbished talk that he played as a striker regularly coming up through the youth academy, simply having been deployed for the odd game in reality, he has always had a shot on him and it isn’t the first time he’s bagged a winner or a big goal for the Reds. This wasn’t a bad one either:
Chatting with the pundits on Amazon Prime Sport, he reiterated that he could have had “one or two more” on another night and agreed that the performance against Newcastle in the previous fixture was “pretty abysmal”, holding his hands up to admit that it was “no way near good enough”.
Reflecting on the later chance he had to seal the hat-trick towards the end of the game, he said he simply needed to “calm down on the last one”.
As for the mentality to get the result during a difficult period where the club remained under a lot of scrutiny from pundits and fans alike, McTominay went on to say that the manager is responsible for the way they played and some “lighter training sessions to keep energy levels up” definitely helped.
Regardless, he was sure to not get ahead of himself and assured ten Hag‘s team were still taking things a game at a time. You can watch the full highlights from Manchester United vs Chelsea down below: