Ten Tips for the Christmas Cheeseboard

I love cheese at the best of times but at Christmas it’s a must have! Judging by the popularity of the current competition to win a Vintage Organic Cheddar round from Godminster I think it’s safe to say that most of you love cheese too, so you’ll love this Guest Post from cheese expert Juliet Harbutt and Port Salut.Christmas Cheeseboard-(low-res)

Ten Tips for the Christmas Cheeseboard

End your Christmas dinner in style this festive season and earn yourself a reputation for creating a truly memorable cheeseboard with the help of Port Salut and cheese expert Juliet Harbutt. Here are her top ten tips for pulling together a show-stopping centre piece this Christmas:

• A slate or marble cheeseboard is great for creating a lasting impression

• Avoid dressing with grapes and instead decorate your cheeseboard with a few autumnal leaves or sprigs of holly for a festive feel

• Ideally a cheeseboard should have 5 – 10 magnificent cheeses, preferably at least one from each of the seven categories and at least one goat or ewe

• Offer a range of shapes – logs, wedges, cylinders, squares – and cut blocks of cheese into different shapes for an attractive finish

• Order your Stilton weeks in advance, as you would a turkey and ideally buy cheeses you have tasted and had cut at the deli from the original cheese. Buy your soft pre-packed cheeses as near to their best before date as possible for the best taste

• Before serving ensure all the cheeses have come to room temperature – a slither will take 5 minutes and whole Brie will take at least an hour so best to serve similar sized portions

• Avoid very brittle or strong flavoured biscuits as they can overpower the cheese; instead serve with oat cakes or rustic breads that allow you to experience the full texture and tastes of the cheese

• The accompaniments should complement not over power your cheeses, so try pickled walnuts, savoury (not over sweet) or spicy chutney, nuts, dried fruit or fresh apples or pears

• As well as wine, beer & cider also go very well with most types of cheese so encourage guests to have fun experimenting with their pairings

• Ideally store your cheese in a larder otherwise keep them refrigerated in a sealed plastic box, wrapped in their original wrapping or greaseproof paper

For more helpful tips: 

Visit the Port Salut website at www.portsalut.co.uk for Juliet’s downloadable cheese guide, listing all her cheese recommendations for the perfect Christmas board.

Guest Post: Family Trips Free of Car Sickness


With the party season fast approaching many of us will find ourselves travelling to see family and friends, with this in mind today’s guest post from the Sainsbury’s Money Matters team is sure to come in handy.

Family trips free of car sickness

Not many of us look forward to a long car journey, but if you or the kids are prone to nausea on the move, it can make even relatively short trips total torture.

Feeling or being sick as the result of a car journey is a form of motion sickness. It occurs due to a conflict in what you’re seeing and feeling – your eyes see that you’re sitting still and the car interior appears static, so the car’s small movements and the changing view confuse your brain, upsetting your inner ear.

It’s particularly common in children, but they often grow out of it.

However old the sufferer, here are a few tips that can help promote a sick-free ride:

Firstly, don’t have a big meal or anything too rich just before a long journey, as this can make nausea more likely – and avoid alcohol.

Ginger root is a great stomach settler, so to ensure your tummy is tiptop before a trip, take a ginger capsule, available at chemists and health stores, or sip ginger tea.

Alternatively, some people find peppermint or fresh mint settles the stomach, so try mint tea too.
Need something stronger than tea? Then pop to a pharmacy and grab some motion sickness medicine. Make sure you take it at the recommended time prior to getting in the car, as it tends to be preventative rather than curative.

Be aware that travel sick medication often causes tiredness, so if you intend to drive, go for a non-drowsy formula.

Alternatively, try an acupressure wristband, which is said to both prevent and alleviate nausea.
Before you set off, ensure the car is free of smells that might unsettle the stomach. If you or other passengers start to feel sick mid-route, the smell of musty air, air freshener, perfume or food may well make the symptoms worse. Ventilate your vehicle and spray a fresh lemony or minty fragrance.
En route, one of the best ways to avert and alleviate car sickness is to look at the horizon. Gazing out the window will allow your brain to realise that you’re moving, while focusing on an object in the distance will ensure your brain’s not too disorientated. For this reason car sickness-prone passengers should sit at the front as there’s a larger window, but you may need to disable the airbag for a child.

If a child has to sit in the rear, play games that require him or her to look outside, such as counting the number of yellow cars that pass.

Adults who tend to get travel sick could consider driving, as drivers rarely suffer motion sickness – perhaps because they’re always looking ahead.

There are a few things that will make the symptoms of car sickness even worse, so make sure you don’t focus on fixed objects if you get carsick as this is disorientating, and avoid reading anything. If you need to look at directions or a map, pull over. Equally, watching films and playing console games are out, as the moving images only confuse your brain more.

Instead, listen to books on CD or sing along to music. This will help to drown out thoughts of nausea, too. One of the easiest ways to block out such thoughts is to sleep. Even if you don’t manage to doze off, closing your eyes will stop you concentrating on static objects.

If queasiness does set in, eat ginger biscuits or try mint or lemon sweets – all popular remedies with children. You could also sip on a supply of ginger or mint tea. Wind down the window too for some fresh air, and take slow, deep breaths.

Of course, regular breaks are vital, especially if you’re driving down windy country lanes. If this is the case, ask the driver to take the bends slowly and encourage him or her to drive smoothly so that you don’t speed up and then slow down too much.

Another thing that’s sure to make you feel sick is not having adequate car insurance in the event of a car accident. So be sure to check your insurance policy covers all your needs.

Author Bio:
Tara Nathanson writes for Sainsbury’s Bank Money Matters blog on a range of topics including car insurance, car safety and other motoring topics. In her spare time she likes going to the cinema and doing yoga and Zumba classes, and at weekends she likes hanging out with her six-year-old son.

Guest Post – Inspiration for a rainy Sunday afternoon

For most of us the last couple of days have been fairly good weather wise. However on the whole this summer with it’s abundance of rain has been less than inspiring, but fear not today’s guest post courtesy of Tesco provides some rainy day ideas sure to please even the most ardent of sun worshipers!

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.”
― Roger Miller

Sunday afternoons are the only time I get to spend with my hubby since he works on Friday and Saturday nights. So even if it’s raining and other people are curling up on the sofa with a pot of tea and a good book, Sunday for me is more of a date day!

Even if you don’t have my motivation to do something this weekend – and opening the curtains to grey clouds can be a bit depressing – read through this little list of rainy day diversions before you break out that paperback.

1. Cook Something New

Some of my favourite Sunday afternoons have been spent elbows-deep in flour with my face covered in chocolate. Even if you’re a mediocre cook (like me), having someone who is willing to try new recipes and scoff the fruits of your labour at the end of it is a great way to while away the hours.

2. Turn on the Oldies
I only recently saw Casablanca, and what a movie! They knew how to do romance in those days. If the weather’s looking grey, invite some friends over and host a movie marathon, but opt for something no one has seen, Dr Stangelove, Some Like it Hot and The Day the Earth Stood Still are some of my favourites.

3. Volunteer Babysit

There are many parents who would love to have a Sunday to spend with their feet up. Single parents in particular seldom get the chance to catch a movie or lunchtime date with a friend. Volunteer a couple of hours and bring some stickers, coloured paper, gel pens or whatever you have lying around and you might be surprised how much fun it is being back in kindergarten!