December is a bit of a crunch time here at Yapp Brothers so I plan to do all of my shopping as locally as possible or on-line. The secret of a stress free festive season lies in prior planning so here is my personal guide to items I recommend as gifts to others or (even better) oneself!
1. I Dress Myself
The 'go to' purveyor of groovy T-Shirts for kids or 'young adults' as they despise to be called; as modelled here by the junior Yapps. They've got impeccable environmentally-friendly credentials to boot and only deploy solvent-free inks. Check them out at: www.idressmyself.co.uk
I bought one of these fiendish spheres for a juvenile acquaintance a couple of Christmases ago and I had hours of fun much to their chagrin. You have to guide a ball bearing around a devilish maze by skill and gravity alone. No batteries or relatives required.
3. Glorious Greek Slippers
If you're stuffed for a gift idea for a loved one, slippers are a fail-safe and unimaginative cliché that may meet with disapproval on the day but will be appreciated for months afterwards. These Hellenic head-turners come from the magnificent Frome 'Independent' market where I'll be doing the bulk of my Christmas shopping next Sunday 7th December. www.thefromeindependent.org.uk
4. Chesil Smokery 'Cold Smoked' Salmon
I hope that if I keep banging on about how delicious Mark Firth's peerless cold smoked salmon is he'll cross my palm with fish. His Dorset-cured salmon knocks all supermarket offerings into the shade. Chez Yapp we enjoy it with scrambled eggs for breakfast or with sour cream and blinis at cocktail hour. They pre-slice it by hand to perfection which saves all-manner of hassle. www.chesilsmokery.com
5. Scrabble™ for iPad by Mattel
How I filled the empty hours before I discovered this 21st Century take on the 20th century's favourite word game I cannot imagine. I like to play against the computer which has an inexhaustible lexicon and, un-sportingly, favours multiple 2 letter combinations yielding improbably high scores. It can, however, be beaten if you find its weak spot - in 'Settings'.
6. Das Boot by Lothar Günther Bucheim
This chilling auto-biographical account of a tour of duty on a U-boat during WWII was a smash hit with my Gentlemen's Literary Association (alright Book Club) earlier in the year. Brilliantly translated by Alfred A. Knopf with a cracking cover illustration by Dan Mogford - the tension between hunters and hunted is played out against a background of sonic pings in this gripping nautical narrative. Just don't read it in the bath!
7. Carhartt™ Watch Cap
Benny from Crossroads has a lot to answer for but these beanies are beauties as modelled by Alfred (Forest Green) and me (Forêt Noire).
8. Norfolk Bronze Turkey
I have one of these on standing order at Stourhead Farm Shop and they never fail to please. It's always the centrepiece of our traditional Christmas dinner. My sister makes the watercress stuffing and bread sauce and we 'devil and pull' any left-overs on Boxing Day as per a medieval recipe revived by the late, great Jane Grigson. www.stourhead.com/shop/farmshop.html
9. Kirsty Almeida – Déja Voodu
I've been a fan of this Gibraltar-raised chantoose ever since I saw her live act a couple of years ago. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't enjoy this upbeat, funky, folky album except perhaps my Dad so I'll definitely be getting him a copy!
10. Crozes Hermitage 2011: Alain Graillot – Magnum
Nothing graces a festive table better than a magnum – they're big and bountiful and you have fewer corks to pull. Alain Graillot's Crozes-Hermitage is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser – brimming with dark Autumnal fruit with cool, granitic undertones it will go down a treat with the turkey and should put a smile on everyone's faces. stage.yapp.co.uk/Wine-List/Rhone-Wines/Crozes-Hermitage-Wines/Crozes-Hermitage--Alain-Graillot-2011/