Monday, 16 December 2013

Notes on a Grubbies Christmas...Sugar cookies and Grubbies Christmas countdown

Note 17: Sugar cookies

Until fairly recently I wasn't entirely sure what a sugar cookie was (compared to any other kind of sugary cookie you might choose to bake). I now know that they are those pale as pale, slightly shortbready biscuits that provide the perfect platform for clever bakers to show off their sugar craft. Sugar cookies don't spread on the tray. They hold their shape and look pretty much the same when they come out of the oven than before they went in. This makes them ideal for cookie cutting with children. In recent years, sugar cookies have been right up there with mince pies and gingerbread as a Christmas baking tradition in our house.

I don't yet have a go-to recipe. The recipe I used this year was from the US blogger, Glory Albin of Glorious Treats which worked well, although I did have to add some milk as the mixture was too crumbly to roll out. Possibly our local eggs aren't as big as the ones in California.*

Glory’s blog, like much of Pinterest in December, is awash with Christmas sugar cookie ideas that will either inspire you or leave you terrified. For example:

You probably already know whether you are capable of such transcendence. I wasn’t prepared to have an embarrassing Pinterest fail so close to Christmas and we did something rather more child and idiot-proof.

The cookies on this occasion were for a charity cinema night that we helped my little girl organise for the local hospice who looked after her Granny last year. The selected film was Barbie: A Perfect Christmas. It doesn’t come recommended by me, but its themes of Christmas magic, spoilt orphans, sisterhood and pop stars seems to be a favourite with five and six year olds. The guests traded in their purchased tickets for not particularly festive popcorn and hotdogs, but the centrepiece was this tree (picked up for peanuts) adorned with our glittered Barbie-pink cookie baubles. We’re not a very pink family as a general rule, but I have to admit it did look rather pretty.

* I confess I often look across the Pond for baking recipes. No offence to our homegrown bloggers, but my rather slapdash approach to baking generally leads me to prefer the American way of cooking with cups and spoons rather than painstakingly weighing everything out.

Note 18: Grubbies Christmas Countdown continues

Today is the second day of the Grubbies Christmas countdown. Order today and get 15% off everything you buy, plus free P&P on all UK orders. Just use discount code "Twinkle15" at checkoutOffer expires midnight tonight (Tuesday).

Don't forget that Thursday 19th is the last shopping day for guaranteed Christmas delivery.

Photo credits: Turquoise and reindeer: Tasty Food Snacks; Pastel snowflakes: Glorious Treats; Red and white: A Blog for This and That

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Notes on a Grubbies Christmas...Gingerbread, Christmas music and Grubbies Christmas countdown

Note 14: Gingerbread

Do you bake at Christmas?

Never mind mince pies and Christmas cake, it's the gingerbread and sugar cookies that the children in our house get most excited about at Christmas. Gingerbread men are one of our family's festive traditions. The children love eating them and I love how they fill the house fills with that spicy gingery, wintery smell. I have a recurring daydream that one year (one year) I will attempt a homemade (no kit) gingerbread house and invite over a crowd of nicely behaved and grateful children to help decorate it with smarties and jelly tots. 

But we're not in that league yet. In fact, this Note was intended to lament my annual battle to bake halfway acceptable gingerbread men. More than once, they have merged into one blob in the oven (one year I even resorted to re-cutting them after baking which was a bit desperate and predictably unsuccessful). More usually, they come out strangely bloated. And while puffiness isn't necessarily fatal for gingerbread men (you can always put a Santa hat on them), my dreamed-of cottage will presumably require a bit more consistency and structural integrity.

But, right on cue, this batch and came out of the oven looking perfectly golden and man-shaped and tasted like they smelled, spicy and syrupy perfection. It is then with more confidence that we can share our go-to family gingerbread recipe.*

You will need:

12oz (340g) plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsps ground ginger (Or as much as the children will let you get away with. Buy a new one. The one left over from last Christmas won’t taste of anything no matter how much you pile in.)
4oz (112g) butter (We use unsalted but you could experiment if not for children.)
6oz (170g) light muscovado sugar
4 tbsps golden syrup (Try heating the spoon on the gas ring before plunging it into the pretty can. It makes a satisfying noise and syrup slips off easily.)
1 egg beaten


Pre-heat oven to 190c/Gas 5. Lightly grease baking tray(s) or line with baking parchment.

Mix flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in the sugar. Add the syrup and egg and mix until you get a dough. This can take a while, so don’t lose heart. Use your hands.

Roll them out on a floured surface not too thick and not too thin. As  a guide, the original recipe says 5mm. Put in the top of the oven and watch for them to turn golden brown (10-12 minutes).

* The recipe is originally from the fabulous Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book. Obviously there is nothing inconsistent or structurally unsound about the recipe (as opposed to the baker).

Note 15:  New Christmas soundtrack

I baked these gingerbread men wearing an Anthropolgie apron and listening to my favourite new Christmas album, which may have contributed to their success. The Grubbies office has spent much of December listening to the same soundtrack, A Very She and Him Christmas. She and Him is the collaboration between the folk artist M. Ward and the generally talented and beautiful Zooey Deschanel and their Christmas album is all sugary nostalgia and angelic voices.  Time "A Christmas Wish" for the bit when the tray goes in the oven and the house starts to fill with gingery promise.

Note 16: The Grubbies Christmas Countdown

Today marks the start of the Grubbies Christmas countdown. As a gift for all our twinkly customers, we are offering a discount on every shopping day until Christmas but don't think too long about it. The faster you shop, the more you save:

Monday, 16 December: Use discount code "Twinkle20" for 20% off your whole order and free UK delivery. Offer expires midnight Monday.

Tuesday, 17 December: Use discount code "Twinkle15" for 15% off your whole order and free UK deliveryOffer expires midnight Tuesday.

Wednesday, 18 December: Use discount code "Twinkle10" for 10% off your whole order and free UK delivery. Offer expires midnight Thursday, 19th.

Remember that Thursday 19th is the last shopping day for guaranteed Christmas delivery.

Merry Monday!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Notes on a Grubbies Christmas...Nativity Sets for children and our cool as Christmas Outlaws

Note 12: Child-friendly nativity sets

If you’ve been following our Christmas Notes, you’ll already have met this chap, El Caganar. He sits alongside beautifully crafted nativity figures gathered over the years from all over Europe. It’s a “look don’t touch” type of Nativity set that children (and one day grandchildren) will gaze at in awe.

For little hands though, a more child-friendly nativity set will help them learn the Christmas story (if you want them to) through play. Here are our favourites:

Fair trade children’s nativity set by Lanka Kade

This atmospehric hand painted, mdf nativity is robust enough for staging your own nativity play. Unlike a lot of children’s sets, the characters are not childlike and all the main players are there, including two pretty angels and some cheerful animals. Baby Jesus and the crib are separately carved and children will enjoy taking him in and out of his manger. £20.95 from Tickety-Boo

Nativity nesting dolls by Ingela P Arrhenius for OMM Design

Children love nesting dolls and these ones will be a colourful addition to a stocking for Christmas morning play. Durable resin plastic and cheerful retro design by Swedish illustrator, Ingela P Arrhenius, they will have a place in your Christmas decoration box years after the children lose interest. £19 from (the brilliant) The Kid Who

Carddies Nativity Set

We have long been big fans of Carddies (I can’t remember the last children’s party where we didn’t give Carddies). Ideal for travel or rainy afternoons, this set has 12 hand drawn characters for colouring front and back, a stable scene and great colouring pencils. Beautiful quality; we have never seen our children colour so carefully as when they have a box of Carddies. We also love that, like Grubbies, Carddies are a family business and made in Britain. Stocking filler perfection. £8.99 from Carddies through Amazon 

Note 13: The Outlaws

Another Christmas gift for you. Until tomorrow, get 15% off Grubbies Outlaws, our baggy fit, low slung dungarees which are built for adventure and make little boys and girls look as cool as Christmas. Choose from toffee or poppy red piping and back pocket embroidery and enter the code "Outlaws15" at the Grubbies shop. Don't forget, there is free P&P on all UK orders until Christmas.

Merry Friday!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Notes on a Grubbies Christmas...Santaphobia, a refreshing Nativity and the Gummies

Note 9: Santaphobia*

Are your children frightened of Father Christmas?

We’ve had a few bust-ups with Jolly St. Nick over the years. We did the obligatory grotto visit when our eldest daughter was about to turn one. She howled; I tried desperately to catch a decent photo. Year two, she appeared genuinely excited as we queued on Southend-on-Sea pier to see Santa.**  But as soon as the Elf called her name, she inhaled deeply and then threw herself at me screaming, genuinely terrified. Dear old Santa even stepped outside his grotto to say a gentle hello but it didn’t help. She briefly recovered long enough to accept the offered gift (“Aged 2-3, Girl” – don’t blame ELC, it starts in Lapland) but was visibly shaking when I strapped her in the car. I felt dreadful.

First trip to Santa's Grotto. One for the family album.
The following year, she refused to let me put her stocking in her room and we agreed to hang it on her door. She had always been a very careful child and, quite reasonably, she decided she did not like the idea of a large, bearded stranger creeping around her room when she slept. Perhaps that is why some families (is it an American thing?) hang stockings over the fireplace (or radiator) rather than in bedrooms.

Our daughter is now five. I really, really hope she believes in Father Christmas and I assume, if only because she’s five, that she must. But, and I admit this very tentatively, neither of our children seem quite as excited about a visit from St. Nicholas as I remember being. I don’t know what it is. A friend has the theory that these lucky, lucky children of ours are capable of less wonder than the generations before them. They are Disneyed and wowed out. That same friend just got back from one of those glitzy Lapland long weekends and was disappointed to observe that the main event, the audience with the Big Man, fell a little flat with anyone under 30. In fact, when asked for the highlight of the chilly weekend, her three year old said, “Seeing a reindeer”. Her five year old offered, “Beating Mum at Connect 4”.***

Still not entirely sure.
Santaphobia, as it turns out, is not unusual. offers some helpful tips to keep your children happy long enough to capture the prize grotto photo. If that seems a bit like unnecessary torture, then perhaps keep your family Santa tradition a bit more arm’s length. If you haven’t found it already (and we’re sure you have), Portable North Pole is a brilliant way to bring the grotto to your home and it had the children completely fooled. Or, just write him a letter. I'm afraid you’ve missed the early December deadline for the Royal Mail’s charming reply service (Santa needs time to reply to the 800,000 British children who write to him every year) and similar services offered by charities including the NSPCC and RNIB. We don’t tend to get round to Santa letters until much nearer Christmas in our house, but in any event, the children don’t expect a reply. The real excitement comes on Christmas morning when you find out whether your letter made it to the North Pole, whether you've been too naughty or just nice enough and, more importantly, whether your wished for toy was "in stock".

Note 10: The Nativity Play II

Since writing our previous note on the trials and triumphs of The Nativity Play, I was reminded about the refreshing approach taken by a little local pre-school where one of the Grubbies clan used to go.  
Theirs was an entirely child-led Christmas production. Children chose their own parts resulting in two Marys, a four year old Baby Jesus (wearing trendy onesie pyjamas) and just the one king. If they didn't like the suggested costume, they just wore whatever they fancied. There were a few hiccups - Baby Jesus tried to open one of the offerings and had to be reminded he was only a baby. The Innkeeper, when asked if he had a stable instead of a room said "Sorry, no, I absolutely haven't got a stable either". After the Nativity, the children each took to the stage and sung a song or did the sort of expressive, interpretive dances that only three and four year olds can do. It may have been a less polished performance than those we are treated to at big school, but I bet the parents and children will treasure the memory for many years.

The Innkeeper/Narrator/Soloist in his favourite outfit waits for his big moment.
Note 11: The Gummies

Today's Christmas present is 15% off our snuggly, jersey-lined, beautifully-soft Gummies, perfect for the tiniest boys and girls wriggling to escape from Santa. This year you can choose a festive poppy red zip (extra long for emergency exits to save fiddling with poppers). Use discount code "Gummies15" at check-out until tomorrow (13 December). Like Santa, P&P on UK Grubbies orders is free until Christmas.

*Probably not a word.

** I have no idea if the same Father Christmas still mans the grotto on Southend-on-Sea pier but in case you are down that way, the one we met was a fabulously authentic model, all silvery hair, bona fide beard, rouged cheeks and deep, kindly voice.

*** Speaking very personally, I never fancied the idea of transporting the family to Lapland to meet Santa in the flesh. If you are tempted, then Sophie Butler over at the Telegraph is an authority on the subject.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Notes on a Grubbies Christmas...Holiday Bauble Shopping and Grubbies Originals

Note 7: Buying baubles on holiday

Do you buy baubles when you go on holiday?

Ever since I bought this bauble (Amsterdam, 1980), I have bought a Christmas decoration as a souvenir of every holiday.

In the height of summer, in the most un-Christmassy places, there are decorations to be found and so we can't be the only ones. Did you know for example you can buy Buddhist monk baubles in Thailand? Well, there we go.

All children love unpacking decorations in December and remembering what went on the tree last year. With holiday baubles, as the children grow up, Christmas tree decorating becomes a session of happy "Oh look, do you remember whens".

The habit gives a purpose to souvenir hunting when on holiday and, importantly, permits you to buy those types of souvenirs you wouldn't otherwise be inclined to clutter your house with (the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, the Provencal donkey).

If you are a fellow bauble shopper, can I politely suggest you visit Naples some year soon. In Naples, we discovered, the local artisans specialise in nativity figures. This little chap is El Caganer, a traditional feature of the nativity scene in Spain and was a present from a Spanish au pair who rightly assumed that two young boys would find it hysterical. 

El Caganer, to the best of my understanding, roughly translates as "The Crapper". Charming. If you are interested in learning more, can we direct you to Wikipedia which very helpfully provides no less than fourteen "possible reasons for placing a figure representing a person in the act of excreting waste in a scene which is widely considered holy". Every year he takes his place near our crib (France), alongside the crippled beggar (Italy), the camels (Turkey) and the praying children (Portugal).

Of course, once added to the results of the children’s craft sessions and inherited baubles fondly remembered from childhood, you end up with a rather uncoordinated, yet beautiful and personal, tree, simply dripping with memories.

Note 8: Grubbies Originals

Today's twinkly offer is for our Grubbies Originals, the ideal tree decorating attire for helpful little boys and girls. Beautifully made and built to last, our Originals are simply the perfect denim dungarees just like you used to wear. They are fabulously cool and cosy over our long-sleeved tees teamed with a chunky Christmas cardi cardi or just your best friend. Now available with festive poppy red piping and embroidered pockets. You have until tomorrow to get 20% off our Originals (and free P&P until Christmas). Use the code "Originals20" at checkout.

Merry Wednesday!

Monday, 9 December 2013

Notes on a Grubbies Christmas...the Nativity Play, the Christmas Bookshelf and Kerchiefs straight out of the Wild West

Note 4: The Nativity Play

Were you ever Mary? You'd probably remember if you were. All those children gathered round looking on with envy as wise men and shepherds lay gifts at your feet, the tallest boy in the class rests his arm on your shoulder and you get to sit really, really close to the baby doll.

Yasmin Alibhai Brown wrote in the Independent this week that, unless you had flaxen hair and fair skin as a child, you probably didn't get a plum role like Mary and Joseph. You were more likely to be the second innkeeper or the back end of a donkey. And the more I think about the various nativity plays I've watched over the years, the more I think Yasmin is right. As lovely as all the Marys have been, I can't think of one that was a non-blonde, which I should have thought, for a Galilean Jew, was quite unusual. I might also observe grumpily, that like a bride at her wedding, Mary is generally mute and it's down to Jo to confidently make the hotel arrangements.

And perhaps there is a problem with primary schools in December. Mary, Angel Gabriel and the Narrators have a month of centre stage and glorification. Plenty of other children sit bored round the edges, grateful only that spelling and numeracy appear to have been forgotten for the time being. I always have a quiet admiration for the bored, disinterested children in school plays. There is a hint of stubborn rebellion in their yawns and infernal fiddling.

And, I only recently found out, many of the boys feel acute horror at wearing a dress. It genuinely never occurred to me that four and five year old boys would be upset by their biblical tunics. In our school it wasn't so bad for the reception class who put on the Nativity. But the whole of my daughter's class was cast as the "Night Sky" and girls and boys alike were allocated a long navy silk "tunic" and a sequinned blue bolero. My daughter couldn't believe her luck. Many of the boys came in that morning in tears.

Yet, however you're cast, the Nativity Play is an abiding memory for most of us. I admire wholeheartedly the attempts of brave primary schools trying to do something a little different, but it's difficult to beat the tears and tea towels of the traditional Nativity.

Note 5: The Christmas Bookshelf

One of our family's favourite Christmas books, The Nativity Play, captures its subject to perfection.* Tracy, the angel, feels beautiful in her sheet and halo but wonders why she doesn't have a magic wand. The other angels torture their audience with their recorders. One of the shepherds waves at his Dad. It's a subtly witty little picture book that young children will love and identify with at this time of year.

This year we have found another Nativity bedtime treat in Nicholas Allen's Jesus' Christmas Party, the story of a grumpy Innkeeper struggling to sleep as a parade of visitors, a blinding light and an exulting angelic chorus descend on his outhouse. Nicholas Allen wrote almost all of my children's favourite books which, with titles like Father Christmas Needs a Wee, The Queen's Knickers and Cinderella's Bum, may say something about my children.

Note 6: Our retro Western Kerchiefs

Whatever happened to the Cowboy Carol? It was the hands down favourite when I was at school and even had the back end of the donkey joining in. Our "Wild Horses" and "Coyote" kerchiefs are the perfect stocking fillers for spirited cowboys and little girls who are bored of mermaids and princesses. Illustrated, printed and hand sewn in Great Britain, they feature quirky, perfectly vintage designs by children's book illustrator, Marion Lindsay. You have until midnight tomorrow (Wednesday, 11 December) to get 15% off any of our Kerchiefs (and with free P&P on all UK orders until Christmas). When shopping, use the discount code "Kerchief15" to grab your Christmassy discount.

* The Nativty Play incidentally is by Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen who need no introduction (Kipper, Wibbly Pig, Percy the Parkeeper). Mick Inkpen also wrote Lullbyhullabaloo, which you don't often hear mentioned, but which is one of the very best children's books we own.

Photo credits:  Nativity cartoon by 

Notes on a Grubbies Christmas...Advent calendars, the Radio Times and the Prairie dress

Note 1: Advent Calendars

Children love the slow build of Christmas. So much of the magic is in the anticipation. Not the mince pies in Tescos in September. That's just a spoiler. But in our house, from 1 December, we start getting Christmassed.*

It all begins with the advent calendars propped up against the cereal boxes on 1 December. I never cease to be amazed at how exciting our i-padded, i-playered children find opening little numbered windows every morning. It's the first thing they do when they get downstairs and they queue up to show me what Christmassy little picture they have found. [Note that it's a good little learning tool as well. Number recognition practice for the little ones, a neat lesson in perseverance for all ages.]

Of course advent calendars have rather come on since we were young. Nowadays, there are four categories: The Traditional, The Chocolate, The Ostentatious and The Homemade. We've dabbled with all of them but have returned firmly to the first camp (yes I know, humbug). This year we have three on the go, all thoughtful gifts from Great Aunties. Each child has a perfectly vintage little calendar with a nativity scene, glitter and slightly obscure little drawings behind each window. Usually made in Germany, my favourite type of advent calendar. To be found in charity stores and those little Church shops in the City.

And then to share, a giant, beautifully illustrated snowy village scene, where each door and window opened lets you peek inside and see the Christmas goings-on. This was always my favourite type of advent calendar as a child.

I should note that my brothers were more in The Chocolate camp but I can't bring myself to buy one for the girls (yet). It's not that I particularly object to the daily dose of chocolate (although I can think of better breakfasts). It's more that the calendars are usually so boring looking - lazy TV tie-ins, completely lacking in magic (and glitter). And the more doors you open, the more empty plastic moulds you reveal and the more horrible the thing looks.**

The Ostentatious category is admittedly broad. Some very generous parents spend the last weekend in November stocking up on treats and trinkets to hide in beautifully painted wooden boxes or hanging embroidered pockets. There are also those fabulous playmobil and lego options that I can definitely see us trying one year. The closest we've got to this category (although hardly expensive) are the beautiful online calendars by Jacquie Lawson. Every day brings a different animation or game - snowflake making, tree decorating, pelmanism. The artwork and music is Christmassy perfection. I'm tempted to buy one even now and spend a happy half hour opening the first nine windows.

And finally the homemade. For the authority on homemade calendars I'll hand you over to Skin and Blister. Skin and Blister is the clever blogger who came up with #shareadvent but even if you're not a social media butterfly, her idea of having a calendar which gives you a little festive prompt every morning is a brilliant family tradition. You'll see Skin and Blister's beautiful sweet filled calendar and links to see some wonderful creations by other bloggers. This is our version (I confess picture is recycled from last year). Easy as pie (once you were in the swing of it) and a rather handsome addition to the Christmas decorations.

Finally, a funny little conversation I overheard yesterday. "Why hasn't your advent calendar got chocolate in it?" asked a genuinely bemused playdate. "Oh it's much prettier without chocolate", lectured my brainwashed child, "and it's so exciting to see what different picture is there every day. Look, this morning there was a little mouse. In a boot. With some tinsel. It's going to look so beautiful when the doors are all open." Nervous pause and then from the playdate, "Aw, so cute, I really wish I had one like that." 

Note 2: Radio Times

Clearly the new flexibility in TV scheduling is a good thing. We can watch whatever we fancy, whenever we like and pop to the loo at our leisure. Nighttime breastfeeding is vastly improved when catching up with Strictly rather than watching Open University. But these advances have cancelled out a much-loved element of the Christmas build-up. Was it just our family or did you get ridiculously excited about the Radio Times and TV Times arriving on the coffee table? My brothers and I would paw through the pages circling the programmes and films we didn't want to miss. I saw an advertisement for the Radio Times the other day and so it must still exists but in days of Netflix and recordable TV, I can't see my girls getting too excited about what time BBC2 is showing The Snowman.

Note 3: The Prairie

Because we're feeling so Christmassy and because we have such lovely, twinkly customers, we're going to be giving you a little present everyday from now until Christmas. Starting with the Prairie dress, the perfect little pinanore for busy little ladies and ideal for the season layered over cosy tights, warm long-sleeved tees and even woolly jumpers. Now available with a festive poppy red zip. You have until noon tomorrow (Tuesday, 10 December) to get 20% off the Prarie (and free P&P on all orders until Christmas). Just pop over to our Grubbies shop and use the discount code "Prairie20".

Customer Lola shows everyone how to rock a Prairie dress in winter,
*I am perfectly aware that readers of a more self-controlled disposition might take the view that giving a whole month over to Christmas is slightly indulgent. In mitigation, (a) we are usually overseas at Christmas and so need the tree up early if it's going to be worth the bother, (b) it appears that nothing goes on in schools in December aside from Christmas (nativity costume instructions replacing Biff and Chip in book bags) and (c) I just can't help myself, I blooming love Christmas.

**Note, I would be very happy to break with tradition if anyone would like to buy me the Montezuma advent calendar next year. Please.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Brit Pack Christmas Giveaway

We’ve teamed up with 12 wholly British made brands to form ‘The Brit Pack’.  For 12 consecutive days in the lead-up to Christmas, we will be providing the opportunity to WIN delightful children’s products, made with love, here in the Britain.  To enter the competitions, simply follow the simple steps outlined below.  Good luck!  

'On the First Day of Christmas The Brit Pack gave to me...'


'On the Second Day of Christmas The Brit Pack gave to me...'


'On the Third Day of Christmas The Brit Pack gave to me...'


'On the Fourth Day of Christmas The Brit Pack gave to me...'


'On the Fifth Day of Christmas The Brit Pack gave to me...'


'On the Sixth Day of Christmas The Brit Pack gave to me...'


'On the Seventh Day of Christmas The Brit Pack gave to me...'


'On the Eighth Day of Christmas The Brit Pack gave to me...'


'On the Ninth Day of Christmas The Brit Pack gave to me...'


'On the Tenth Day of Christmas The Brit Pack gave to me...'


'On the Eleventh Day of Christmas The Brit Pack gave to me...'


a Rafflecopter giveaway  

'On the Twelth Day of Christmas The Brit Pack gave to me...'


Friday, 8 February 2013

Behind the scenes at Grubbies - Bubble London

You have to be a bit of a time traveller in this industry.

Swing by Grubbies at any time and we're working on (at least) three collections. This month, for example, our Spring/Summer 2013 collection is in the factory; our Autumn/Winter 2013 collection is being previewed to retailers and the press; and design and sampling are well underway for Spring/Summer 2014.

Some weeks it all feels rather like an episode of Quantum Leap. Where are Al and Ziggy when you need them?

A Grubbies designer nervously presents his ideas for Spring/Summer 2028.

Last month, it was off to the future as we took Grubbies' Autumn 2013 range to the Bubble London show. Bubble London, in case you don't know, is our industry's biggest UK trade show. It brings together hundreds of children's fashion and lifestyle brands excitedly (and nervously) unveiling their upcoming collections to discerning journalists, enthusiastic bloggers and super-important (and therefore, it follows, slightly scary) buyers.

Our very orange Bubble stand can be seen glowing from the other side of the expo hall.

A weekend at Bubble is always very busy and completely relentless. What with the nerves, the intimidating competition, the artificial lighting and all that talk about another blinking winter when we're now officially really bored of this one - it's remarkable the experience isn't more dispiriting.

But happily Bubble is a determinedly sunny place to spend a weekend. It's
 creative, friendly and very, very inspiring - numerous fabulous brands always turning out with fresh and impressive new ideas and buyers who are genuinely excited to be figuring out what their stores will look like next season.

Letting people know about Grubbies' Homegrown credentials.

Bubble is particularly brilliant at showcasing the small but determined, tribe of brands who manufacture in the UK (or, in Bubble-speak, the 'Homegrown' brands). That includes Grubbies of course, and also the likes of Immink, Helen Gordon and Beau LOves - each of who showed beautiful new collections that have been magically sewn together by the reportedly dead British manufacturing industry.

Bubble London's Homegrown installation in the making.
Whilst we're on the subject of the future, next Autumn/Winter for Grubbies is all about the British woods, just about our favourite place to hang out, run amok and tell secret, spooky stories. We're relieved to report that our new styles, colours and kerchiefs were all greeted with the enthusiasm we had been fervently hoping for and, in the days following Bubble, we have been happily stumbling across people saying nice things about Grubbies on blogs here, there and everywhere.
Much-loved Marion Lindsay's much-loved designs for Grubbies' AW13 kerchiefs. Swoon.

So, do you like what you see? It's all coming to a shop (and an iPad) near you in the Autumn. Watch this space!

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