For the past couple of years I have had the good fortune to spend my time either working from my home office (involving a hefty 10 second commute from my bed to my desk) or from Berlin. Pretty nice, eh.

Strangely enough, I always found it necessary to fly over to Berlin and meet my colleagues for some very urgent face-to-face meetings in early December. 

And the fact that the hotel where I always stay is situated immediately opposite the prettiest Christmas market in Berlin? Completely unconnected, of course:-)

Welcome to Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt...

Viewed from above, it's a sea of pristine tents, each decorated with a single warmly glowing star, and presided over by a huge Christmas tree.

The shops (you can't really call them stalls) are immaculately edged with twinkling fairy lights, and draped with red and green fabrics.

Hungry? How about a sit-down meal in a heated restaurant, with fine china and waiter service...

Thirsty? How about a glass of bubbles (yes, that's a bottle of Veuve on the counter) or a warming mug of Gluhwein...

You can buy wooden toys:

As much cheese as you can stagger home with:


Fairy lights made from flowers and shells:

And beautiful wooden boards:

Yes, the Berlin Christmas markets are a thoroughly classy affair. Having said that, being a northener born and bred, I will always retain a soft spot for the Manchester Christmas markets, where if you don't come home soaked in beer, with a sore stomach from attempting to eat something from every single food stall, and an empty wallet from having paid £5 for a small bratwurst, then you're just Not Doing It Properly.