8 April 2015

Woking Hustings 2015

These are the election hustings for our Parliamentary candidates. If you have any further details please email me at adamcreen@hotmail.com and I will update.

Candidates:
Jonathan Lord (Conservative Party)
Jill Rawling (Labour Party)
Chris Took (Liberal Democrat Party)
Rob Burberry (UK Independence Party)
Martin Robson (Green Party)
Declan Wade (CISTA - Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol)
Ruth Temple (Magna Carta Conservation Party)
Angela Woolford (Evolution Party)

Slimming World Goldsworth Park
7:30pm April 13th
not open to public

Transform Housing & Support
9:30am April 14th
not open to public

Churches for Knaphill
St Hugh of Lincoln RC Church
95 Victoria Road, Knaphill, Woking, Surrey GU21 2AA
8pm Tuesday April 14th
chaired by Peter Smith, a member of Catholic Voices
questions may be emailed to Fr Alexander on sthugh.priest@ntlworld.com

Federation of Small Businesses
WWF Living Planet Centre, Rufford House, Brewery Road, Woking, Surrey GU21 4LL
6pm Thursday April 16th
chaired by Mark Carter of BBC Radio Surrey
Free tickets can be booked at http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/15007-16042015-election-debate-thursday-16th-april-2015-tickets-15995047618
Refreshments provided

Churches Together in Woking
Christ Church, Jubilee Square, Woking, Surrey GU21 6YG
8pm Thursday April 23rd
questions may be emailed to admin@christchurchwoking.org

Woking College
12pm April 24th
not open to public

Woking Chamber of Commerce, Woking News & Mail, and Eagle Radio
H G Wells Centre, Woking
7pm Friday May 1st
chaired by News & Mail's Philip Davies
questions may be emailed to editor@wokingnewsandmail.org

14 February 2015

Brussels Travel Guide (with Bruges Bonus)


Hotel:

Crowne Plaza "Le Palace"
http://www.ihg.com/crowneplaza/hotels/gb/en/brussels/brube/hoteldetail
at Rogier station, less than 10 minutes from Brussel Noord and 10 minutes walk to city centre

Radisson Blu "EU"
next door to European Parliament, 5 minute walk to Troon Metro station, 15 minute walk to city centre

Tourist Information:

BIP, Koningstraat, Place Royale
10am-6pm

Brussels Card:

free admission to 30 museums in and around Brussels
free use of public transport in Brussels (MIVB/STIB)
Brussels card 24 H : 22.00 €
Brussels card 48 H : 29.00 €
Brussels card 72 H : 35.00 €

Eating:

Tout Bon
68 Rue du Luxembourg, Quartier Leopold
fantastic breakfast café with vast range of breads
near hotel and EU Parliament

Mer de Nord (Noordzee) fishmongers and open-air café
Place Ste Catherine and Rue Luxembourg

Chez Leon, 18 Rue des Bouchers
famous Brussels eaterie, portions are massive and décor a must-see

Exki
buffet-style salad bar and healthy food cafés at 15 locations

Restaurant Portofino
Rue de Luxembourg 60
family-run Italian restaurant near hotel and EU Parliament

Sights:

listing all the museums on the Brussels Card and more

Coudenberg, Place des Palais (enter through BELvue)
underground palace dating from 12th Century, with mass of archaeological features. see Brussels from below!

Old England Department Store & Musical Instruments Museum
10am-5pm, not Monday, rooftop café

Musee D’Art Moderne, Place Royale

Hotel de Ville and tower

Visit Place Poelaert for a magnificent view over the roofs of the city
Take the glass lift down to Marolles

Vieux Marche aux Puces, Place du Jeu de Balle, Marolles
open air market, 7am to 2pm

Tintin Shop, 13 Rue de la Colline

Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee, 20 Rue des Sables
10am-6pm, not Monday
a museum about comics? well, with Tintin on hand, what’s not to love!

Cathedral

Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Rue de la Régence

Carillon Clock, Mont des Arts
with figures that appear, and lots of symbolic decoration

Atomium
site of the 1958 Universal Exhibition, you can go inside and explore the history and the architecture, and see views over the city.


Bruges Bonus:

When travelling Eurostar, you can select "Any Belgian Station" which is nominally around £10 extra each way, but can often be cheaper if the best "Brussels" direct tickets have gone. If you are in Eurostar Standard Premier, then you can travel First Class on Belgian trains.

Bruges is only an hour from Brussels, and is an easy change at Brussels Midi. It's a pretty, compact, tourist-oriented city, with enough to make a 2-day stay worthwhile.

Get a €20 Museum Pass, rather than a €46 City Card, especially in winter when there are no free boat trips and some attractions are closed. The best museums covered by the Pass are the Folklore Museum, the Hospital Museums (two of those), the Belfry (366 steps), the Archives, the City Hall, the Archaeology Museum (very good for children, best we've seen), and the Onze Lieve church.

Other paid-for attractions that are worthwhile include the Holy Blood Church on Burg, but not the Historium or the Chip Museum.
And for free, visit the Cathedral, and the outside of the Beguinage.

From the station, buses cost €3 (one zone) and you can catch numbers 1, 3, 4, 6, 11, 13, 14 or 16 to Markt. Much cheaper than a taxi. Or if on a day trip, it's only a 10 minute walk.

Eating:

Du Phare http://www.duphare.be/
Take a pleasant walkpast the windmills on the eastern canal and Du Phare is at the northern lock. Great croquettes, steaks, pasta dishes, and many Belgian specialities.

The Olive Tree http://www.theolivetree-brugge.com/
Just off Markt, this Mediterranean restaurant is pricey but has excellent food and service, and plenty of it. A sign of how it's rated so highly is that it is fully booked every night, no walk-ins! So pop in the night before to reserve, or call 050.33.00.81

31 December 2014

Poland Travel Guide

This is slightly different to our usual guides, as it covers 4 different cities, and only scratches the surface of Poland. We have one overall tip:


These travel guides are invaluable when travelling in Eastern Europe. They are written by English people and do exactly what we try to in our guides – tell you the real facts. Even better, they are free, and available as booklets, maps, websites and smartphone apps. We wouldn’t have had such an easy time without them.

Other general tips:

Things are very cheap in Poland. Change your pounds to złoty before you go (it’s about 5 zł to the £). All shops accept debit and credit cards and there are plenty of ATMs around. Tipping isn’t compulsory but you would round up for taxis and add up to 10% for restaurants. Have plenty of room in your baggage for souvenirs.

Travel

Flights:
From Heathrow, you can fly BA or LOT to Warsaw
LOT uses Warsaw as a hub to most other Polish airports, but unless you’re pushed for time, train or bus are much nicer ways to see the country. LOT does not offer free drinks or meals.
From Stansted, Ryanair offer flights to 11 Polish cities
From Gatwick, Easyjet flies to Krakow
From Luton, Wizz Air flies to 7 Polish cities

Train travel:
As usual, the only site you need to visit is www.seat61.com
We booked all of our trains through http://www.intercity.pl/en/
First class is hardly more than standard class, and seat reservations are now included in your ticket price
You can print out tickets as PDFs before you go, and booking more than 7 days in advance gets you a discount. Don’t worry if you haven’t though, for most trains you can hop on board without a ticket and get one from the conductor for a small supplement.


Warsaw

People often seem quite down on Warsaw, and as capitals go, it’s no Paris or Berlin. But it has plenty of different districts and easy travel by metro, bus or tram.

Airport: Head right out of the terminal to a set of escalators leading down to the rail platforms. Unhelpfully there are several companies and each has their own ticket machine (a bit like at Gatwick). Choose the cheapest single fare you can find, and you can use any train. Ticket machines do give English instructions, but aren’t clear as to your options. You must ensure that you validate your ticket. On some trains you do this at the driver’s door, on others there are lots of machines. To disembark, some trains stop at Warsaw Central, others at Warsaw Srodmiescie. They’re next to each other, but all in all, it’s an unhelpful start to your Polish holiday.
Alternatively you can take buses 148, 175, 188 or 331.

Hotel: the advantage of Polish prices is somewhere like the 5* Intercontinental is ridiculously affordable. £90 will get you a high-floor executive room with Club Lounge access. This means free breakfast, free drinks all day, and free dinner. You’ll only need to buy your own lunch!
Intercontinental Warsaw, Emilii Plater Street 49
Phone: 00 48 22 3288888

Tourist Information:
Palace of Culture and Science, pl. Defilad 1
(entrance from Emilii Plater Street, between Kongresowa Hall and Museum of Technology)

Sightseeing:

Palace of Science and Culture, 9am to 8pm
Technical Museum, Cinema, view from 30th floor, 20 złoty
This monstrous edifice was built on Stalin’s orders, so most Poles hate it, but it’s impressive nonetheless. The view is said to be the best in Warsaw, as it’s the only place where the Palace isn’t on the skyline!

Łazienki Park
They have free Chopin concerts on Sundays at 12pm and 4pm

Old & New Towns: Since the 1940s and 1950s saw the destruction of many of Warsaw’s old buildings, the Old Town is relatively new! Essentially it’s all fake, except for the Rynek, numbers 34 and 36, which are genuine facades. It’s still the most picturesque part of the city to visit, other than the palaces.

We suffered from Poland’s occasional torrential rain, so rather than being stuck indoors all day, we used CitySightseeing Warsaw buses to get around. At 60 zł for 24 hours and 80 zł for 48 hours, it’s not cheap, but they run all the way from Łazienki in the south to the Old Town in the north.
Be warned, there is no bus at 2pm so don’t get stuck somewhere for 2 hours!
Also available: www.city-tour.com.pl/en

Shopping:

Tarasy Złote shopping mall near the station – 200 shops and restaurants

Nowy Swiat and Krakowskie Przedmiescie form a long shopping street running north-south

Cepelia, Hala Mirowska – for crafts and gifts

Bolesławiec pottery – we bought ours at the Ceramika gift shop, Freta 14 in the Old Town

If you’re after DVDs or electronics (NOT much cheaper than elsewhere in Europe, sadly) try branches of Empik, Saturn, MediaMarkt


Łódź

Once Poland’s second-largest city, the fortunes of Łodz have been affected by the death of its textile industry. However a renaissance of development, with Manufaktura (“Central Europe’s largest shopping mall”) completed and the main street Piotrkowska pedestrianised and prettified, means it’s a lovely place to spend a day just strolling. Less than 2 hours by car or train from Warsaw, it would be an easy daytrip.

Hotel: the Holiday Inn is brand new, with spacious rooms, a nice bar, and a good breakfast selection. It’s only a short taxi ride from the station.
Holiday Inn, Piotrkowska 229
Phone: 00 48 42 2082000

Tourist Information: Piotrkowska 87

Sightseeing:

Just walking the 2 miles along Piotrkowska is all you need – with palaces, tenements, statues old and new, churches, memorials, and Hollywood-style stars in the pavement reflecting the Film School that is still here. Especially moving is the tiled part of the street where every family living in Łodz at the Millennium has been given a plaque. And just keep looking up at all of the buildings – every one has a story.

The White Factory, a textile museum showing the development of the city and its trade, and many examples of the factory’s work over the past 200 years. It features Łodz’s first textile machine imported from Manchester, and also wooden buildings from the 19th century.
Piotrkowska 282

Church of St Stanisław, a 103m-high steeple tops this brightly coloured church. Built on the site of the Factory Market Square, opposite the White Factory.

Eating:

The warehouse district has been comprehensively redeveloped, with artists’ studios, bars and cafes. We would recommend Społdzielnia for massive sandwiches and milkshakes that come in their own milkbottle.
“Off Piotrkowska” is at number 138 Piotrkowska just north of Piłsudskiego

Shopping:

Cepelia has branches at Piotrkowska 115, Stary Rynek 1, and Manufaktura
Central is a Soviet-era department store that still has a traditional layout (and what feels like 1980s goods) – Piotrkowska 165 at junction with Aleja Adama Mickiewicza
Manufaktura shopping mall – 300 stores, and a museum about the site, Muzeum Fabryki


Wrocław

Hotel: for a cheap but pleasant stay, right in the centre of town but only 3 tram stops from the station, the Mercure Panorama is ideal. Catch trams 9 or 11 north to Galeria Dominikanska. It’s next to a shopping centre with supermarket, and a stone’s throw from the Rynek.
pl. Dominikanski 1
Phone: 00 48 71 3232700

Tourist information: Wrocław has many shops that pretend to be Tourist Information centres, but are simply there to sell you souvenirs. The genuine ones are at the railway station, and on the Rynek south of the fountain.

Sightseeing:

Rynek: one of the largest market squares in Europe

Ratusz: free to visit, it tells the history of the running of the city, with ceremonial rooms, displays of silverware, and temporary art exhibitions.

Ostrow Tumski: one of the many islands to the north of the city centre, Cathedral Island has many historic buildings and the twin-spired cathedral of John the Baptist.

Panorama Racławicka: A circular painting 114m long around the inside of a purpose-built museum. Painted in 1894 it tells the story of a battle 100 years earlier in which Poland defeated Russia.

Eating:

In the Rynek is the best pierogi restaurant in town, Pierogarnie Stary Młyn

Shopping:

Hala Targowa: a market hall the size of a cathedral, destroyed in WW2 and rebuilt, featuring a colourful array of fruit, flowers and other groceries. Prices are dirt cheap and it’s a great place to stock up on goodies for a packed lunch.

Renoma, Swidnicka 40, while the outside of this mall reflects the long history of the building (completed 1930), inside has the usual chain fashion stores.

Galeria Dominikanska: the largest shopping mall in the city, with shops and restaurants.


Krakow

With a compact old town centre, surrounded by a belt of green, Krakow would be the perfect historical place to explore, if it wasn’t for the tourists! Be prepared for large groups, and long queues. Having said that, as soon as you head away from the Rynek, the quieter streets are well worth an explore.

Airport: this is currently being rebuilt, which means it is a dreadful mess. The terminals are hot and filled with insects, and there is minimal seating space or amenities.
To get from the city to the airport, the buses leave from the central bus station, a long walk from the railway station. You then have to go to the lower level, turn right, and find the stops for 208 and 292. Both take a ridiculously long time.
There is also a faster Airport bus that leaves from Pawia Street.

Hotel: the Holiday Inn is a hotel of two halves. The modern building looks like every other chain hotel, but if you are able to get a room in the original building, it will have much more character. Service is very good. Catch trams 10 or 52 from the south side of the plaza outside the shopping centre, not next to the west entrance.
Holiday Inn, Wielopole 4
Phone: 00 48 12 6190000

Tourist Information: there are kiosks and bureaux all over town, with a small but efficient one in the railway station.

Tours: you will be accosted on the street by people offering rides in their electric carts, trips to Auschwitz, the Salt Mines, or the Jewish Ghetto. Your hotel will also offer to book you on coach trips out of town. It is perfectly possible to see all of these things cheaply making your own arrangements. If you do go on an organised tour, you may get a pick-up from your hotel

Sightseeing:

Historical Museum, Rynek Głowny 35

Wawel Castle

Wieliczka Salt Mines
135 zł for an escorted coach from your hotel (about £54 for 2 people)
80 zł if you get your own transport there (about £32 for 2 people)
You can catch a train, take the bus, or a minivan runs from Krakow railway station

Kasimierz & Podgorze Jewish districts
Galicia Jewish Museum, Dajwor 18
Old Synagogue Museum, Szeroka 24
Oskar Schindler’s Factory, Lipowa 4

Nowa Huta: a Stalinist New Town from the 1950s with brutalist architecture
Cepelix gift shop – look up at the ceiling! 10am to 1pm
Nowa Huta Museum
Stylowa restaurant

Eating:

Zapiecek, 24-hour pierogi restaurant, friendly and cheap, Slawkowska 32

Antler, Burgers and Poutine, Golebia 10

Shopping:

Cloth Hall in Rynek – small Cepelia stall
Station – Wedel chocolate shop
Dekor Art, Sławkowska 11; Mila, Sławkowska 14
Galeria Krakowska, by railway station, 3 floors of shopping heaven

Plac Nowy, antique market and old market hall


24 December 2014

24th December 2014

Well, here we are at the end of another Advent Calendar. We hope you've enjoyed the pictures, and music, and anniversary memorabilia along the way. How better to finish than with a memento of Christmas Eve 1864, in a printed copy of "A Visit From St Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore. This was produced by Louis Prang, based in Massachusetts, and known as the Father of the American Christmas Card.

You can see the full-size one at SuperItch.



Wishing you, your family and friends, a very happy and peaceful Christmas, AND a visit from St Nicholas!

Adam and Sarah 
xx

23 December 2014

23rd December 2014

Nearly there! We thought you'd enjoy hearing some Christmas jingles - these are from friend of the Advent Calendar, top educationalist, gifted author and average headteacher Geoff Barton. He's collected jingles from an early age and loves the close harmonies and perky pop of these mini-melodies. For Christmas he's loaded a new one every day and you can hear them all here!

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24

And here's Geoff's life story in a jingle!


Follow him at @RealGeoffBarton and his website is at geoffbarton.co.uk

22 December 2014

22nd December 2014

So exciting that we have so many friends celebrating their baby's first Christmas - our little nephew Finlay Pearce, our god-daughter Beatrice Brookes, and baby Beatrice Creen in Canada, to name but three.

We were tickled by these cartoons from Kate Beaton, a Canadian cartoonist, all about "King Baby". Her website is at: www.harkavagrant.com where she also does adaptations of medieval woodcuts and satirical cartoons about Jane Austen characters. Check her out!







21 December 2014

21st December 2014

Here's just the thing to wash away the stress and nastiness of modern life. It's Princess Estelle, Duchess of Östergötland, and her parents Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, from the Swedish Royal family.


Every Christmas, they release an official video and they are all so adorable.

Here's 2013:


20 December 2014

20th December 2014

Our third and final Saturday on the calendar takes us all the way back to 1864. This is the year that Christ Church, Ottershaw was founded by Sir Edward Colebrooke, and we have had a year of celebrations and commemorations.

So when looking for an 1864 theme for today, I was astounded to find this:
Cinderella, or, Harlequin and the Magic Pumpkin, and the Great Fairy of the Little Glass Slipper: A Pantomime written by the Brothers Grinn. 
London: Published and sold in the [Royal English Opera] Theatre, [1864]. First performed Monday, 26 December 1864. 
Cast: Hobgoblin, a discontented Demon who lives by himself and won't give up his Hermit for any quantity of spirits (Mr. Lingham); Papillion, a Fairy who's "beautiful as a Butterfly" (Miss Craven); Prince Ugolino, who has carried out the direction "laugh and grow fat" (Mr. E. Danvers); Grimguffin, his Private Tutor (Mr. Naylor); The Baron Pumpolino (Mr. W. H. Payne); Pedro, his head man and foot-man (Mr. F. Payne). Thisbe and Clotilda, the Baron's haughty daughters (Mademoiselle Parkinu and Douglasoni); Cinderella, the youngest daughter (Miss Clara Denvil); Squaretoso, the Grand Chamberlain (Mr. Dixon); Herald, with a solo on his own trumpet (Mr. Blowhard); Harlequin (Mr. Fred Payne); Columbine (Mademoiselle Esther); Clown (Mr. Harry Payne), Pantaloon (Mr. Paul Herring).
This is the first recorded pantomime version of Cinderella, which is, according to A. E. Wilson in 1949:
[Cinderella] is the most popular of the pantomimes. In 1948 alone, there were 37 different Cinderella productions in England.
And THIS is a photo of Clara Denvil, from the V&A Photography Collection:


Bonus beats:
  • W. S. Gilbert (of Gilbert & Sullivan fame) went to a London pantomime rehearsal on 10th December 1864
  • Bradford's Theatre Royal originally opened as the Alexandra Theatre on Monday the 26th of December 1864 with the pantomime 'All That Glitters is not Gold'.
  • Lewis Carroll's illustrator Tenniel produced the Punch's Pocket Book in 1864:



19 December 2014

19th December 2014

So many reasons to get that Friday feeling ... less than a week to Christmas, payday (for some), last day of term (for many), and it's nearly the weekend!

So kick back and chill to this power ballad version of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" from Rosie Thomas, her Christmas album was one of Rolling Stone's top 40 albums for the Christmas season:



18 December 2014

18th December 2014

More nativities: here's an update to one of the best, the 2010 Sausage Nativity. Everyone thought there was only one photo of it on the web. But here's a rare unreleased close-up of the Wise Men:



And we only found out about this today - it's the world's largest nativity, with 1000 people taking part!

17 December 2014

17th December 2014

Imagine a jigsaw made of 1000 pieces and 1000 colours. Using CMYK colour codes, the creators have made a challenging but ultimately beautiful picture. Watch the video at the link here.


16 December 2014

16th December 2014

Apologies to the 22 of you who tried and failed to see yesterday's calendar (web scripting error) and well done to the 3 who just changed the web address to '15' (sneaky hacker's trick for you there).

We've always been a fan of Percy Pig and his tasty sweets, now you can celebrate the season with this stylish Percy jumper with sparkling detailing. There's also a video you can watch at http://www.marksandspencer.com/percy-pig-jumper/p/p22336527 I think the thing we're most impressed about is that M&S managed to get Penelope Cruz to do the modelling.


15 December 2014

15th December 2014

BC:AD
by U.A. Fanthorpe (born 1929)

This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future's
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.

This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.

This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.

And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect
Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.

14 December 2014

13 December 2014

13th December 2014

Another Saturday, another anniversary. Last week we looked at the Radio Times from 1964, today it's 1914. While the Christmas focus has been on the battlefield football, there's a wealth of information about what was happening back home. First though, here's a 100 year old version of A Christmas Carol. No Muppets, no music. You'll just have to make up your own:



Anyway, back to the war at home. In his book, The Fateful Year: England 1914, Mark Bostridge describes how:
...the celebration of Christmas was considered a patriotic duty, the only concession to the war, now four months old, being the replacement of tinsel and paper chains with strings of brightly coloured allied flags. In London, the West End was thronged. In the suburbs, poulterers fairly bulged with geese and turkeys; happily, the cost of Christmas dinner would be only a touch more expensive than in peacetime. All the same, those who went out, baskets on arms, couldn't help but notice that this wasn't any old Christmas. According to the writer Katherine Mansfield, on Oxford Street the shop windows were filled with "khaki and wool and pots of Vaseline and marching socks". More poignantly, the department stores had baskets prominently on display into which shoppers could drop gifts for "Our Men at the Front". Among the more popular presents for soldiers were "tinder lighters with their natty little plaited rope and striker" and – oh, how the heart aches to read this! – "waterproof squares for trench seats".
Another story of the time I find fascinating is how paranoia led people to suspect German spies were everywhere:
The next delusion was that of the grateful German and the Tubes. The commonest form of the story was that an English nurse had brought a German officer back from the door of death, and that in a burst of gratitude he said at parting, “I must not tell you more, but beware of the Tubes in April (1915).” As time wore on the date was shifted forward month by month, to September, when it died of expectation deferred. We took the trouble to trace this story from mouth to mouth until we reached the second mistress in a London Board School. She declared that she had had it from the charwoman who cleaned the school, but that lady stoutly denied that she had ever told so ridiculous a story.
This early urban myth is from Chapter 4 of Basil Thomson's book about his work in the Police and Secret Service, and you can read lots more about popular delusions in my blogpost here.


12 December 2014

12th December 2014

This weekend sees the first of Adam's 5 carol services and concerts he's playing the organ in. The tunes from each have been going round in his head, even in his sleep, and the current winner is a beautiful anthem by John Rutter we are singing at ChristChurch Woking at 5pm and 7.30pm on Sunday. Do come along!



But who invited the monkey? And why is the host wearing a 1950s toupée? Oh, he's French :-)

Bonus track: another one we're doing is a little track I like to call "Mary, with the benefit of 2000 years of hindsight and theological interpretation, did you know your baby would be able to walk on water and annoy Richard Dawkins?"

11 December 2014

11th December 2014

It's time for a round-up of nativity scenes we have spotted in real life and on the web.

Who can fail to be charmed by this scene in an Southend shop window?


Meanwhile, Playmobil seem to get further away from the true meaning of Christmas:


OK, to be honest, that's an Advent Calendar, not a nativity. But it's still not very Christmassy. Try this one:

Let us know if you have spotted a nativity scene, good or bad!

10 December 2014

10th December 2014

Have you chosen what you are going to wear on Christmas Day yet? There seems to be a trend this year for taking traditional Christmas jumper patterns and putting them on all sorts of things.

So if you are getting a new bike for Christmas, why not try this:
on sale at RedBear

To add a touch of festive flair, why not wear:

available from Shinesty

And to help make your baby part of the decorations, knit them this:

pattern at Crochetville

Thanks to Miriam & Peter for the suggestion!

8 December 2014

9th December 2014

Where do you imagine the Capital of Christmas is? Lapland? Bethlehem?
Perhaps if we called it "Capitale de Noël" that might be a clue...

In fact, it is the beautiful city of Strasbourg, nestling in north-east France on the border with Germany. This year they are marketing themselves as the Capital of Christmas, and in addition to their usual beautiful architecture, storks, and European Institutions, they also have a range of Christmas markets.



Our friend Manuel and his family are our favourite Strasbourgeois and we had the pleasure of visiting them in April this year. We first met "on the internet" sharing our love of IKEA soft toys.



One thing that caught our eye on the Christmas website is that they are having a Belgian market. Waffles! Speculoos! Of course, but we hadn't come across cuberdons before. These are purple, cone-shaped, raspberry-flavoured candy with a liquid centre. We really will have to seek them out the next time we are Benelux-bound.



For more tourist information, check out our Strasbourg and our Brussels travel guides.

7 December 2014

8th December 2014

Thanks to Adam's father who came up with our first guest contribution to the Calendar - you too can suggest something you'd like to see by emailing adamcreen@hotmail.com or leaving a comment below.




In 2009 a large-scale recreation of the Mona Lisa was made with a staggering 3,604 cups of coffee, and 564 pints of milk. Measuring 20ft by13ft – nearly ten times the size of Leonardo da Vinci’s original masterpiece - it took eight people three hours to complete. It was created for The Rocks Aroma Festival in Sydney, Australia, and was seen by 130,000 people who attended the one-day coffee-lovers’ event.

6 December 2014

7th December 2014

It was weird for Advent Sunday to actually be in November before anyone had opened their Advent Calendar. Today is officially Advent 2, and many churches are having their Christingles today. Here an army of Christingles is massing to take over the world:




Photo by Graham @ramtopsgrum who I knew 20 years ago on teacher training, and who then popped up again organising the #notgb40 hashtag for Greenbelt absentees last summer. Thanks Graham!

In case you don't know what a Christingle is, here's the song:


A Christingle Song (Tune: Give me oil in my lamp) 
The Christingle begins with an orange, telling us of the world God made.
For creation is full of his glory; all around we see his love displayed. 
Sing Christingle! Sing Christingle! Sing Christingle, it’s the light of Christ.
Sing Christingle! Sing Christingle! Sing Christingle, light of Christ. 

Every year we give thanks for the seasons, and the fruits of the earth to share.
The Christingle is here to remind us that the love of God is everywhere.
Sing Christingle...
God of love, we give thanks now for Jesus; we remember his birth again.
But the red ribbon round the Christingle tells the story of his cross and pain.
Sing Christingle... 
To complete the Christingle: a candle, shining out in the darkest night.
Jesus promised to lead us and guide us; come and celebrate the world’s true light!
Sing Christingle...

6th December 2014

This year the Calendar is all about anniversaries, so let us take you back to 1964. The amazing website Genome has been launched by the BBC to catalogue its archive, including old Radio Times. So 50 years ago here's what the Christmas Day schedule looked like ... Penguins! The Great War! Welsh Singing! Repeats! Disney Time!

9.15: THE BRAVE LITTLE TAILOR
A German film based on a story by the Brothers Grimm 
Commentary by Johnny Morris

9.50: WELCOME CHRISTMAS!
Words and music for this Festive morn with IVOR EMMANUEL, JACQUELINE DELMAN, OWEN BRANNIGAN and CY GRANT 
BBC Midland Light Orchestra Leader, JAMES HUTCHEON 
Producer: Reg Perrin
Produced By: Philip Lewis

10.30: The World of the Penguin
Whether they breed on Antarctic ice or African sand, the penguin's true home is the sea. Master swimmers, they cannot fly, yet some travel miles inland. Sometimes comic, sometimes graceful, to millions they are the most fascinating birds in the world.
Commentary written and spoken by Alan Gibson
Research by John Sparkes
Film editor, Betty Block
Produced by Christopher Parsons

11.15: CHRISTMAS MORNING SERVICE
from BLOOMSBURY CENTRAL BAPTIST CHURCH 
Preacher, Dr. Howard Williams 
Organist, GERALD BARNES , F.R.C.O. 
Television presentation by Innes Lloyd

12.00: LESLIE CROWTHER
invites you to MEET THE KIDS in hospital at Christmas with Peter Glaze , Harold Taylor and The Bert Hayes Trio 
An Outside Broadcast from the Children's Ward of Hackney Hospital, London 
Produced by Robin SCOTT 
Leslie Crowther is appearing In Tbe Black and White Minstrel Show ' at the Victoria Palace. London

12.45: HOB Y DERI DANDO
What does it mean? Does it matter? 
Sing it out, loud and clear, with a group of singers from Bangor, North Wales 
Meredydd Evans introduces Ivor Emmanuel and The Proclaimers 
Joining in the fun are some young people from Anglesey and Caernarvonshire 
Producer, MEREDYDD EVANS 
Directed by RUTH PRICE

13.30: TEMPLE HOUSTON
A Western film series starring JEFF HUNTER as the young Texas lawyer who finds action and adventure in his fight for individual rights and frontier justice

14.20: PINKY AND PERKY
in Christmas Pig-tale with JIMMY THOMPSON as Asst. General, P.P.C.T.V. 
Presented by JAN and VLASTA DALIBOR 
We Belong Together words and music by NORMAN NEWELL and ALYN AINSWORTH 
Written by ROBERT GRAY Design by Stuart Furber 
Produced by STAN PARKINSON 
From the North of England

14.30: COMPACT
A series by HAZEL ADAIR and PETER LING 
A Surprise for Christmas 
Camilla has a surprise, Ian has a warning, everybody has a party, and David has a shock 
Script by ROSEMARY ANNE SISSON 
Film sequences made with the co operation of the staff and children of Dr. Barnardo's Homes 
Directed by MICHAEL FERGUSON

15.00: THE QUEEN

15.05: BILLY SMART'S CIRCUS
A special performance for Europe from the ring of the world's largest tenting circus 
Frank Bough behind the bars of the big cage introduces 

16.10: DISNEY TIME
Julie Andrews introduces this year's Walt Disney programme with the emphasis on comedy
Films by courtesy of Walt Disney
Presented by Richard Evans

17.10: NEWS HEADLINES followed by ROBERT DOUGALL
who appeals for The Royal National Institute for the Deaf 

17.15: ROBINSON CRUSOE
starring NORMAN WISDOM 
Book by HARRY BRIGHT 
Adapted for television by EDDIE LESLIE and LEN LOWE 

19.15: Christmas Night with the Stars

20.45: LAUGHTER FROM THE WHITEHALL
BRIAN RIX presents 
Simple Spymen by JOHN CHAPMAN 
Directed by WALLACE DOUGLAS 

22.15: THE NEWS

22.25: THE GREAT WAR
A twenty-six-part history 
PART 11: Hell cannot be so terrible 
Written by ALISTAIR HORNE and GORDON WATKINS with the voices of SIR MICHAEL REDGRAVE as Narrator 

23.05: MEXICAN FIESTA
The Ballet Folklorico of Mexico in a programme of Latin-American folk dance 
Choreography by AMALIA HERNANDEZ 
First transmission on July 31
Producer: Patricia Foy

23.45: POSTSCRIPT TO CHRISTMAS DAY
with The Rev. R. T. Brooks

23.50: THE WEATHER: Close Down


5 December 2014

5th December 2014

Two Advent Calendar traditions today - posting late so everyone up before 6am complains, and putting on a great music video for Friday - play it in the office and turn it up LOUD! It's Belle & Sebastian...


3 December 2014

4th December 2014

If you haven't got yourself an Advent Calendar yet, don't worry, it's not too late. For only £12,000 Harrods will sell you this little beauty:


It's a doll's house, made by Wedgwood, with 24 windows that open up to reveal:


Read more in this Daily Mail article:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2855776/The-12K-Christmas-Advent-House-porcelain-ornament-window-despite-staggering-12-000-price-tag-isn-t-chocolate.html

The most amusing thing is that the Mail makes 2 glaring mathematical errors. See if you can spot them both!