24 December 2011

24th December 2011


Happy Christmas from Sarah and Adam!


No, don't be silly, that's not us, that's Kristin and Haakon, the mascots from the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics in Norway. We're really looking forward to the Olympics next year, as you can probably tell, and hope you are too. Until then, we wish all of our readers a very happy Christmas and New Year, and hope you get presents/snow/chocolate/peace (delete as appropriate)!


PS don't forget to enter the competition on 21st December - we have lots of prizes to be won!

23 December 2011

23rd December 2011


When we see the intricacy, size and price of Lego sets nowadays we're always amazed by how simple a time the 1970s were. The Lego people had big heads, you couldn't get green pieces (except baseboards and trees) and models would be as simple as the one above.

This is set 0275-1 (just 275 at the time, but Lego cataloguers are a pernickity bunch) and it came out in 1974. Sarah had it as a child, and can you imagine any child now opening a Christmas present and finding this inside being particularly impressed?

If you would like to see lots more Lego models from the 1970s (and before and since), just visit http://www.brickset.com/browse/

Thanks to Freddycat1 on Flickr for the photo.

22 December 2011

22nd December 2011

Well done to those of you who got up at 5.30am this morning to celebrate the Winter Solstice - it's not always on the 21st Dec you know! The Guardian gives more info as to why it skipped a day this year: When is the winter solstice? Next year is a leap year, so shunts it back to the 21st again.


As the days are now getting longer, we can cheer ourselves up by watching that most wonderful of Christmas films, A Muppet Christmas Carol. And this year, as an extra bonus, there's a deleted scene not on TV or the DVD from its original release, where young Scrooge and his girlfriend Belle are breaking up and she sings a song "When Love Is Gone" about it. It doesn't feature Muppets and is a bit sad, but it's a lovely song, and Michael Caine joins in.


It's analagous to the song by Kate Winslet "What If" from the animated Christmas Carol of 2001, which is also lovely so I've put it below.

21 December 2011

21st December 2011

Competition time! We love to give away prizes on the Advent Calendar - and this year we have a star prize of a DVD of the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony, agreed to be the most spectacular ever seen, as well as lots of secret runner-up prizes.

All you have to do is say which year the following pictograms come from. These are one of Adam's favourite things about the Olympics, along with logos and mascots. They first appeared in their modern form in 1964 Tokyo games, but have been redesigned many times. These three are in date order.





To enter, email the three years (or venues) to adamcreen@hotmail.com and as a tie-break, say which your favourite Olympic mascot is and why. Closing date is December 31st and the answers and winning slogans will appear here in the comments.

20 December 2011

20th December 2011

Here's a great Maths trick that you can do yourself by sticking new numbers on some dice:

Imagine you have a set of 3 dice, red, green and blue. You pick a die and then I pick one. I can guarantee that whichever one you pick, I can choose one where I'm more likely to get a higher number than you when we roll them!



These dice are called NON-TRANSITIVE, which means that even though blue usually beats green, and green usually beats red, red still usually beats blue!

The numbers on the dice are: Blue 3 3 3 3 3 6, Green 2 2 2 5 5 5, Red 1 4 4 4 4 4.

You can work out the probabilities of Blue beating Green etc, they are 21/36, 21/36 and 25/36, so you don't always win, but it's better than 1/2 each time.

These aren't the only dice that this trick works for, here's ace mathmo James Grime to explain some more. You can buy the dice from his website at www.mathsgear.co.uk.


19 December 2011

19th December 2011

First day of the holidays today, so apologies to the 45 of you who tried to look at this page too early in the day. I'll have lots more time to upload them promptly now!

Every year the Christmas Price Index calculates the total cost of all of the gifts from the song "The Twelve Days Of Christmas" (fact fans will know that if you gave the gifts every day they were mentioned, you'd have 12 + 22 + 30 + ... + 12 = 364 gifts, one for every day of the year apart from Christmas Day!)



And this year the index is up 3.5%. This is quite high, mainly because the cost of swans (one of the most expensive item) is up!



18 December 2011

18th December 2011


Only one week to go until Christmas, it doesn't seem long at all. We're hoping for snow, but even if we don't get it, it's really frosty so wrap up warm out there! Sarah will be sporting a new pair of earmuffs this year which will make her the envy of Old Woking. Adam will be wearing his most snug (and expensive) coat, the famous Buffy Boots. 

If you haven't already got a Carol Service to go to today, you're very welcome at the two that Adam is playing at:
Christ Church Ottershaw (link) at 4pm
ChristChurch Woking (link) at 7pm

Here's Rutter's Nativity Carol to get you in the mood:

17 December 2011

17th December 2011


This year's must-have tree decoration are these tiny Moomin mugs from Finland. They don't look tiny in the picture but seriously, dolls at a dolls' teaparty would complain that they looked like espresso cups. Every year Arabia (a pottery) and Iittala (a homewares firm) produce a special Moomin collectors cup, and have gone for the ones you see here this year.

You can get them from our favourite Scandinavian store, Skandium, which has 4 branches in London. We also got there a tiny penguin decoration (who looks just like Pingu) and a Penguin Donkey. But when we went to Finland last year we visited the Arabia factory and Iittala outlet store and got LOADS of pottery and glassware to give our home a Scandinavian feel!

16 December 2011

16th December 2011


photo by skl1983 on Flickr

A snowy picture of the Apollo Pavilion in Peterlee, which has just been given Grade II* listed status, joining other fantastic structures like the Middlesborough Transporter Bridge, Battersea Power Station and Trellick Tower.

Built in 1955, it was designed by Victor Pasmore, and instantly divided opinion, with its fiercely abstract Brutalist structure. After years of decay, it was recently renovated and we visited it on our last tour of the North.

We also want to remember a much-loved friend, who didn't achieve listed status and was demolished last year. Trinity Car Park Gateshead RIP:


15 December 2011

15th December 2011


The Beatbox Nativity is a video written and produced by part-time vicar and beatboxer Gavin Tyte (aka TyTe). His beatbox nativity is becoming a seasonal staple and turned into something of a cult hit when he published his first version last year. He has been beat-boxing since the age of eight and was a professional musician before being ordained. The nativity rap combines his two loves — beat-boxing and the Bible.

14 December 2011

14th December 2011

Quick quiz for you today! In celebration of next year's Olympics, can you name the famous medal winners pictured below? To make it more fun, they have been represented in knitted form! These are taken from a new book, Knitlympics. Answers will be in the comments tomorrow.







13 December 2011

13th December 2011


You've never seen a nativity quite like this before. It's called 'Colour Nativity' and it's designed by Sebastian Bergne, 7 wooden blocks in a box, that when arranged is instantly recognisable as a nativity scene. This was such a hit that it's already sold out, but you can see it and more of Sebastian's work at www.buysebastianbergne.com

12 December 2011

12th December 2011

Thanks to our friends Peter and Miriam for suggesting this great video of a nativity song!


Let us know if you've found any other good Christmas videos!

11 December 2011

11th December 2011


If seeing the St Pancras tree hasn't inspired you (or your kids) to make your own Lego tree yet, here's another fantastic tree that the Design Museum has commissioned to give you ideas. Giles Miller works in cardboard, and has made the world's largest cardboard Christmas tree (below) as well as smaller versions you can play with yourself. Each of the branches rotates so you can make many different styles of tree (above).


photo by Luke Hayes


10 December 2011

10th December 2011

Today's guest post is by our friend @maxnugget:





My eight year old niece Robyn and I made snow globes at the weekend. While we were glittering and gluing Robyn told me that Christmas is her favourite time of year because you see robins everywhere. I asked her if she liked being called Robyn and she said she loved it and that it was lucky because her parents nearly called her Honor when she was born. She said at least this way she's never had to worry about deciding what her favourite bird is.

She was delighted to be making presents out of jam jars and other bits and pieces, and in the end we made ten which she'd allocated to friends and relatives and teachers before the glue was even dry. Only when she'd finished did she realise she hadn't made one for herself, so I made her a special robin snowglobe yesterday evening. I hope she'll be thrilled to get a jam jar for Christmas.

9 December 2011

9th December 2011

Step 1: remove all advertising flyers
Step 2: pull out the Holidays section in the middle
Step 3: reach for highlighter pen ...



(click on the pictures for MONSTER-sized versions!)

That's my weekend taken care of then!

8 December 2011

8th December 2011




In 2001, I had a website. It was pretty rudimentary but I was probably the only person my friends knew who had a website of their own. I did blogging before blogging existed, and started the Advent Calendar when most companies didn't even have a web presence. Why am I reminiscing like this? Because my favourite page on my website was called Bad Place Jokes. And what do we love to get in crackers? Really Bad Jokes. So here it is ... from 10 years ago ...


B A D   P L A C E   J O K E S

NOT BY ADAM CREEN

- - - -

My wife's gone to the West Indies
Jamaica?
No, she went of her own accord.


My wife's gone to Northern Italy
Genoa?
I should think so, we've been married for 20 years.


My wife's had an accident on a volcano
Krakatoa?
No. She broke her leg.


My wife's gone mad in Venezuela
Caracas?
Yes, absolutely loopy


My wife's gone to the botanical gardens
Kew?
Yes, it was rather busy.


My wife's gone to Malawi
Lilongwe?
Yes, about 5000 miles


My wife's got an upset tummy in Laos
Inkhazi?
Yes, constantly.


My wife's gone to see relatives in France
Nice?
Yes, and her cousin


My wife's gone on a singing tour of South Korea
Seoul?
No, R&B


My wife caught a cold in the Gulf
Qatar?
Yes, she was coughing up phlegm for weeks


My wife went to a very bad concert in South East Asia
Singapore?
Yes, but the drummer is fantastic.


My wife's just been on a day trip to Poole
In Dorset?
Yes, she'd recommend it to anyone.


I sent my wife to the East Indies
Jakarta?
No, I sent her on a plane.


My wife's gone to Cyprus
Nicosia?
No, she's taken them with her.


I sent my wife to Illinois
Chicago?
No, as a passenger.

7 December 2011

7th December 2011


We always love a good Venn diagram, and it's been a few years since the Internet rash of graphs and charts illustrating songs and jokes. Here's a new one from Stephen Wildish, which you can buy on a Christmas card.

And here is the pie chart I did as the Creen Christmas card in 2007 - can you work out what it means?


6 December 2011

6th December 2011


Make the most of it, Wenlock and Mandeville are only going to appear once on this Advent Calendar, unless you can come up with some even worse memorabilia than this. As the weirdest and ugliest Olympic mascots you have ever seen, and also the most commercially exploited, there's no place for them in the panoply of much-loved mascots of yesteryear.

These two tree decorations are £25 each. If you're feeling that rich, why not give £50 to Shelter or Crisis? Or you can buy the decorations here.

6th December 2011


Make the most of it, Wenlock and Mandeville are only going to appear once on this Advent Calendar, unless you can come up with some even worse memorabilia than this. As the weirdest and ugliest Olympic mascots you have ever seen, and also the most commercially exploited, there's no place for them in the panoply of much-loved mascots of yesteryear.

These two tree decorations are £25 each. If you're feeling that rich, why not give £50 to Shelter or Crisis? Or you can buy the decorations here.

5 December 2011

5th December 2011


We love visiting Scandinavia, and we love visiting Scandinavian food shops in London. Our favourites are Nordic Bakery in Golden Square, Fika on Brick Lane, and Scandinavian Kitchen on Great Titchfield Street.

The last of these is selling decorate-it-yourself gingerbread houses: they have a blog post with some of the best ones. The News Quiz team from Radio 4 made the one above, with the house turned into a radio, and there's even a graphic equalizer at the front door, a plug, and a life-size minature Sandi Toksvig.

You can order online, or head down there, to buy all your Scandi food treats!

4 December 2011

4th December 2011





Our tree is up, so today we're going to start putting on all the decorations! We're always looking out for non-traditional baubles (who could forget the Starbucks cups, and the space pod from 2001?).


To get you into the Christmas spirit, GIANTmicrobes have produced five favourite mini microbes dressed up for the holidays: Dust Mite with antlers and a red nose, Red Blood Cell sprinkled with snowflakes, Salmonella decked out with festive holly, Penicillin decorated with colorful ornaments, and an exclusive Green Amoeba bundled up in a red scarf and ear muffs.


Microbes are a very important part of Christmas, especially in Christmas food (though hopefully not salmonella!) Follow this link to read about: The Microbes of Christmas.

3 December 2011

3rd December 2011

Yesterday my school was kind enough to give everyone a day off to go Christmas shopping, so Sarah and I went up to London to go Christmas tree spotting! The best tree we saw was in St Pancras station. It is the tallest tree ever made out of Lego in the world - 38 feet tall, made of 600,000 bricks! It was put together by the company Bright Bricks, who also have some great photos on their blog. Here's ours:




We're buying and decorating our tree today! So look out for more tree photos, including some of the other trees we saw in London. Have a great weekend!

2 December 2011

2nd December 2011

We're always on the lookout for fantastic nativity sets. Over the years we've found Playmobil, cats, and last year's sausage extravaganza! Well, 2011 seems to have become the year of the Zombie, so here's a fab little nativity set we found on Etsy.


Let us know if there's any nativity sets you've seen that we could feature. It'll never beat the cats, though!