25 December 2008

25th December

Happy Christmas!

love from Adam & Sarah

24 December 2008

24th December

Our theme for this year's Christmas card is Polaroid. 80 years after Edwin Land got his first patent for developing instant photos, the Polaroid company have ceased production of film for their cameras. While Save Polaroid campaigns to find a new manufacturer, we present these images in memory of Christmas past.

23 December 2008

23rd December

Clearing the decks (with boughs of holly):
Here are all the other photos that didn't make it in before the 24th.
Thanks to Karen & Alan for this tasty Pandoro cake which we polished off at our Christmas drinks
A fat jolly old man ... and Santa
IKEA's rocking moose ...
... and a rocking Dala horse

22 December 2008

22nd December

Our church held its carol services yesterday and today, the one chance I get each year to hammer out some good tunes on its organ, which is coming up to its 100th anniversary next year. As well as the traditional numbers, our worship pastor Martin led the band and choir in renditions of 'A Christmas Offering' and a very gospelly 'Joy to the World'.
It's strange to think that so many of the carols that people regard as really traditional have only been popular since the 60s and 70s, when David Willcocks and his team did new arrangements for the 'Carols for Choirs' series, a standard that supplanted all other publications. Universally used by choirs worldwide, the harmonies and descants that we love to hear and sing were almost all created for these books.
People almost get offended when a carol service doesn't include their own favourite. This month the BBC Music Magazine had the results of a poll into choir leaders' favourite carol. The results were:
1. In the Bleak Midwinter
2. In Dulci Jubilo
3. A Spotless Rose
4. Bethlehem Down
5. Lully, Lulla
6. Tomorrow Shall be My Dancing Day
7. There is No Rose
8. O Come All Ye Faithful
9. Of the Father's Heart Begotten
10. What Sweeter Music
I'm guessing that you couldn't sing at least 5 of these, and indeed the comments page on the BBC website had people like Tim Rogers saying "Christmas without 'Ding dong! merrily on high' is like a game of football without the ball."
So which Christmas carols (or songs) can't you do without? I have to hear Mike Oldfield's In Dulci Jubilo at least once, and Anne Dudley's version of The Holly and the Ivy is something I'm still trying to play on the organ. How about you?

21 December 2008

21st December

Our local shopping centre has had a change from its usual Santa's Grotto. Instead it has a selection of animatronic Eskimos decorating a Christmas tree outside their igloo. Children are encouraged to throw copper coins at the penguins. Shopping there yesterday was brisk, with people fighting over the tat in Poundland and the 60% off items in Woolworths (where a sign by the tills warned customers against verbally or physically abusing their staff, after a spate of bargain-hunters swearing at the assistants because the discounts aren't deep enough).

20 December 2008

20th December

The last in our Saturday series of presents you would prefer to re-gift before unwrapping them! We found these in our new Poundland Christmas Store, a shop so cheap it makes Woolworths look upmarket.
Pet gifts are always a treat (who can forget the cat cracker of a few years ago) and any dog would surely look 'adorable' in a Santa cape.
Tenuous movie tie-in household cleaning products are hard to come by, so hopefully the HSM3 kitchen roll will encourage the youth of today to mop up any spills of Sunny D they make.
And the mini Henry will vacuum your keyboard for you, powered by only 2 AA batteries. And so easy to clean!
Fortunately none of these are the prize in our competition!

19 December 2008

19th December

We're big fans of fan art, where afficionados of a pop combo or TV sleb draw what they fondly imagine is a pencil homage to the object of their adoration. We're also fans of the portrait sketchers who line the streets of major cities offering at a high price what is, at best, a grotesque caricature of your family member.

So here's our competition for this year: name the actors who appear in this beautiful rendition, snapped in Spitalfields Market, and as a tie-break, say how much you would be prepared to pay for it. The person who gets the answer closest to Sarah's valuation wins an exclusive seasonal gift. Bonus prizes for anyone who emails their own drawing of a celebrity!

Send your entries to: adamcreen@hotmail.com

18 December 2008

18th December

It was only last week that we were saying how this advent calendar is ahead of the trends, using funky pie charts a whole year before the zeitgeist. We nearly came a cropper this year because Adam thought he'd spotted a growing trend that would do very well for both the calendar and the limited edition Christmas card. But by the beginning of December we realised that what had seemed like a good idea had already become a cliche. Of course we mean the craze for matryoshka, or Russian dolls. You can't move on the high street for doll teatowels, ornaments, mugs, purses, etc. So this is our one token contribution to the wave of sameness.
Our photo is of a fab German market on London's South Bank, where one stall was just heaving with Russian dolls of every shape and size.

17 December 2008

17th December

Christmas wouldn't be the same without A Muppet Christmas Carol. But of course the story of Scrooge is a staple of the TV scheduler's armoury.
Here are some of the best and funniest adaptations, most of which are on TV this Christmas.

Scrooge (1951), starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge
Scrooge (1970), a musical film adaptation starring Albert Finney as Scrooge and Alec Guinness as Marley's ghost
Scrooged (1988), a remake in a contemporary setting with Bill Murray being a misanthropic TV producer who is haunted by the ghosts of Christmas
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), featuring the various Muppet characters, with Michael Caine as Scrooge
A Christmas Carol (1997), an animated production featuring the voice of Tim Curry as Scrooge as well as the voices of Whoopi Goldberg and Michael York
Christmas Carol: The Movie (2001), an animated version with the voices of Simon Callow, Kate Winslet (who sings 'What if'), Nicolas Cage, Jane Horrocks, Rhys Ifans, Michael Gambon, and Juliet Stevenson
A Christmas Carol (1977), an adaption by the BBC with Sir Michael Horden as Scrooge
An American Christmas Carol (1979), an adaptation starring Henry Winkler at the height of his fame from the television series Happy Days, where the story is set in Depression era New England
A Christmas Carol (1984), starring George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge, David Warner and Susanna York as the Cratchitts, with Edward Woodward as The Ghost Of Christmas Present
A Christmas Carol (1999), a television movie starring Patrick Stewart, inspired by his one-man show
A Christmas Carol (2000) A modern-day version starring Ross Kemp as Eddie Scrooge, an unscrupulous loan shark
A Diva's Christmas Carol (2000), a humorous adaptation starring Vanessa Williams as bitchy diva Ebony Scrooge
A Carol Christmas (2003) Made-for-TV adaptation on the Hallmark Channel starring Tori Spelling as "Scroogette" TV host Carol Cartman. William Shatner makes a special appearance as the ghost of Christmas Present, and Gary Coleman as the ghost of Christmas Past
A Christmas Carol: The Musical (2004), starring Kelsey Grammer

Who's your favourite?

UPDATE: A Muppet Christmas Carol is Archbishop Rowan Williams' favourite

16 December 2008

16th December

Today's calendar pictures are dedicated to the De Ath family of Crowborough, who put in a request for their favourite things - a goose, a bear and a train. I couldn't find a Christmas photo with all 3 of them, so here's what I tracked down ...

A snowy sculture of a goose and bear (and fox) in Anchorage, Alaska

A bear tries to steal a goose called Gaylord

A Canadian Christmas train

15 December 2008

15th December

This year, Cilla Black (born Priscilla White) is playing the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at the Liverpool Empire. Bonnie (short for Bonita) Langford is playing Peter Pan in Richmond. Here's the scary fact: Bonnie is 44 years old, which is 2 years older than Cilla was when she started presenting Blind Date.

14 December 2008

14th December

here's a great ad for a present for the woman in your life!

if the video above doesn't work, then try video link 1 or video link 2

13 December 2008

13th December

If it's Saturday then it's naff presents time. Which would you most like to wake up to on Christmas morning? A patriotic flag with gold finial detail, a pet nail trimmer ("impossible to find in the shops"), or for the man in your life, a life-size cello wine holder, "carefully cast from polyresin". So are you a racist, a Crufts fanatic, or just blind to good taste and decorum?

12 December 2008

12th December

A seasonal snowflake hat, advertised in the Saks Fifth Avenue catalogue, with snowflakes designed by Marian Bantjes.

11 December 2008

11th December

Not one but two stocking filler books about graphs that illustrate pop songs. It shows how ahead of the trends this calendar is, it's a full 12 months since our Pie Chart Christmas Card was the toast of the Surrey design circuit. The disappointing thing about these books is that they are just copied off the internet, it's not even like the 'authors' had any ideas of their own.

10 December 2008

10th December

We were looking for a nice angel picture to put on the calendar, so big thanks to Isobel who sent us this Playmobil version of Gabriel visiting Mary that she made for a school project. We had Playmobil back on the very first Advent Calendar but nothing so handcrafted. We particularly like how Gabriel is so small he has to stand on a bench!

9 December 2008

9th December

Another great Christmas tree today, this one is a colourful fabric pattern that I spotted in the Gap store on Oxford Street. The Sugababes turned on the Oxford Street lights this year, which is slightly more prestige than my visit to Bluewater where Geri Halliwell silently turned on the lights and then strode off the stage.

8 December 2008

8th December

This year's tree at Tate Britain has been launched and it's even wackier than ever. Artist Bob and Roberta Smith (real name Martin Brill) is encouraging people to make their own art, and join in on the exercise bikes at the base of the tree. Let us know what you think of it, especially if you get to have a go!

7 December 2008

7th December

It seems earlier than ever before - there are now 3 issues of RT in the shops, this week (Dr Who cover), next week (Nigella cover) and now the Christmas double issue! Hope you've got your highlighters ready. In fact we couldn't find one in Woking yesterday for love or money, so we'll have to postpone our viewing selection for a few days. Which TV show are you most looking forward to?

6 December 2008

6th December

VOTE for your favourite naff present! Will it be
(a) the high-heeled shoe full of creamy liqueur
(b) the multi-blade scissors to protect against identity theft
(c) the genuine home-grown patch of Wembley turf?
Let us know your comments.

5 December 2008

5th December

Hidden away in the window display at the Lego shop in Bluewater was this slightly folorn-looking Santa. He's quite minimalist, red body and hat, yellow head and white beard - but what's with the white hands? He looks very cold. Poor Santa.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Lego brick. Also in the Lego shop was a catalogue of every Lego set ever produced anywhere in the world. Adam quite coveted it but it was £16! He remembered how distressing it was (in an OCD sort of way) to find that two of his Lego sets in the 70s had the same product number for different models.

4 December 2008

4th December

Christmas decorations from around the world: Russia.
We had planned on having a Russian theme to this year's calendar but changed our mind - more about why next week.
But here's an ornament that we couldn't miss out, a fantastic music box in the shape of Moscow-type towers.

3 December 2008

3rd December

A trip to the Tower of London gave us the opportunity to buy some of these beautiful and patriotic tree decorations. It's great to know that Santa is actually British. Rule Britannia!

2 December 2008

2nd December

Isn't it beginning to feel more like Christmas now the Advent Calendar is here? Did you have a nice chocolate from your High School Musical or right-on Fairtrade calendar? Have any of your neighbours put up an inordinate amount of Christmas lights outside their house yet?

Well, today's picture is this cheeky snowman from Muji, who looks both raffish and rakish with his hat at such a jaunty angle.

Two snowmen are standing in a garden. One says to the other, "Can you smell carrots?"

1 December 2008

1st December

Welcome to the Advent Calendar for 2008!
Everyone loves a panto (oh yes they do!) and we were amazed to see the strange similarity between the pantos in Swindon, Southend, Cardiff and Crawley - all of which have the same poster! Of course the C-list celebrities range from Barry (from Eastenders) to the Chuckle Brothers, and Cardiff are particularly lucky to get Anthony Costa (from Blue), and all feature the magical 3D genie.
To see more panto coincidences, visit the It's Behind You website, which also has a helpful list of celebrities so you can find out which provincial theatre to visit them in.