29 December 2012

What happened next ..?

A Christmas quiz: fast forward to the time shown, play the video for 15 seconds, then pause it and say what happened next!

Shakin Stevens "Merry Christmas Everyone"

1) from 2:23 to 2:38

2) from 2:48 to 3:03

Whigfield "Last Christmas"

3) from 1:25 to 1:40

Mariachi Doritos "Stay Another Day"

4) from 1:55 to 2:10

Sir Clifford of Richard "Saviour's Day"

5) from 2:35 to 2:50

24 December 2012

24th December 2012

Final round-up before jetting off (to Horsham!)
This time it's nativities - including Swiss (thanks Gail!), atheist, chocolate (from my Percy Pig calendar), Star Wars, dinosaur, robot and Playmobil.
Happy Christmas!

23 December 2012

23rd December 2012

We still have a folder FULL of pictures for the Advent Calendar, so we're going to do a round-up of tree decs today and nativity scenes tomorrow - so lots to LOL at and also tell your friends - just give them the shortcut bit.ly/adcal12 !

The Blue Jays are Toronto's hockey team. Of course, being Canada that means ICE Hockey!

Gorgeous cat (photo by Sarah White).

Fast food bling!

Knitted pudding.

This year's MUST-HAVE tree decoration - matching Yeti and Bigfoot figures!

22 December 2012

22nd December 2012

As with previous Saturdays I wanted to do a round-up of other Advent Calendars.
Unfortunately I couldn't find any amusing ones.

So instead please be upstanding for ... the Advent Colander! 

If that wasn't entertaining enough, you have two fun activities to carry you through this long and rainy weekend. First up is a game that promises to "Reveal Your Inner Goddess". Don't ask me any more, I've no idea about anything to do with this:

For more family-suitable fun, download this Krispy Kreme fun sheet - there's colouring in and a wordsearch to do!

21 December 2012

21st December 2012

It's the Christmas Concert season and who better to entertain us than the triumvirate of choral luvvies Russell, Hayley and Aled. Here they are at the BBC Big Sing in the Royal Albert Hall, with "The Twelve Days Of Christmas".

Of course the king of Christmas Concerts is friend of the Advent Calendar, Raymond Gubbay. As well as having a preposterous name, he's now responsible for cheesy concerts across the land, including G Live in Guildford.

If you're short of seasonal cheer, why not go this afternoon to hear Russell singing in the RAH again. As a bonus, the event is presented by portly fake psychic Russell Grant!

When a child is born
Santa Mambo SantaMary’s Boy ChildRudolph the Red - nosed Reindeer
Frosty the Snowman
Goodtime Christmas
Winter Wonderland
Santa Claus is coming to town

Guest Singers
Southend Girls’ Choir
Southend Boys’ Choir
Capital Voices choir
London Concert Orchestra

Bonus beats:

20 December 2012

20th December 2012

Guest post from @maxnugget, an extraordinary woman of our acquaintance:

The Sarah Lund Tea Cosy

If you’re looking for that elusive Scandinavian gift for the office Forbrydelsen fan then you’ve still got time to knit a Sarah Lund tea cosy.  Cheap and cheerful and nothing says Merry Christmas like the gift of acrylic wool.  It takes about 4 hours to knit so you can do it while you’re watching telly.

I can’t read knitting patterns, in fact they may as well be in Danish, so I’ve written out instructions and done a chart in Excel.  I’m a very basic knitter so on a scale of 1 to 10 it’s about a 2 difficulty wise.


If you don’t want to tackle that you could always pick up Emma Kennedy’s rather enjoyable Killing Handbook or the guide to Copenhagen, and twiddle your thumbs until series II of Borgen starts on January 5th.    

Right, I’m off to knit my Birgitte Nyborg power suit mug cosies.

19 December 2012

19th December 2012

After yesterday's snowflake crafts it's a double whammy for Karen who gets her Christmas TREE craft on the calendar! This is a tree in the shape of a Sierpinski gasket - a fractal creation that has smaller and smaller patterns of triangles cut out until there is (theoretically) no area left but an infinite array of impossibly small triangles. This is just an approximation!

Other tree news this year, which we'll pile in here as we're running out of days:
There's no tree at Tate Britain, as they are remodelling the Atrium.
After last year's stupendous LEGO tree at St Pancras, this year they have gone for a giant gold ribbon making up a cone shape, but no actual tree.
To make up for that, here's the tree from the Rockefeller Center in New York, where they really know how to do this sort of thing:

18 December 2012

18th December 2012

It's the last week of term, so teachers are on the look-out for activities that are (a) educationally valuable, and (b) seasonally relevant. One of my favourites is to look at constructing snowflakes - depending on the group it can be something quite straighforward, or become incredibly intricate.

Our friend Karen is both a Maths teacher and very good at knitting and crochet, and these are some of the many snowflake designs she has crocheted this year.

If you want to make snowflakes online there are two very good websites:

At http://www.andrewt.net/snowflake/ by adjusting the pattern in the top left you can alter your snowflake on the right

If paper-cutting is more your thing but you don't fancy clearing up the mess, a snowflake maker from http://snowflakes.barkleyus.com/ gives you loads of possibilities!

17 December 2012

17th December 2012

There's so much great Christmas stuff out there, we could do this Advent Calendar for 3 months and still never cover all of it! Coming up this week, more crazy Christmas trees, some Tiny Christmas Games, and today ... science!

and a real life version!

Bonus beats: Here's the first track from They Might Be Giants' "Here Comes Science":

16 December 2012

16th December 2012

Forget iced-topped mince pies, panettone, and stollen. There's a new Christmas treat and it's delicious!

Ricciarelli are handmade cakes made with almond, sugar, honey and egg whites, with a hint of candied orange.

 A tiny family-run bakery in Montalcino makes these Tuscan cakes for Carluccios. They use September's fresh almond crop and bake the cakes lightly so they're crunchy outside, but soft and light inside. Ricciarelli means "little curly things".

The only problem is ... they're sold out! We managed to get one packet for our friends Ian and Brendan, and one for ourselves. So our top tip ... get to Carluccios next November and buy up as many as you can - some for gifts, but mainly for you!

15 December 2012

15th December 2012

It's the weekend (hooray!) and well done to those of you at independent schools who have broken up for the holidays, do think of your colleagues with a week to go (and non-teachers who don't even get a holiday).

Let's round up some more great Advent Calendars that are out there on the web:

Name: Tracey Thorn
Sample Page: Tracey's Yule Log recipe
Link: http://www.buzzinfly.com/ecards/calendar/tracey-thorn-advent-calendar.html

Tracey is the singer from Everything But The Girl and she has a cornucopia of musical treats, playlists and vids for you to see each day

Name: Advent Calendar for Clerks and Governors
Sample Page: What can GB Chairs learn form the role of Board Chair
Link: http://clerktogovernors.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/advent-calendar-for-clerks-and-governors-3rd-december/

Occasionally educational, often seasonal, and sometimes with free food, this niche calendar is for anyone on the Governing Body of a school

Name: German Embassy, London
Sample Page: Yule Log recipe
Link: http://www.germanembassyadventcalendar.org/?language=en

27 Days of European Christmas customs, presented by our Teutonic sidekicks

Name: World of Moose
Sample Page: what you make of it!
Link: http://www.worldofmoose.com/pages/fillmein1_7.html

An Advent picture to print out, colour in, and force your grandparents to put on their fridge

Name: Plus Advent Calendar
Sample Page: Does it pay to be nice? The Maths of Altruism
Link: http://plus.maths.org/content/2012-plus-advent-calendar

Another calendar for Maths nerds - a different article, podcast or puzzle every day!

14 December 2012

14th December 2012

Friday again, so it's time for more music.
An old favourite of ours is the album "Ancient and Modern" by Anne Dudley, who does new post-minimalist arrangements of carols and choral music.

Here's the best two - if you come to one of our carol services this year you may hear Adam doing one as an organ voluntary!

13 December 2012

13th December 2012

Terrible Christmas Present time, and here's a great gift for those who like practical jokes, or who intensely dislike a work colleague.

Yes, the wrongulator adds 5 onto every answer, meaning that it is always wrong!

"The Wrongulator is no ordinary calculator, its actually the world’s worst calculator as it never gives the right answer, ever!  If your calculator has been exchanged for this one then every single calculation you’ve entered in it has been wrong. It is perhaps the cruelest practical joke you could inflict on your office colleague and the chances are, without being told, they’ll probably never guess….well not before it’s too late anyway! Mwhahahaha!"

And at £5, it's ideal for a Secret Santa gift.

Spotted any terrible Christmas presents? Send them to us via the comments and we'll feature them next week!

12 December 2012

12th December 2012

It's here! 12/12/12! The most exciting date since 10/11/12, or maybe 08/10/12, ...
Also known as International Soundcheck Day, many say we won't see another triple date in our lifetimes. But as Whitney Houston sang, I believe the children are our future.
[I really shouldn't type these so early in the morning or late at night]

Everyone seemed to like our Star Wars decorations on Day 1, so here's a round-up of some other Star Wars stuff that's appeared this Christmas.

I call this one "These are Knit the Droids you are looking for."
Aren't they adorable?

With Jedi numbers falling in the UK (see yesterday's 2011 Census data release) some have posited the existence of a Death Star near Earth turning people to the Dark Side. Here's two Death Star gift ideas!

and anyone who's received the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar will have been disappointed by December 2nd's Jar Jar Binks, but hopefully you've been cheered up with figures like this taken by Flickr user J5K

11 December 2012

11th December 2012

We pretty much know by now that the baddies on this Christmas's Doctor Who are going to be evil snowmen (weeping snow angels?). So for those of you who are sad not to see the Daleks this Christmas, here's some ideas to fill your holiday with those darling pepperpots.

Make your Christmas tree look like a Dalek, by adding eye-stalk, plunger and silver-tape accessories!

Last seen in 2009, here's another airing for the Snow Dalek.

And way back from 2006, this is how the Radio Times celebrated Christmas.

Bonus beats: A Dalek Nativity!

10 December 2012

10th December 2012

Every year, the great and the good have to choose a Christmas card design to show how serious/family-friendly/famous they are (delete as appropriate). If you haven't seen the ones from the three party leaders, you can find them here (I'm not going to spoil your day by putting Cameron on this calendar).

But others are more imaginative. MPs, for example, will want to get children in their constituency to design a card, because Christmas is all about the children.

In first place, Maisie Jackson from Harrogate has designed the card for Harrogate MP Andrew Jones. She received a special certificate signed by Mr Jones.

Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray had a hard job choosing his winning card, shown here with creator Louis Renwick. "My team and I are still covered in glitter.”, he said.

Chris Grayling MP chose this card by six-year-old Emily Reeh. In particularly exciting news, one of Emily's cards will be sent to the Prime Minister. Another will be sent to Nick Clegg.

Here, Shadow Home Secretary MP Yvette Cooper is shown with her winner, Ayeesha Wasti, Mrs Cooper was also reported to be helping the Mayor of Normanton switch on town’s Christmas lights.

Finally, nul points to Stourbridge MP Margot James, who was so disappointed by her winners, Thomas and Rachel, she wouldn't even let them have a photo of their cards in the paper. Instead she showed how generous she was by posing with them holding their book tokens.

9 December 2012

9th December 2012

Two guests posts today from our friends!

First, a great Christmas gift recommended by Peter & Miriam:

Then, a groan-worthy pun about the Nativity from Becca:

8 December 2012

8th December 2012

I may shock you to know we're not the only online Advent Calendar out there. We've found some great ones that we'd love to share with you. None of them explicitly say they were inspired by us, but we like to think so anyway!

Name: Turning Point Trust
Sample Page:
Link: http://www.tptrust.org/blog/uncategorized/advent-calendar-resource/

This is a great charity supported by our church working in Kibera in Kenya. The advent calendar helps you think about issues of poverty while exploring the story of the Nativity

Name: Tate Kids
Sample Page: What I like about Lichtenstein
Link: http://kids1.tate.org.uk/blog/?tag=advent-calendar

Everyday a different child from Rotherhithe chooses a painting from the Tate collection and writes about why they like it

Name: Royal Institution
Sample Page: Dec 7th: Prof Brian Cox explains why chemistry and biology are only applied physics
Link: http://advent.richannel.org/

Short videos on a host of scientific topics, with links to this year's Christmas lectures
Name: Kings Road Primary School
Sample Page: Christmas in Australia
Link: http://advent.kingsroadprimary.net/2012/

Every day the students discover more about Christmas all around the world
Name: xkcd
Sample Page: just the one
Link: http://xkcd.com/994/

This is definitely a cartoon for Maths nerds - but ask if you need it explained!
Name: Just Ermie
Sample Page: Ermie finds a cure for man-flu
Link: http://justermie.blogspot.co.uk/2012_12_01_archive.html

In this calendar by unashamed geek artist Ermie, she explains some of the things about Christmas that she likes, and that she finds VERY annoying. Warning: may contain swears.