24 December 2016

24th December 2016

Wishing all of you a very Happy Christmas, from Adam & Sarah.
We hope your travels over the next few days go safely, and you have a lovely time with your nearest and dearest.
Thanks to all who have encouraged us to do the Advent Calendar again this year, you know who you are.

For the final window, here are some brilliant Nativity scenes you may have missed:

The baby cheeses

Santa at the nativity

Toilet nativity

And finally the best Christmas tree decoration we have seen. As our friend Sophie said,
"When tensions run high at Christmas, John McClane is still saving a whole bunch of people from something far more dramatic."

23 December 2016

23rd December 2016

The last Friday before Christmas! Let's have a jolly video that you can play on full volume in the office and cheer everyone up. Does your boss let you go early today, or do you work for Scrooge?

22nd December 2016

More Christmas traditions:

We like to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol, and (on Youtube) The Box Of Delights, to get us in the Christmas mood. But one of our friends John likes to watch K9 and Company.
For those of you that are too young (it only had one episode, in December 1981) this starred Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, one of Doctor Who's companions, who after she left the TARDIS was sent a robot dog, K9, to protect her. This adventure is set around the Winter Solstice so has a seasonal feel, at least.

A new Christmas tradition is where bespectacled Richard Osman, of Pointless, runs a "World Cup of Christmas" on his Twitter feed. This year is Christmas Films and the first round is still going on and you can vote (if you tweet). Please help Muppet Christmas Carol (or Die Hard) to win!

21 December 2016

21st December 2016

Last minute present ideas! This is one we genuinely saw in Boots, where you can personalise a whole range of beauty gifts. SO tempted to buy this!

20th December 2016

One of the funniest Christmas stories of recent years is that of the Gävle Goat.

Starting in 1966 a 13 metre high wooden sculpture of the Yule Goat has been built in the centre of Gävle, Sweden. Unfortunately, almost every year it is built, it gets burnt down, sometimes on the same day.

The town council have tried over the years to prevent the burning. Because the fire station is close to the location of the goat, most of the time the fire can be extinguished before the wooden skeleton is severely damaged. To date four people have been caught or convicted for vandalising the goat.

In 1968 the council added a protective fence.
In 1976 it was hit by a car.
In 1979 after the first goat was burnt, the second was fireproofed, but then kicked to pieces.
In 1985 soldiers built a 2m high fence and guarded it. Despite this, it was burnt down in January.
In 1992 there were 3 goats, all were burnt down.
In 1995 a Norwegian tried to burn it down.
In 2000 the goat was thrown into the river.
In 2001 the goat was burned down by a 51-year-old man from Cleveland, Ohio who believed that he was taking part in a completely legal goat-burning tradition.
In 2004 the Gävle Goat's homepage was hacked into and webcams changed.
In 2005 a vandal dressed as the Gingerbread Man successfully shot a flaming arrow into the goat.
In 2006, the 40th anniversary of the goat, it was protected with "Fiber ProTector Fireproof", which unfortunately made it "look like a brown terrier".
In 2011, it was set on fire despite having a protective coat of ice made by spraying water onto it.

This year, it was destroyed by an arsonist equipped with petrol on its inauguration day. It was replaced by a smaller replica built by local high school students. This goat was later hit by a car, repaired, and knocked over again.

Check and see it if is still there! http://www.visitgavle.se/sv/gavlebocken

19 December 2016

19th December 2016

You can tell it's the school holidays when the Advent Calendar starts falling behind ... sorry!

We have enjoyed meeting lots of friends this December, and a special hello to John B who we caught up with for the first time in 2 years yesterday. While we were round at a party on Saturday we spotted this rather strange Xmas tree decoration. Either Han has got really big or the Millennium Falcon has got very small.

17 December 2016

18th December 2016

We all have Christmas traditions, and one I'm sure we've shared before is Adam reading Susan Cooper's 1970s Puffin sequence The Dark Is Rising. A lot of adults of a certain age loved the books and the second one is set at Christmas time, so it's an ideal holiday to read all 5 books.

There is a beautiful set of hardbacks published by The Folio Society, who have Susan Cooper on their website reading extracts and being interviewed about the books.

The first one in the sequence is called Over Sea, Under Stone and follows 3 children as they discover treasure on the Cornish coast. They have a mysterious Great-Uncle who turns out in the later books ... well, that would be telling!

17th December 2016

If you're looking for a beautiful decoration, maybe to add to your Christmas collection for next year, you couldn't do better than these adorable trees from Forge Creative. A local company (based just north of Chichester) they turn the trees individually and offer a mixture of woods and colours. Find out more at http://forgecreative.co

16 December 2016

16th December 2016

Christmas Jumpers! Whether you wear one for charity, or to be ironic, or because Christmas has somehow made you lose your mind and you really like them, there's an increasing esoteric range to choose from.

Maths Jumpers!

And thanks to our friend Sarah W. for suggesting these two beauties:

Though of course I claim intellectual copyright on the second one, producing in 1998 (18 years ago!) the Tesco Value Christmas card:

15 December 2016

15th December 2016

Here's a find from the Finnish Christmas Fair we visited in November. All the Scandi fairs are great, with present ideas and food and drink gifts galore.

14 December 2016

14th December 2016

It's official! We've bought a brand new Sharpie and agreed our coding system (yes we have one). Now it's time to start marking up ...

13 December 2016

13th December 2016

It's not Friday (yet!) but we thought we'd treat you to another Christmas video, this is for a song that Adam only recently discovered while shopping in Hobbycraft and heard it over the tannoy. But then last night at the Salesian Carol Concert we heard it beautifully sung by a talented student, and thought we should put it up today.

Written by Adam's Twitter nemesis, Mike Batt (creator of the Wombles and Katie Melua in his underground songwriting laboratory), here's David Essex...

11 December 2016

12th December 2016

If you're a fan of Christmas specials, then McDonalds has a real treat for you. Instead of the usual "Festive Pie", this year they have introduced the "Chocolatey Banoffee Pie". Delicious!

And if you're after something a bit more traditional, why not try a Marzipan Pig? This delicious paste of almond, milk and sugar is the most common shape for a Nordic Christmas and is usually the prize for whoever finds the hidden almond nut in the Christmas rice porridge. Yes, they hide nuts in porridge!

11th December 2016

Top Five Christmas Movie Baddies

5. Those blokes out of Home Alone

I haven't seen this but I assume they are Very Bad Indeed, as they want to get into Kevin's house and steal some gingerbread feeling, or something. They are also quite stupid. And unlucky. So they can go at number 5.

4. Harry in Love, Actually

Again, I haven't seen this, but Sarah assures me that Harry (played by Alan Rickman) is a naughty man who cheats on Emma Thompson. What A Monster. However I think everyone in the film is a baddie for starring in such a schmaltzy piece of tinsel.

3. Victor Landberg in Miracle on 34th Street (1994 version)

The incomparable Joss Ackland (seen here in a Pet Shop Boys video) as the evil store owner trying to put Cole's out of business by getting Kris Kringle arrested. He's been great in everything he does, especially baddies, like his Evil South African in Lethal Weapon 2 (poor Patsy Kensit).

2. Scrooge in A Muppet Christmas Carol (and others)

Say no more. But he can't be number one because he turns good at the end. Lightweight.

1. Hans Gruber in Die Hard

Not only is Die Hard most people's favourite Christmas film, Hans is a 100% turd, and no other Christmas baddie comes close. Plus, everyone loves Alan Rickman (RIP) so it's only fair he gets 2 places in the top 5. (Let's forget how Jeremy Irons pretended he was Rickman's brother in Die Hard 3. Not even close.)

10 December 2016

10th December 2016

This month a new gallery has opened at the Science Museum. Designed by the late Zaha Hadid, it celebrates the applications of Maths through history and using technology. It certainly looks impressive.

It also looks quite empty, and doesn't seem to actually have much maths. Among the exhibits are a chair, an early cashpoint machine, an aeroplane, and some skulls. Thankfully it has an abacus and an astrolabe, but it doesn't have the models of polyhedra and hyperboloid surfaces there used to be in the old Maths gallery.

But let's pick one positive. It does have an exhibit about Florence Nightingale. That's Nightingale the statistician, who drew all sorts of graphs during the Crimean War, like this one:

One of Nightingale’s most significant innovations was a diagram which showed the causes of soldiers’ deaths over two successive years in the Crimea. The first year (shown on the right of the diagram) was 1854–5, following her arrival in the region. The second (on the left) was 1855–6, after she had implemented a series of reforms to the hospital and nursing practices.

You can read more about this innovative graph, and brilliant person, at https://beta.sciencemuseum.org.uk/stories/2016/11/4/florence-nightingalethe-pioneer-statistician

8 December 2016

9th December 2016

In 2005 the Creen Advent Calendar looked more like this, coded as it was in HTML.

And it was in 2005 that we put on "I Believe In Father Christmas" by Greg Lake. Now 11 years later, sadly, he died earlier this month, so in memory of him, here is his 1974 classic.

and the classical piece it was based on:

8th December 2016

We're pretty much done with our Christmas shopping, but there's some people it's really hard to choose gifts for. If you have a friend who is a headteacher, why not get them their school's aims and ethos engraved on a wooden cheeseboard? Here's the one I've made for Ciran Stapleton, Head of St Joseph's School in Slough. Happy Christmas Ciran!

7 December 2016

Reasons to love The Ipcress File

1. Dr Radcliffe reads New Scientist (geddit?) in the car

2. Dr Radcliffe disappears at Marylebone Station (and Taylor dead in the mailsacks)

3. Harry Palmer's out-of-focus POV shot before he puts on the famous specs

4. Ross talking to the pigeons (Palmer's B107 on the table)

5. Alice

6. "I don't have Ross's sense of humour." "I will miss that, sir."

7. Talking to Pat at Scotland Yard: "You dirty old man." (in Harry H Corbett voice)

8. Chasing Bluejay through Imperial College

9. "I need a TX82." "You need a 3H security clearance. What's your authority?" "CC1." "CC1? All right, Harry, if you say so."

10. Colonel Ross in Safeway supermarket (Champignons!)

11. "I'm working for Dalby. You're working for Ross."

11a. "Do you always wear your glasses?" "Except in bed."

12. "You - lose yourself."

13. "My name ... is HARRY PALMER!"

14. The big reveal of his prison location

15. "Now listen to me. Listen to me."

16. The final shootout.

guest suggestions:

Jeroen Teeuwisse: The music by John Barry

Maggie Dods: "Tell me who wins."

Kelliepie: The fancy continental coffee making routine. The clocking of numerous birds. The incredibly thick gloss paint everywhere. "I shall BITE you, Palmer!" The rotary telephones - the Major has 3: red, green, black.

7th December 2016

Every once in a while, you come across the prefect nativity scene. In 2010, it was the now world-famous Sausage Nativity: http://adamcreen.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/7th-december-2010.html

You may have seen this next one before (with the rise since 2010 of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) but we make no apologies. Look at it. JUST LOOK AT IT.

And what's more, its available to buy! https://www.modernnativity.com/products/modern-nativity-set

6 December 2016

6th December 2016

We hope you're enjoying this Advent Calendar, but also any real-world ones you have. Sarah has a BB8 calendar that lights up (and has chocolate) so that's very exciting.

One LEGO fan did a whole blog for every window of last year's LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar, which had C3PO dressed as Santa Claus:

Here's the blog: http://www.thebrickfan.com/category/lego-star-wars-2015-advent-calendar/