Christmas is beginning to loom large - part of the reason I'm not blogging so frequently - and I've had a massive helping of Christmassy things over the last week, which I thought I'd share.
First, it was the Community Christmas Tree Festival in the town's Parish Church, All Saints and Holy Trinity. I had help with our church tree this year, and between myself and Liv, we took on a music and craft theme to look forward to the Nanpantan Festival which happens next year.
There were a few other trees that caught my eye - here are a few of them;
|British Heart Foundation - Rainbow Hearts|
|A hairdresser's tree. Don't think it was REAL hair...|
|Tatted Angels - last year it was snowflakes|
|The War Memorial Poppy Trees|
|The Rainbows Hospice tree|
Then it was off to Germany for the weekend. Without the children. Which was a whole new level of nervyness for me - the first time they'd been left home alone, even though grandparents were on call just up the road...
Anyway, the reason for the trip was that every year, with our very good friends, we cook a Christmas meal together and dress up in DJ's and posh frocks. It's a tradition that - we think - has been running for thirty years, with only a couple of years off in all that time. Our friends in Germany more often than not come over to England, but this year we travelled to them instead.
While there, we visited a genuine German Christmas market - small and intimate, in streets between pastel-coloured beamed buildings twinkling with lights under the eaves. There was Gluwein and wurst and gingerbread, Advent wreaths and baubles and Christmas candles. And a minecraft-style Nativity scene inside a giant snow globe. The photos are a bit blurry as I forgot the camera - Mr Squidge took these on his phone as the light was fading.
|The biggest Advent calendar I've EVER seen...|
And here's the whole gang - though I think you can only see the top of Nicola's head, cos she was taking a photo too!
One thing I hadn't realised in Germany is how important Advent wreaths - or Adventkranz - are. I know what an Advent wreath IS - we have one in church, and light a new candle on the four Sundays before Christmas, with a special one lit on Christmas Day.
In Germany, most homes have an AdventKranz too. Apparently they were a way of bringing evergreen into the house in advance of Christmas Eve, which is traditionally when the Christmas tree is decorated. Nicola had made two:
|White and silver, to complement the antique glass baubles|
|Glass birds with feather and fibre tails. This wreath is about two feet across!|
I like this idea so much, I think I will make an Adventkranz for Chateau Squidge later this week, because our tree never goes up until a week before Christmas and it would be nice to have something Christmassy (apart from cards and wrapping paper!) before then...
Stars play a big part in the Advent preparations too. Very popular are paper star lampshades for inside and out.
|All set for dinner...|
Although our hosts had prepared and cooked everything, Mr Squidge couldn't resist stirring the gravy...
One other difference this year - apart from being in Germany for our Christmas meal - was our dress code; black tie, posh frock and Christmas slipper socks!
|Look closely and you'll spot the sequins!|
The weekend was finished off by a walk through the forest behind the house on Sunday morning, to see the view over Darmstadt and visit an alpine hut for frikadellen before flying home to the Squidgelings.
Somehow, this was the best meal ever. Thinking about it afterwards, I wondered if it was due in part to the fact that it wasn't JUST an evening meal with our friends. It was a whole weekend, with time to talk and relax and leave all the 'normal' stuff behind at home. We've all got some wonderful memories from a very special forty-eight hours.
Next year, I think we'll be back in Blighty. I'll offer to host it here, assuming we manage to get our new kitchen in by then...