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Christmas is Coming

We went to buy our Christmas tree this morning.  Instead of the Christmas Tree Farm we went instead to our local garden centre, not because it’s closer to where we live or that their trees are less expensive (they are expensive just about everywhere) but simply for a change.

I wonder if you recall that in early October I visited this garden centre and one of the staff was erecting the reindeer stables?  Well, this Christmas display is now complete and it is far better than ever I could’ve imagined!  I wish this was a video, but I’m not clever enough to take videos and post those, but take it from me this is a complete hoot. The reindeers are like a comedy act, they talk to one another and to the people, as if we are an audience, and then they sing.  They all move and speak independently and it is so funny, I was in stitches, tears of laughter running down my face. It just appealed to my child-like sense of humour, others were watching it, mildly amused, they must’ve thought I was barmy!  I just loved it.

Not only was this funny and caught the shoppers’ attention, but it had been beautifully set up with all kinds of animals in front of the stables, birds, donkey, lambs … a lot of thought went into this and I really enjoyed seeing it.

But before we went to see the reindeer, we bought a Christmas tree. There were trees as far as the eyes could see.  We chose one, a Nordman, about 6ft, and had it ‘wrapped’ in netting.  Whoever designed the machines for netting Christmas trees must’ve made a fortune, for it seems that everywhere that sells Christmas trees has a netting machine.  The tree is now in a bucket of water, the chap who sold it to us having sawn a portion of the end where the tree would naturally have ‘healed’ itself after being cut down, and it will stay there for at least a week, I don’t like to have it in the house too soon, the closer to Christmas the better for me.

I was going to look for a wreath for the front door but I also wanted to look at the ornaments, so no wreath as yet.  I confess we seldom buy such things as ornaments; we don’t go in for garden gnomes and or little statues or plaster ducks and so forth, it’s not our style, but a couple of tree baubles doesn’t break the bank, and we don’t have to look at them all year round.  (I’ve just remembered – we do have one garden ornament but it was bought for us:  a large snail, a birthday present from a very dear friend no longer with us, and I just love seeing ‘Brian’ in the garden. We called him Brian after the snail in the Magic Roundabout children’s TV programme from the 1970s.)

The garden centre had really pulled out all the stops to make the Christmas displays look lovely.

And regarding my second Joules scarf, it is pretty but I prefer the first one.  The second one’s colours aren’t quite ‘me’ but I thought it might look good in the spring with my cream coloured Artigiano blazer (many years old).

The scarf doesn’t look good with navy; the contrast with the pinks and creams is just too great, but with cream it looks OK.  I also have a long, stone-coloured cardigan from The White Company (a lovely present some years ago) and it will look OK with that, too.

On that note, and try as I might there really isn’t a link between Christmas trees and a scarf, so I will close.


I thought I’d post something to get your taste buds going … our Sunday lunch:  roast chicken, stuffing, gravy, tiny roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrot & white turnip mash, and peas.  To drink, cloudy apple juice.  Dessert was to be apple crumble but we were too full after this, so we will have that for supper.

Until next time.

About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. I do love visiting garden centres at any time of year, but particularly at Christmas. My husband doesn’t feel quite the same, he enjoys visiting one or two but doesn’t understand I am happy to keep going back. I seldom buy much, just one or two little bits, but I like to browse. We are off to one on Tuesday with one daughter and granddaughter, after which we are having a Christmas meal in a pub (pre booked) and then the following Tuesday we are off to a different one, with both daughters and granddaughters this time. And at this one, we are going to see Father Christmas 🙂

    • Margaret Powling

      My husband is much the same, Alison. I would’ve liked to have looked at everything but I could see he was champing at the bit to get back to the car and drive home. I will possibly go there again if only to choose a wreath for the front door. So many people make their own now and I think I could make one, but I don’t have the things to make one with, nor the right kind of greenery in the garden, so I will buy one. The pub meal sounds rather nice with your family, and your granddaughters will love seeing Father Christmas. I bought a little snowman snow scene today, a globe you shake and it’s all snowy, just a little extra present for our grandson.

  2. Delicious meal! My eldest children loved The Magic Roundabout! Nice to have a Brian in your garden. I must confess, I find Christmas totally over whelming…… because I have 3 adult children (1 of whom is a grandmother), 5 grandchildren – aged 15 to 29, & a great grandson, plus daughter-in-law, grand daughter-in-law, son-in law, secret santa became necessary. For Granny’s sake! But it looks as though you have Christmas sorted Margaret, and enjoy it all. I admire that.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, lunch was lovely. It is very traditional but there’s nothing wrong with that. When I look at the recipes in the paper it’s as if the various chefs are trying to out-do each other with the most odd ingredients!
      My goodness, I didn’t know you’d have The Magic Roundabout in your country, Ratnamurti. Our two boys loved it, and so did I, especially Dylan and Zebedee! Yes, Christmas is more-or-less planned, and this year I don’t have a meal to make on either Christmas Day or Boxing Day, which will be a first in 53 years. It takes some getting used to, not ordering a turkey! But it’s now time for the younger generation (who are now middle aged anyway) to take over, that’s how it should be.

  3. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    What a lovely garden centre, these days they have so many nice things to see, makes for a lovely morning or afternoon out. I love the displays you have shown us, particularly the one with the small mammals and birds.
    You can see how people easily overspend, with so many wonderful things to tempt.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, it’s a lovely garden centre, Marlene. It’s part of the company who started the garden centre in Ottery St Mary, hence the name Otter Nursery and now it’s called Otter Garden Centre, although they do still cultivate and grow some of their plants themselves as well as buying them in from abroad. There is also a nice café there, both in our local one and in Ottery St Mary but we didn’t go into the café today. Yes, it’s easy to see how people easily overspend, you can easily get carried away when you see all the lovely things for sale, I am very careful not to spend on ornaments though, I like to see a pretty display but I don’t want all the stuff in my sitting room, I just prefer some greenery, fruit, flowers and a Christmas tree. And cards … I love having Christmas cards from friends, it keeps people in touch if only once a year. The displays with the little animals is lovely, none of them real of course, but really pretty. Best of all, the singing and joking reindeer!

  4. I don’t make a wreath Margaret (too funereal and Dickensian for me) but I do gather bits of greenery from the garden and allotment such as bay, Rosemary, fruiting ivy etc and tie them together loosely with ribbon and then hang from my door pull. I use fresh greenery to decorate indoors too. I string fairy lights round my banisters and attach small bunches of greenery to the cable with green florists wire and add a few bits of realistic fakery as I go. Like you I prefer my Christmas tree (a foraged Scots Pine which we’ll cut down the week before Christmas) to be the main event and I’m usually able to pick dark pink anemones from the allotment, my favourite flower at Christmas time. This year I’m growing a towering amarylis. It hasn’t flowered yet but apparently the flowers last three weeks if cut and supported in water. I have it supported in the pot with a cage of orange cornus stems at the moment and hope it can hang on until Christmas!

    • Margaret Powling

      That’s a good idea, Sarah. There used to be a lovely bay tree at the end of the laurel hedge which separated our garden from our neighbour (it was his hedge) but recently it was cut and the cutters cut the bay tree to within an inch of its life, nothing on it whatsoever now, just twigs, so sad. Yes, to cutting the laurel, but don’t these people know the difference? It will take decades to grow again, if indeed it survives. But I have Rosemary in the garden and skimmia, I could do something which won’t cost an arm and a leg and be natural, too. It’s certainly worth having a go. Yes, I put fair lights around the banisters and on the tree, a friend has them all year round which is pretty, but husband doesn’t care for this look and after all, he lives here, too, so I remove them after Christmas. I love dark pink anemones, too, indeed, all the jewel colours of this lovely flower.

  5. Ha ha, those reindeer’s faces did make me smile Margaret, how jolly and festive do they look. Personally I love a good wander around a garden centre and we are lucky enough to have quite a big one in our village so I can bike down and browse to my hearts content! I have been collecting wooden tree ornaments for many years and like to add at least two new ones each year, as well as the garden centre our local farm shop have what they call a Christmas Barn during the festive season and they always have a good selection, can feel a visit coming on…
    Your Sunday lunch looks delicious and your table as pretty as always.

    • Margaret Powling

      The reindeer were wonderful, so funny, all singing and chatting amongst themselves, and then saying to be quiet to each other as people were watching and then they looked as if butter wouldn’t melt … then they started up their repartee again. Whoever thought it up had a real sense of humour. Elder son, daughter in law and our little grandson went to Otter Garden Centre at Ottery St Mary to the Father Christmas grotto and said it was wonderful, very well done. Various rooms with tableaux vivant, even Mrs Claus’s kitchen, and then the children and their parents (about ten children at a time) went to see Father Christmas and there was a present for each child, it came down the ‘chimney’, each one beautifully wrapped and each present even had the child’s name on it. Our grandson was amazed that Father Christmas knew his name! This a bookable event and it’s £10 per child, and our son said it was so well done it was worth it. This isn’t an advert, I’m just saying how much our grandson enjoyed it.
      We have a number of garden centres in our area, too, and they always have lovely decorations. Some, such as the local Christmas Tree Farm, tend to have more wooden ornaments than the others.

  6. We had ‘The Magic Roundabout’ here in Australia as I can remember Dougal, Zebedee and so on. Mind you, it seems like a long time ago now :))

    Your Sunday lunch looks scrumptious. Our oven won’t get much use for the next several months as it’s just too hot. Even using the stovetop at dinner time requires the use of a box fan sitting on the kitchen floor so that the cook (me) doesn’t pass out from the heat. Phew !

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, it is a long time ago, Lara, since all those lovely ‘people’ were riding on the Magic Roundabout. It was originally a French programme but Englishman, Eric Thompson wrote and narrated new scripts. He was the father of actresses Emma and Sophie Thompson.
      Like you, I don’t cook meals like our Sunday lunch when the weather is hot. I don’t know which is word, too hot, or too cold. But at least if it’s cold outside, we can get warm in the house. If it’s hot, there seems little respite although we do have electric fans which cool us in very hot summers. But sticky nights are worse I think than curling up with a hot water bottle under a lovely duvet.

  7. Hi Margaret,
    The Grosvenor Garden Centre in Belgrave, Chester, which is just down the road from us have the talking/singing Reindeer too, they’re great!
    Your garden centre has a far better display than ours though, I think our centre could have done a lot better!
    Our fifteen month old grandson was fascinated and spent an age sitting on a little chair in front of them, chuckling away!
    Our Christmas tree is chosen and paid for, but the farm we use leave the trees in the ground with ‘owners’ name tags on them until our preferred collection date. Normally we would only collect the tree a week before Christmas, but due to the excitement levels of our Grandson, we’re getting it next weekend and trimming it while he has a weekend away with his parents. We look after him for three full days a week, so it will be a lovely surprise for him when he arrives at our house at 7-00 am on the following Monday!

    • Margaret Powling

      The three reindeer must be some that can be bought specially for such displays, Colette. We loved them, and that is something coming from me who usually thinks seasonal displays border on the naff.
      Oh, your 15 month old grandson will love seeing your Christmas tree decorated! Our little grandson is now four and a half and is performing (along with his Reception class) in tomorrow’s play, or whatever it is they’re doing, not a full Nativity Play as they’re too young for that, but something along those lines, I think. He had to be dressed as a sheep. His mummy has made his a costume from black leggings and a long white T-shirt onto which she has sewn cotton wool. That wasn’t easy, as you can imagine, and they will be surprised if it lasts the rehearsal and two performances, otherwise he will be a shorn-sheep!

  8. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Webbs garden centre near Droitwich also have the singing reindeer. My grandson liked them a lot more than the real ones which we actually went there to see! The good garden centres often have wonderful Christmas displays.
    What a coincidence – My grandson was a sheep at the nursery Nativity today.

    • Margaret Powling

      These singing reindeer must be all over the place, Eloise! But they are very funny, I loved them! Sadly I missed the school Nativity today, laid low with a very bad cold and cough.

  9. I hope you are feeling better today Margaret, a cold can make you feel so very ill sometimes and a cough can last for weeks.

    One of my granddaughters is an angel next week. That will be a bit of a stretch 😉 She’s lovely really 🙂

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Alison. I was just thinking I must wrote a new blog post, but I’ve felt really unwell with this cold. I got up today thinking it was now behind me, but I’ve got worse as the day has rumbled on, so will leave a new post for another day.
      Oh, how lovely that your little granddaughter is an angel next week! I missed the Nativity yesterday, I was too unwell to attend and really felt sorry that I’d missed is but our son said that they had to wait outside in the cold a long time before they were ‘allowed in’ to the school, and the chairs in the hall were very uncomfortable, so perhaps a good think I didn’t go.

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