Tag Archives: Christmas

Measuring the National Mood

Christmas Tree in the Stair WellDavid Cameron is spending loads of money trying to gauge the happiness of the peoples of the UK.

Seriously, he doesn’t need to spend all this money, there is a simple way to gauge the mood of a nation – how early do the Christmas decorations go up…

After a drought that became one of the wettest summers in years, with the non-stop rain leading to floods, a recession whose predicted length gets longer every week (now predicted to last well past the next election), and now a sudden cold snap, this weekend the country seems to have taken a collective decision that we need some cheering up!

Christmas Pictures

I’ve uploaded a few pictures of our family Christmas get together to Flickr, including quite a few pictures that will probably leave Lucy with a Christmas tree phobia for life… Unfortunately the sleeping bag is a little big for her now, and will be way too small come next year…

Also as a special treat for those amongst you who have only ever seen her asleep (at least one friend of Beth’s jokingly says that they doubt that Lucy really exists because she’s always asleep) a bit of movie footage of an awake and moving Lucy!

Record Breaking Numbers?

Glowing Christingles

We’re in the middle of the busiest time at St James. Last night was the traditional Nine Lessons and Carols service, that had a record breaking 302 people attend – with people stood packed into the vestry, and stood in the North Aisle – apparently it got so hot in the building that the organ went out of tune… It certainly seems like we’re going to have to do the same as we do with the Christingle services, and run the whole thing twice next year in order to accommodate everybody who wants to attend.

Today we had the four Christingle services. We were on duty for the 2pm and 4pm services, with Beth acting as sidesperson and looking after the sound system, whilst I discovered a new calling as a doorman keeping track of who was coming in, and more importantly collecting unused tickets that people had got ‘just in case’ to allow the one or two people who turn up on the off chance an opportunity to get in. Thanks to the flu bug doing the rounds in the village there were quite a few returns, although at the 4pm, those were all used, and one family decided to come back for the 6pm service as there were no seats left at 4pm – so it looks like we’ll get somewhere between 600 and 800 people through the doors for those services alone – and we haven’t even got to Christmas itself.

The Midnight Communion is usually packed – so on the basis of the turnout last night we’re expecting to be jam packed – quite how we can expand capacity at that service I don’t know. We’re then back up for the 11am service tomorrow morning – although there is also an 8am and 9:30am service too. Certainly it’s looking like we may well have another record in terms of the number of people through the doors over the Christmas period.

We have a few pictures of the 4pm Christingle service up on my Flickr stream, although as usual with shots of this service the majority are restricted access because of all the children in the pictures.

The Feast of the Pharaohs

Walk Like an Egyptian

Last night was my office Christmas party – this year going along to the Feast of the Pharaohs, this years version of the big party that the Christmas Company hold out at Easthampstead Park every year.

We’d been along to one of these a couple of years ago when the theme was Cirque Noel so it was interesting to see what was different.

The first and perhaps biggest change is thanks to the smoking restrictions that came in over the summer. Even though it is held in a marquee, the same rules apply as to any other indoor event, so whereas last time we knew a number of people who didn’t really enjoy the event thanks to the smokers on adjacent tables, this time it was totally smoke free – well aside from the copious amounts of dry ice of course…

As before you arrived in the bar area, and there was an hour or so of mingling and chatting over drinks before dinner. The curtain was then drawn back on the main marquee which again was over eighty tables surrounding a central stage. The courses of the four course dinner were again interspersed with entertainment on the main stage, and this was again later turned over to the guests for the disco. They also once again had the dodgems – just the kind of thing to settle your stomach after dinner!

Perhaps the thing that didn’t quite work this year was the theme – as someone on our table put it “Do you suppose anyone who planned this has actually been to Egypt?â€? The dancers performed several times during the evening, with routines that had a vague hint of Arabian Nights at times, and then there was a fire-eater that turned up later on. There was a brief moment of Walk Like an Egyptian, but aside from that there was nothing that you could specifically tie up with the theme. In fact it got positively bizarre towards the end with some weird routine with the fire eater that looked like some sort of pagan ritual, and then an even more weird routine with a net curtain… Maybe as a table full of software engineers we’re not the ideal people to judge, but anyway, we didn’t quite get what was going on!

Head On

The food was pretty good though, although the goats cheese and spinach starter seemed to be a bit of a love it or hate it option. As before it all turned up piping hot despite the nearly 1000 guests in the marquee needing to be served. We didn’t stay much after dinner, as with it being a Wednesday night, Beth had to be up and awake for school the next morning. However we did manage to get on the dodgems before we went – pictures of that along with the rest of the evening can be found in our picture galleries.

All in all, it was a great evening, and hopefully we’ll get a chance to go along to whatever they put on next year.

A Quiet Last Day? No Way…

Maybe it was optimistic to expect my last day before the Christmas Holiday to be quiet…

So far this morning:

  1. Last parcel from Amazon turns up having been damaged in transit – and probably no time to replace the damaged contents. Just waiting for Amazon to get back to me. Update: Just got an e-mail from Amazon – replacement items being despatched first class.
  2. After half a days worth of testing, we’ve found a trailing space in a bit of test data. Following a quick fix, as it is a fully validated system we have to go all the way back to the start of the tests and start again.
  3. Just had a call from one of my colleagues who should be on annual leave today. His team is doing an install in Cardiff and got to site to discover that they’d left the install CD that he’d put together for them at home.
  4. Had a moderation request from the Affirming Liberalism site – Peter Ould probably about as opposite in Anglican terms as you can get has linked to the site under the category “heresy” pairing it up with an unrelated video and a comment about growing liberal Churches seemingly implying that he doesn’t think there are any… Of course he’s most welcome to come along and visit St James – but he’d probably have trouble finding a seat, especially over the next couple of days.

Anybody Any Good With Oranges and Cocktail Sticks?

Glow Stick Christingle

A few years back, St James would hold a single Christingle service on Christmas Eve, then came the year that 500 people all turned up…

After that the decision was taken to hold the service twice, at 2pm and 4pm, and to allocate seating using free tickets.

Roll on to this year, and we had three services planned, at 2pm, 4pm and 6pm, with 200 tickets for each. The tickets were made available at the beginning of December, and within days had gone, and we’ve had so many people phoning up wanting tickets, that we’ve now had to add a fourth Christingle service at 12 o’clock – and it looks likely that we’ll fill the Church then too.

That of course leaves us with one big problem, traditionally the junior choir have made the actual Christingle’s – not too much of a problem when we had one service, but with so many people coming along now, short of bringing child slavery to Finchampstead we need lots of extra help to put them all together. It’s not overly complicated – basically four cocktail sticks, a glow stick (much to the chagrin of the traditionalists the combination of small children, candles and a jam packed church was too much for Health and Safety), an orange and some red ribbon – but there are a lot to do. The production line gets going on Saturday afternoon at the Parish Centre!

Once those four services are done though, there is the other popular service, Midnight Mass – one service we can’t do more than once, so we just have to try and fit everybody in. Last year we had people standing in the vestry and more people standing in the north aisle – heaven knows where we’ll put people if more turn up this year.