December Diary: Christmas Tree Show, Victorian Markets and Owl Cuddles.
Welcome to a new ‘Dear Diary’ series I’m doing every Sunday in December, which I’ve originally called December Diary.
Oh my goodness, not only did I get 100% in the festive mood yesterday, but I also got to recreate some childhood memories and hold an owl. A freakin’ owl!
When I was a child my mum and grandma used to hold stalls at craft fairs up and down the country. They could be anywhere but one that we went to every year was in Kettering (of the recent ‘Lindsay Lohan wouldn’t switch on the Christmas lights’ saga) and every year there would be an animal charity there. They would brings all kinds of owls and let you hold them and, as I had to entertain myself all day whilst my family worked on their stalls, I would hold the owls every day, every time we went (I also became pretty good at circus tricks I’ll have you know- but that’s a whole blog post in itself!).
I quickly fell in love with these beautiful birds, from the way their feathers are so soft that you barely know you’re touching them, to how the wind feels across your face as they flap their wings when being placed on your gloved arm. They quickly became my favourite birds.
Why am I telling you this? Well, yesterday, myself, my mum, my stepdad and my dog went on a festive family day out to a local Christmas market and guess who was there?! Yes, eeek, the pet rescue charity was there with its owls! Obviously I would have kicked myself, and probably cried myself to sleep, if I had passed up the chance to hold one of my favourite birds again.
I chose a lovely little brown and white barn owl called Flash, who had been a little grumpy earlier in the day (I don’t blame him to be honest. People make me grumpy too), but who was fine with me. My dog was moved to a safe distance because, despite being humongous, is actually quite scared of everything including tiny little, gorgeous owls. Flash, in true owl form, flapped his wings as he was being placed onto my hand and quickly re positioned himself so he could get a good look at my dog, Maisy.
I posed for a couple of photos with my new pal, who, after getting a bit bored of looking at my dog, seemed quite content with me, and I stroked his lovely soft feathers and enjoyed the feel of them on my fingertips- a feeling I’ve missed from my childhood. I spoke to one of the handlers who told me he’d got a dog just like Maisy who was terrified of the owls when they first moved into his garden avery, but who now loves them. He also told me their names and ages; obviously the biggest one was the youngest. His name was Junior.
I held him and stroked him for a few minutes until a little queue started forming and I reluctantly handed Flash back *sobs*.
Just hand me an owl and I’ll be happy for days!
Anyway! Before the happy owl incident we’d originally gone to the town to check out the Christmas tree show in the Church, and have a wander around the Victorian Fayre.
Every year the local church gets local businesses, schools, charities and even families to decorate their own tree- or their own version of a tree- to put on display for a weekend in December. For £2 a person you can enter and spend a good hour or so reading about the trees, admiring the handiwork of the people involved, drink mulled wine by the alter and write your own in loving memory decoration to hang on a remembrance tree.
I’m not religious in the slightest but I recently found a new love of churches in Zagreb and I think this is a lovely place to have this type of event. It also does a great job of merging the two current meanings of Christmas into one inclusive event which every one can enjoy- the church and the religious trees represent the biblical meaning of the holiday, and the trees represent the more secular, Santa and presents, meaning of Christmas. I think that’s cute.
There exhibition/show/whatever you want to call it began with a tree in the font, decorated by the churches baptism crew (I didn’t know that was a thing either). This kind of set the tone a little as there were ones made out of bike wheels, one by pedigree with baubles made out of dog treats, and a full monty tree which was slightly sparse except for the hat on the top (clever!). Western Power had gotten in on the action by decorating an electricity pylon, Yamaha has gone all out and made a motorbike all festive, and there was even a completely knitted tree! There were plenty of white ones that I took photos of for inspiration for our own white tree this year, there were cute ones decorated by local schools, and there were funny ones like the PMS one from a local tea rooms decorated with mini bottles of wine and chocolate bars.
My favourite trees, however, were the ones with meaning, submitted by very important charities. The mental health charity Mencap had put together a communication tree which showed people how to get help when they’re suffering from mental health problems, that it’s okay to talk about your illness and that they’re not alone. As I mentioned in this post a few days ago mental illness is a cause close to my heart, and as a psychology graduate I’m happy to see mental health charities at the forefront of community events like this.
A Parkinsons charity also had a tree decorated with handmade shoes and baubles documenting people’s own experiences with the disease. The tree was called ‘take a walk with us’ and called on the observers to put yourself in a Parkinson’s sufferers shoes and just imagine their struggles. Local hospitals and healthcare centres also submitted trees, and there was a tree put together by local animal shelters which included cute pictures of the animals up for adoption and a phone number to make an appointment to see about adopting them.
On the outside this looks like a fun little way to spend an hour on a festive day out, but underneath all of that it’s actually really important for charities, and it’s a good way to see which businesses are worth giving your money to. If they’re not involved in something like this you have to ask yourself why, don’t you? You have a business in a small town but you’re not getting involved in community events? Hmm.
After that we had a wander through the town centre and the Victorian Fayre. The town is taken back in time to Victorian Britain, so all the stall holders have to dress as victorians and Queen Victoria herself is even there! There’s a stage where various acts throughout the day perform, Punch and Judy shows, Morris dancers, and more entertaining the crowds on the streets. Santa is there on his sleigh, there are various food and gift stalls and this year there was even a snow queen ice sculpture. Sweet.
It was late afternoon when we were there so we missed a whole load of the entertainment but it was still fun to soak up the atmosphere, none-the-less. We tried some Eastern European cuisine, walked around whilst a singer entertained on stage, oh , and did I mention that I held an owl??
All-in-all it was a good day and I’m feeling very festive now! I’ve spent my whole childhood hating the fact that I don’t come from a big city, but sometimes you’ve just got to embrace that small community life, y’know? And what better time to do it than at Christmas time?
So, screw you Hyde Park Winter Wonderland*, I don’t need you and your long queues because I’ve got festivities galore right here in this little town, thank you very much!
*I’ll still come and see you one day, Winter Wonderland, just to see what all the fuss is about!
Has anyone done anything festive just lately? Let me know in the comments!
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