12 December 2016

festive frolics

Beyond the Back Garden 

Welcome to the first in a new series that will run monthly throughout 2017 and beyond? Beyond the Back Garden will take a candid look at life in the rural setting of the Chiltern Hills, an area of outstanding natural beauty that London's outskirts gently touch. I'll be of on adventures, meeting some of the regions characters, exploring its nooks and crannies. So settle back with a glass of pre Christmas sherry, and enjoy the first edition. Which has a distinctly festive feel to it. Although you wouldn't realise that when the first picture is of a sheep! 

live nativity

Ewe do you think you are! 

Its not often that you get the chance to walk a sheep up your local high street! 

Well that's exactly what happened this Saturday, as our local village set about getting into the true spirit of Christmas, by hosting its third 'Live Nativity.' Live because it features all manor of animals including the sheep above, whose name has long since left my memory. Robert? Beatrice? No gone! 

The animals form just a small part of the 'organised mayhem' that is our nativity. Not my words, words from observers. Who thoroughly enjoyed it, I may add. It goes like this; there are scenes of key stages in the nativity story. Mary & Joseph heading to Bethlehem. The Kings setting out to follow the star, and our little moment as the shepherds. Each scene takes place in a different part of the village, and visitors are guided through by a narrator with a sound system. The crowds, and there were many this time, follow the donkey on its journey, dodge cars as they cross roads and enjoy the individual scenes.  St Francis of Assisi back in 1223 created the first nativity scene. I wonder what he'd make of ours?

live nativity

'Catch that sheep!'

I'd like to think that we were the stars, but we weren't. The animals take centre stage. Especially the sheep that decided it had had enough and bolted over the fence! Caught magnificently by one of the support team before it was headed off into the gloom (typically cloudy with some drizzle) or possibly the pub! Lines delivered or should I say 'ad-libbed!' we proceeded or the sheep proceeding to lead us up the high street toward the final, and most significant scene, the nativity. Goats, the donkey (showing its arse!) and an alpaca mingled with the crowds, and a real life, stand in, baby Jesus. Carols were sung, mince pies & tea had as the finale.

On a Serious Note 

A Live Nativity is a wonderful way to get the Christmas story across, in a setting that's not restricted by religious boundaries, i.e. a church. It's in the open air, available for all, young and old. It's great fun, people sing, laugh and it helps bring the community together. So what's not to like about it? 

There are many of these events being held around the UK and the world. The US seems particularly keen. I'd recommend it to everyone. Although having always performed (well tried too!), its hard to tell exactly what the rest of it was like. I hear it goes down a storm each year.  Roll on next year, more ad-libs and escaping sheep and plenty of Christmas cheer! 


Festive Frolics 

The following day our village, which by the way is on the edge of the Chilterns, about an hours train ride from the big city, held its first Christmas street festival. It wasn't that large, so I'm not going to compare it to the larger Christmas markets dotted about our fair land and beyond into Europe. This was our little one and although small it was a great start. It attracted a good crowd, so here's hoping for bigger and better next year. Here in no particular order is what I thought..

Christmas festival

* Stalls - a mix of the tacky, to the handcrafted. Perhaps could have done with a few more European style stalls? 

* Rides - strictly for the little ones. Although if I'd have gone on it I'd probably have been sick! Reminds me of a ride I took at Brighton Pier. I got spun around so much, at the request of those I was with! I spent the next two or three hours lying on Brighton's pebbly beach trying to recover! Never, never again! 

* Warm wine - I didn't have any. £5 for a glass! Shocking. Please, £3 maybe, but £5. Can buy a bottle (just about) for that or gone home made my own and returned to the high street, cup in hand. 

* Extremely loud music - The local Estate Agent decided that the world needed to hear their festive choice of tunes. Some hit, most miss! It was loud. I wouldn't be surprised if passing aircraft, we're on the Heathrow & Luton flight path, didn't divert due to the sound waves or just because the choice in tunes would have ruined their flight!

* Lights - There were lots of lights, hence why I took pictures of them. Lights just add something don't they? Makes everything seem so warming and comforting. 

christmas festivals

Its all about lights isn't it? 

Street festivals are great. That's official. Alright this wasn't Notting Hill Carnival or the Day of the Dead parade. It was our little festival and I was proud of it. Throughout the land, in the cities and towns there will be others taking place. What's not to like about them? They get you out of your chair. They help the local economy, you see your neighbours! Street festivals and events like the Live Nativity help to keep rural communities going, so "All hail" to them and all the others dotted throughout the world. Festive frolics indeed. 

Beyond the Back Garden will return in January. Thanks as always for your support and messages. Here's hoping you all have some festive frolics before the merriment of Christmas really kicks in. 


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