Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Christmas in its many forms.....


And now it's Christmas in London, so I won't post more about Japan for now. I've been making cards for family members and busy looking through some of my pics for inspiration and images, so I thought I'd share some images of a London Christmas, as I've experienced it over some years. Christmas in its many forms....

Here's a Christmas cake I made a few years ago. I don't usually make cakes but this was for someone dear to me who loved ginger, and it had a lot of ginger in it, as you can see from the decoration.  I haven't got round to doing a cake this year, but never mind - a friend who is a magnificent cook unexpectedly sent me a home made stollen - what a bonus!  



T and I always like to go to Oxford St. and see Selfridge's Christmas windows. They are always really original.  This year, Selfridge's Santa is a playboy. So the windows show Santa in the jacuzzi, Santa in the sauna, Santa going dancing... and here he is with his cool mates in a glittery ski lift in his sequined robes, gold sparkly ski boots and golden poles.... 


This Santa in Camden Town wasn't living the high life but seemed to be very content to be sprawled in front of a splendid repast in a barber's shop. 



I happened to be passing Guys Hospital when I spotted this ...hm... festive character? They do say that doctors can have a rather black sense of humour! But there again, his eyes are made of champagne corks, and he has a very warm and good quality scarf... 


This Santa, spotted in the Oval area of SW London, made me smile.



I don't usually put pics of my family on this blog, so you must imagine the delighted faces there were when one of our daughters brought some treats back from a pre-Christmas trip to Paris a few years ago.  The display of cheese was almost too beautiful to eat (we did it eat it, though) and the macaroons from Fauchon were utterly elegant as well as delicious. Actually if you look closely you will see that one macaroon is already gone - it was shiny and bronze, like sculpture.  It really is true that nobody can do special food like the French.

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And what about these cakes, below, which I spotted in South London - how do you think they were decorated? It look almost as if they have been embossed. I'd love to know how it is done so please tell me if you know. 


I haven't heard as many carols as usual in the shops, and I am not sorry because I far prefer to hear real people singing carols.  (PS: written on 27 December: I posted something about Wham's "Last Christmas" but I was really sad to hear George Michael died on Christmas Day, so I've deleted it now. He was a good kind man who died far too young. ) 

I was happy to hear the children below, in their school choir, in Bermondsey, singing their hearts out.


This year I haven't gone to Kensington Palace to see what they're doing for Christmas. At the present rate of (non) progress I probably won't, this year.  It's usually interesting, and they manage to ring the changes pretty well on the theme of palaces and princesses. One year, though, I felt a distinctly eerie atmosphere.  A bit  "Last Year At Marienbad" air it as we walked amongst clipped trees in a park that had become very silent.



We left after the palace had closed for the night, and it has quite a different atmosphere when there's nobody there.


It really did seem slightly creepy....
 The staff at that time were telling us that the palace  was haunted by some kind of large dog but I didn't spot it.


I expect Queen Victoria and Albert's cooks at Kensington Palace ordered from the old established posh grocers, Fortnum and Mason, when preparing for Christmas. We usually like to take a look at Fortnums' decorations and window displays.  This year's window didn't appeal to us much, so I won't show you pictures. To be honest, I didn't really understand what they were on about.   Below, though, are some Christmas crackers from a year when colour and celebration were Fortnum's Christmas themes.  I can't even begin to imagine what the price was, but I seem to recall they had real jewellery inside.   



They also had suitably over the top ideas for Christmas decorations.  Not recommended for households with little kids - can't I see little hands closing on those sharp, spiky glass ornaments! But it was all so cheerful I almost felt like a child myself.


There was festive fish and chips for the less well-off in Stoke Newington...
 

And lights for everyone

  
A cherub in Kings Cross


About three years ago we were surprised to chance upon pens of real farm animals when we happened to walk out of  Herne Hill railway station. The aim was partly to show the local kids what real farm animals looked like, and there was a Christmas market spread around the neighbouring narrow streets. 



Every year the faithful Salvation Army comes out with its brass band at Christmas.  I took this picture yesterday in Oxford St. We gave them some money. Homeless people I have spoken to usually have good things to say about the Salvation Army, who treat them with kindly respect, they say. 


This, spotted through a pub indow in Dalston, shows some of the older generation meeting up like they have probably been doing for years, under the tinsel. 


And so back home.  Nothing like being on the top of a double decker bus! 

  Happy Christmas! 

60 comments:

  1. Have a merry Christmas, Jenny! And thanks for the pictures- a Christmas gift.

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    1. Thank you, and have a wonderful Christmas with your lovely family, I'll look forward to reading about it.

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  2. Thanks for the tour! Makes me feel a bit overwhelmed, I have to say... And a little worried about Santa. Somehow he doesn't seem quite himself these days (if he ever was)...

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    1. I remember getting a bit suspicious about Santa when I was 4 and he suddenly acquired brown glasses, but luckily I was reassured by my parents and glad to be so, if I recall. So I think you're right, there's always been something a bit strange about him.... :D

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  3. Love the skeleton in the Santa hat and I love ginger. Win, win.

    PS: Just out of curiosity, how come the avatars on your blog, don't show up next to the blogger names?

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    1. Thanks! I love ginger too, and think Christmas cakes should definitely have more! As for the avatars, this is yet another trial inflicted on me by Blogger. There's something wrong with the coding which means I can't change the colour scheme. This is a real pain for some readers who can't manage yellow on violet, get dazzled by it, but I have not managed to change that. For a long time I didn't accept comments as they would only appear yellow on white can you believe. Eventually I managed to fiddle it so that comments came out black on white - but the avatars never would appear.

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  4. Hi Jenny, loving those Santas in the shop windows - the window dressers must've chuckled all through those installations ;D)
    The 12 days cakes are clever - I'd be a collector if there!
    The childrens choir would have been so beautiful and uplifting.
    It was beaut to have a peek at life around the city.
    Thank you Jenny, always beaut to visit your blog - I've only just realised I haven't been "following" you so I corrected that just now (I keep your blog on my side-bar to catch up).
    Happy Christmas and lots of fun!! Cheers from Aussie-land :D)

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    1. Thank you for following Sue! I have a few blogs like that, who I am unable to follow for what must I guess be technical reasons. But I followed you a while ago and that DID work! I think that window dressing must be a really fun job at Christmas time. I think if I was a window dresser this would be my Christmas treat. Enjoy your Christmas!

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  5. You seem to have more imaginative decorations in the London area than we have up here. Home made stollen sounds good - I hope that you enjoy it and Happy Christmas when it comes.

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    1. Thank you - and the same to you. Yes, I am looking forward to trying the stollen!

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  6. Lovely and timely photos. I wish you a wonderful holiday and New Year!

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  7. What a beautiful post, filled with all the festive joys that surround us this time of year. These photos so make my desire to visit London again so much stronger than they already are! A very merry and happy Christmas time to you and your family as well!

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    1. Thank you Karen, this is such a lovely time of year. I hope you make it over here soon!

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  8. Happy Christmas, and thank you for the lovely photos!

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    1. Thank you Jackie, and I look forward to reading more of your posts next year. You have such a lovely mixture of different things in your blog.

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  9. Trying again!That was such fun!
    Have a wonderful Christmas with friends and family.

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    1. Thanks, Helen. If you were trying again because the first one didn't work, then no, it didn't, but thank you for trying again, and have a great Christmas!

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  10. This was one of the most festive Christmas posts I've read. Thanks for putting me in a holiday mood.

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    1. Thank you Stephen, I'm glad to hear that. I hope your Christmas is full of love.

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  11. The festive photos helped put me in a holiday mood. Your ginger cake is wonderful - as are the macaroons and cheese from France. The sign in the opticians window is so funny! And Kensington Palace looks elegantly creepy - I love it (well, all except the idea of a ghostly dog....).

    Believe it or not, I've never heard "Last Christmas" so I watched the video. It's not bad, but.....I wouldn't want to hear it multiple times....

    Warm holiday wishes to you and your family, Jenny!

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    1. Thank you Jon, and I hope that you have now managed to source some Namahage to keep the possums company in your garden! :D Happy Christmas !

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  12. London really knows how to do Christmas!! Have a lovely time, Jenny - and a peaceful New Year.

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  13. I agree that French food, made by French people, is wonderful. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

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    1. You too, Valerie. And thank you for reminding me that I left out the all important bit "made by French people" ! For sheer beauty of presentation, I think the Japanese are their equal but it is an entirely different style of food of course.

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  14. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones, Jenny!
    I like these glimpses of Christmas in London; not sure I want to imagine Santa as a playboy character, but the sign in the optician's window made me laugh.
    Your cake looks wonderful, and I am sure your ginger-loving friend was very happy with it.

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    1. I think it is fascinating how many different takes on Santa there are! I am surprised nobody has done a book about it. Happy Christmas to you and your loved ones, Meike!

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  15. Wonderful pictures, Jenny - they made me smile. I'm not a huge fan of Wham!'s Last Christmas, but I confess to enjoying Christmas music in general - provided I don't start listening to it until mid-December at the earliest. I think Fairytale of New York and Happy Xmas (War is over) both do it for me - though it's hard to beat some of the croony (and possibly corny) classics from the USA. And carols - of course! Have a wonderful Christmas - thanks for all your posts and comments. PS - sorry you didn't like the cards - I chose them especially... :-)

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    1. I love the Christmassy feel of carols and if songs are only played at Christmas time then songs sort of become a bit like carols, don't they?(Between you and me, I have over the years become secretly slightly fond of WHAM's effort.) I do still greatly prefer them live, though. I am very sorry for saying the wrong thing about the cards, I can only confess that in my advanced age I am getting better about not blurting out my thoughts - and yes, this will no doubt leave you wondering what on earth I must have been like when younger :/ !

      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and look forward to more posts from you in 2017, enabling me to add yet more places to my bucket list and, I hope, visit some of them too.

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  16. Thank you! Beautiful post and narrative Happy Holidays!
    The live animals are giggle worthy cute. I'm reminded that I visualized the UK as larger cities with rolling farm fields and quaint country villages just outside their windows. You provide a reality perspective that doesn't quite reach my brain via television.

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    1. The UK is quite varied and there can be rolling landscapes and country cottages quite near city centres. Mind you, few sheep are seen these days grazing on the streets of Greater London! :) Have a wonderful Christmas and thanks for all your attractive and often thought provoking posts over the year.

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  17. Merry Christmas dearest Jenny and may this new year bring you joy and laughter. To be happy is the greatest wish in life!
    Love, Olympia

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    1. Thank you Olympia, and enjoy your Christmas too!

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  18. Merry, Merry Christmas Jenny! These were great holiday pics. Blessings to you and yours in 2017! :)

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    1. And merry Christmas to you too Rita!

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  19. The people of East Belfast seem to be getting keener and keener on Christmas decorations. Every street has houses festooned with twinkling lights, plastic Santas, wreaths, and the usual "Santa stop here" signs. It's getting a wee bit excessive.

    The Fortnum's Christmas crackers are the most beautiful I've seen. So beautiful I don't think I could bring myself to rip them in half!

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    1. I can't remember the price, but I seem to remember thinking that if I had them, I wouldn't use them either- would have to frame them at that price. :)

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  20. Oh Jenny, I think I've loved this post as much as any or all I've seen! It's filled with sights from one of my favorite cities in the world at the season I love most! I'd love to have been with you to go to Selfridges and K-Palace or to Fortnums. Those crackers were so beautiful, even if they were a few years old! The cheese plate, the lights, the Santas -- oh, biggest sigh!

    I think there might be some kind of writing pen that does an edible ink and I'm thinking those cakes were decorated using that. I'm not sure -- seems like I saw one somewhere and you could probably do it on fondant, that would be "hard" enough. But they had to take someone a lot of time!

    I think your Christmas card is coming back to me. I have a very bad feeling I didn't put enough postage on it and that it got put in the domestic pile instead of the non-domestic. Well, maybe I'll try for New Year's or Valentine's day -- suitable for how much I love your blog!

    Meanwhile I wish you and your family all the best this Christmas!

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    1. Thank you for thinking first of sending me a card Jeanie, and second going to the trouble of buying and writing one. It truly is the thought that counts! I always love your wonderful comments, and I wish you could be here too. Have a warm and happy Christmas, in your most beautifully decorated home.

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  21. What a wonderful Christmas round-up. London is such a magical place, isn't it. So many funny Santas, and the Selfridges one really amused me, Santa as a playboy is unique! Merry Christmas to you and your family - I hope it is fabulous :)

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    1. I hadn't seen a Playboy Santa before!

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  22. Today we are also having fish and chips - driving to Danby station and catching the train to Whitby. Taking in a few shops, fish and chips then returning home again on the train. A few charity shops too - Whitby has a good selection. Merry Christmas from Yorkshire.

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    1. I love Whitby, one of the most fun towns in Britain IMO. What a good place to go for Christmas shopping.

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  23. Jenny, I've really sunk in London's Christmas atmosphere, it was good recollection. I liked your shots from Oxford street, shop windows, bright lights. Thanks for good stroll with you.
    I wish you and your big family a Merry Christmas, joyful gifts and fun!

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    1. Thank you Nadezda, and a Happy Christmas to you!

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    2. Dear Jenny,
      Happy New year 2017! С Новым годом!

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  24. Great set of Christmas photos. It's a beautiful time of year. Merry Christmas to you!

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  25. I love ginger...and I put a load of it into my Christmas cakes...I always do! :)

    I wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas, Jenny...take care...stay safe...enjoy. :)

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  26. Thank you for this lovely tour through your various Christmases, Jenny! It's great to see all the original ideas that people come up with. I was very entertained by the skeleton with champagne corks for eyes, though. Have a wonderful festive season with your family! All my very best! x

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  27. There's something about decorated shop windows that will put you into the Christmas mood. Thanks for sharing your photos!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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  28. Hopefully you are over that nasty bug, a real bad one going around.
    Hopefully also you have had a good Christmas and enjoying life.
    However now I canny get that bloody song out of my head! Thanks a bunch!!!

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  29. What a super Christmassy post. I loved the opticians Ho, ho,ho... And that cheese had me drooling.

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    1. Had us drooling too John! I hope you had a great Christmas :D

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  30. I love that song and it’s even more poignant now, given the news of George Michael’s death yesterday. For me it’s nostalgia; my husband was in the Falklands and I bought this for my daughter, whilst my son had ‘Walking in the Air’ in his stocking. The songs and the memories will always be linked. Thank you for all the Christmas pictures.

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    1. I felt terrible when he died and at Christmas too. I'm not pleased with my self for being so rude about it (sigh). I'm getting round to the idea that I might remove my remarks about the song from the post. It's funny how some songs can take you back. Radio Ga Ga by Queen ... Mighty Real by Jimmy Somerville.... Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel...

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  31. Oh no, I LIKE "Last Christmas"!! HA!!
    My son recorded it also, maybe you would like his version.
    After we listened to it, we were surprised to hear that George Michael had died.
    Also, wasn't George Michael on the BANDAID Christmas record? Surely you liked that one! :-)
    Happy Boxing Day! Love your photos as always. x

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    1. Oh, I'm sorry I said that about "Last Christmas" now, because I believehe was a really nice person and I am sad that he has died. I am wondering whether to take that bit of my post out altogether. I might do. "Last Christmas" has always made me feel depressed just because the words are so downbeat but yes, he was a good singer and had wonderful stage presence too.

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  32. I loved reading your London Christmas and seeing the pictures. I only went to Herne Hill recently for the first time and thought it was lovely. I would love to see the real farm animals! Wishing you and your family a very happy new year!

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  33. I love all these festive Christmas posts. I did know about Alice in Wonderland in Japan-however time did not permit me a visit. It looks like a wonderful spot to visit.

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