Sunday, 4 December 2016

Here comes Advent - Week Two

This second Sunday in Advent brings with it a somewhat eclectic post, covering, as it does, trains, extraordinary enthusiasm for a hobby, and, as befits Christmas, a little music.

Trains and Christmas have always seemed to me to go together somehow - travelling home for the holidays, riding through a snowy landscape, perhaps getting stranded - or even murdered.   A scenario used in more than one novel, not only in the iconic Murder on the Orient Express (which as the fabulous children's magazine Look and Learn records is based on a real life incident with the train) but also in J. Jefferson Farjeon's Mystery in White, something very readable to add to your Christmas reading list. 

Small houses with candles inside have always delighted me and we have several around the room at Christmas.   Tiny villages too have their attractions as may be seen at the end of a previous Yuletide post. 

But I have so far managed to resist the temptations of the boxed, lit villages that appear around Christmas time.   Well, I thought I had, until I was scrabbling around in the loft in my house in Bavorov earlier this year and found, to my amazement, precisely one of those village sets, albeit a very small one.   I then remembered that they had been on offer in the Penny supermarket at some point and I had succumbed.....

It seemed a shame to leave it there, neatly packed in its box.  I shall not unpack it in front of a video camera however - I have spent some of this evening watching in jaw-dropping amazement the extraordinary phenomenon of Unboxing Videos, a concept previously completely unknown and still incomprehensible to me - since in any case I handed the task of setting it up for Small Worlds to the ever-helpful Jana..... 

The plan was to put the village and the clockwork train I happened to have to hand, onto a board in the Stables and leave it for another Jana to move it into Small Worlds in time for the Christmas Market on 10th December.   But sadly we had no boards available that were big enough for the train to run round the houses so we had to compromise with a stationary train.  A train bound for nowhere.....

An unholy tangle..... 

Well, at least the wires are straight now.....

Happy Christmas!

Now to be honest, I was quite happy with our little effort  until I started exploring YouTube for videos of Christmas railway layouts.   Not only are there hundreds of these, of huge and mind-blowing complexity, but there are even more Christmas villages, set up by people in their living rooms for the Christmas season....I had no idea!

And when I came across this one I could only sit back and marvel in awe at the lengths to which people will go in their enthusiasm for their hobby.   Or am I a pot calling the kettle black perhaps?

I shall be back with further Advent cheer next Sunday but in the meantime I leave you with what was actually the reason for a train-related post - one of my favourite songs. To my utter delight I have not only found it in the original film version, enhanced to stereo, but also complete with Christmas decorations! Enjoy.....


  1. What a Christmas box of treats - the phenomenal "enthusiasm" (I think there are other words for it too) evident in the time lapse village setting-up, and the marvellous Look and Learn article, but wonder of wonders is definitely the Glenn Miller clip... thank you for that!

  2. Your post made me smile for several reasons.

    Oh those people who can never open a box without recording exactly what is inside.... how do they get through Christmas gift opening in time to eat Christmas dinner?! It really is both annoying to watch the videos ( I managed to get through two, just out of curiosity and nearly died of boredom), and fascinating to me as a psychologist at the same time. WHY do they think we would share their delight?!

    The mention of snowy day train journeys brought back memories too - travelling home from school in December 1962 and being stuck in a snowdrift for 7 hours was the less comfortable one, but oh, the pleasure of watching the film version of The Box of Delights with my children in the 80s. Seeing snowy scenes, steam trains and 'old fashioned' childhood clothes and entertainment as the snow fell outside our own house - unusual in London - was a real treat. I love snow.

    And those little houses that can be lit up... I have always wanted one, but never quite got round to buying one......should I? YES, we have a little grandson to enjoy it with us now, so I'm off to hunt one down.

    1. I'm am glad I made you smile because I have just read your post about the Sylvanian barge and it made me laugh a lot :-)

      I share your puzzlement about the box-opening. I can't get into such boxes fast enough and usually end up ripping the box to shreds in the process, moaning about how no-one cares about arthritic hands. I don't think anyone would want to film me doing it!

      I hope you find some delightful little houses. We keep two of ours out all year and then a few more appear over Christmas.

      I have just reminded myself of The Box of Delights and we shall watch it over Christmas, along with our traditional 1981 and 1983 Kings Singers BBC recordings, A Christmas Lantern (1982)and an episode of Sapphire and Steel that ended up on the same video tape.

      Happy Christmas to you too....

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this post Cestina! I really miss the musicals of days gone by. Wonder why it is we throw the baby out with the bath water. And I sure remember Chattanooga Choo Choo!
    Sandy xx

  4. Well - I know which layout I prefer! Yours is charming and modest. I became exhausted about half-way through watching "this one". Whilst marvelling at the effort and commitment, I can't help categorising it as Vulgar.
    Thank you for the Chattanooga clip - sheer joy. Also thanks for reading recommendation - I shall seek it out.
    Looking forward to next Sunday.
    Andrea xx

  5. I bought 3 Lemax Christmas village houses and some people a few years ago when you could buy items from Dobbies Garden Centres with Tesco vouchers ( I saved them up). I added a few more people each year but have decided not to put them out this year and have a small dolls house Santa display out instead.