Sunday 23 December 2012

Christmas is coming - oops, it's here!

Apologies for the long delay since my last post.   My excuse is that my feet seem to have barely touched the ground since I arrived back in England at the very end of November.   And now Christmas Eve is almost on us and one of the things on my long "To Do" list is to get a post up before the end of this coming weekend.   I might just manage it since at the moment there isn't a whole lot to report and all my dolls houses are in another country so can't have their photos taken.

As some of you will know, especially if you also follow butterfly's blog, we are moving out of our home of forty years and will be celebrating our last Christmas here.   So we went to great lengths to find the perfectly shaped christmas tree (butterfly is a perfectionist!) and from Christmas Day onwards we will sit with it by candlelight, trying to also have enough candles lit in the room to allow us to read, do quizzes, jigsaw puzzles and play games.  Sadly, trees do not photograph well but this will at least give you an idea of what we will be looking at over the Twelve Days of Christmas.  We turn into Christmas hermits....

In the other room, our giant ficus plants have had to wander upstairs to make space for the Giant Book Sales and so the Gisela Graham figures we collect each year at the post-Christmas Sale at the local garden centre are now hanging from bare branches, and one can actually see them much better.   

Cue digression:  We have four giant ficuses, lovingly grown over 25 years or so from Ikea plants of the week into the trees that they are now.   We are looking for permanent or temporary homes for them - possibly a church hall, big conservatory or some other large space.  I am happy to transport them a considerable distance to bring them to anyone who might be able to offer them lodging.   It is heart-breaking to have to abandon them when we leave for the Czech Republic at the end of February....

But now to happier things.   This blog post is really a Christmas stocking filled with assorted goodies that I hope you will enjoy - a Christmas interlude in an otherwise over-hectic time for me since it not only includes moving out of our house and setting up the museum but also that most hated of activities - buying a new car.   I cannot think of anything I hate more except perhaps going to the hairdresser.....

So the first thing you can pull out of the stocking is a refinement on the wonderful collection of Christmas creches I showed you at the end of my last post.   I did write about this amazing automated creche in the comments section of that post but just in case you missed it - here it is again.   Such giant creches, known as Betlems, are very common in the Czech Republic and Slovakia but I have never seen one quite as amazing as this.

Whilst I was still en route to England I had the opportunity of not only visiting that wonderful collection of creches but also the privilege of seeing a private collection of dolls and dolls houses near where I was staying outside Bonn.   I have permission to put some photos up and tell you a little about the collection though, since it is not open to the public, I can't of course give any details.  

The collection has been amassed over many years by a now elderly lady who began it when she dug out the body parts of tiny porcelain dolls from the rubbish dump used by a toy factory.  

This led to her reconstructing many hundreds of tiny dolls and then creating settings for them to live in.   Alongside this she was also collecting larger dolls and she now has a fantastic collection, all beautifully displayed upstairs in her not-very-large house.

There was so much to take at once that I simply did not know where to look.   Crammed onto the wide landing and into the small front room upstairs was a feast of wonderful things.   As with the creches, I am simply going to post photos without any commentary - they speak for themselves.   Remember that you can click on the photos to enlarge them to see more detail.....

She told me that one of her greatest pleasures, now that she is retired, is to take her early morning cup of coffee upstairs and simply to sit in her front room, surrounded by all the wonderful things she has collected and made.   I have already arranged to go back for another visit, this time with butterfly, so that we can get inspiration for the Bavorov museum.

This would seem a good point to post the delightful poem that my friend Andrea, of eclectic meandering, found in The Guardian and painstakingly copied into the Christmas card she sent me: 

Doll's House by Jacob Polley

A table set with tiny plates,

the chairs around a paper fire:
diminishment has simplified
the aims and objects of desire,
while blinder faith must still provide
the mincemeat in the wooden cakes,

the creaking stair and wind outside.

For you have held your breath to peer
along the shelves of depthless books
lining a room where nothing's read;
and now, effortlessly giant, look
up to the eaves and in at the beds.

Be brave. To live is not to fear

despite the scale of what's at stake.
Two children lie in matchbox cribs.
Next door a couple, stiff as pegs,
are tucked together, rib to rib,
the bedsheets bound around their legs.

What happens if you turn away?

Every god has asked the same,
crouched at a sideboard, just in case
sudden little laughter shakes
a heaven like an empty house
where not a plate nor day will break.

That feeling mentioned in the last verse - that something goes on whilst one's back is turned - is so very familiar to me!

Time now to pull a musical break out of the stocking - the fabulous group Chanticleer singing Everywhere I go.   Watch out for the rapid changes of costume.....

At the very bottom of this Christmas stocking you can find yet another wonderful display, this time from America. It is almost enough to put me off trying to produce anything half as good in my museum!  If you have wrapped all your presents and made all your mince pies then just sit back and enjoy it......

Finally, as Christmas rapidly approaches - in one hour's time it will be Christmas Eve here in England which means that my Czech and German friends, who are an hour ahead, are already celebrating Christmas - I should like to thank you for joining me on my museum journey and wish you all a joyous Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.   

See you again in 2013.......


  1. MaryR said in her comment on your last report that she "drooled" over the collection of creches. I'm drooling here, too, over that wonderful private collection of dolls, dolls' houses and furniture - but especially the china tea sets - there are so many different ones there, each one perfection in its own way. I'm so glad the owner allowed you to photograph so much of the collection and share it with us here.
    I love your Christmas tree - it fits so well into that corner. I'm sure that this last Christmas period in your present house will be filled with nostalgic moments as you build up memories of times past and look forward to what is to come both in the UK and in Baerov.
    Thank you for sharing all of this with us and all the very best both for this holiday season and in 2013.

  2. oooh what a lovely stocking - thank you :-) The tree looks wonderful, so if the photo doesn't do it justice, it must be splendid indeed. I set Chanticleer going while I investigated the rest of the stocking although I'm afraid I didn't manage the whole Epic Christmas Village - I was going to type "only in America", but clearly not.
    Happy, Happy Christmas xx

    1. Ah no - certainly not "only in America". I would give my eye teeth (whatever they may be) for a village like that....

  3. You must be in moving madness mode right now. I wish you the best. I can't wait to see how you set up your museum. Happy 2013!

    1. Not quite in moving madness mode (what a nice expression!)yet as daughter Butterfly and I are still recovering from seasonal lurgies. But needs must next week :-(

      Thanks for your good wishes :-)

  4. Que gran cantidad de tesoros, seguro que queda genial.
    besitos ascension

  5. Oh My Goodness. You have taken on a challenge-and-a-half. I have come by from "chatting" with Butterfly. Hubby and I love Czech and would love one day to move there, but for now we are just visitors as often as we can. The area you are in is not somewhere we have been, having been to Moravia and around. We will have to rectify that, maybe in a year or two!
    Good luck and say Hi to Czech for us won't you!

    1. I certainly will Hettie - Butterfly/Alison told me about your love of the Czechlands - maybe we will meet there one day! I've never been to Moravia but have heard it's very beautiful.

      Plenty of lovely places in South Bohemia as well though .......