Another Christmas Past

Posted on December 31, 2012 by

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Phew! Survived another one without (as far as I know) upsetting anyone. Also managed to avoid divorce and alcoholic poisoning. In fact Christmas was less of a nightmare than usual. Far less. Even the shopping was hassle free. No. Better than that. Enjoyable. We started at The Art Nest, a bijou gallery which sells original works by local artists, designers, jewelers, glass makers and photographers. We fess to a vested interest. Emmeline not only stocks The Little Book of Hitchin and not only arranged a Mulled Wine and Minced Pie signing but agreed to sell photographs taken by himself. The Art Nest is nothing if not inspiring, it’s simply not possible to leave without wanting to dust off the HBs. Then it was around the corner to to meet up with Alison the manager of Waterstones to do a signing for The Little Book of Hitchin, Hertfordshire’s Secrets & Spies, Royal Hertfordshire: Murders and Misdemeanours and The Secret Lives of Hertfordshire Writers. There was a lovely festive atmosphere with wine, nibbles and live music. Local resident Martha, mother of Jonathan Ross, was doing a Christmas Reading and Lily Norman, his talented niece was wowing Christmas shoppers with her amazing voice and keyboard skills. We are so lucky to still have a Waterstones, although Lynne Truss will not approve of the Company plan to do away with the apostrophe. Maher’s has long gone, along with the Indie book shop in Churchyard. The thing about Waterstones is this. Yes, Amazon may be cheaper but you have to know what it is you want. In a shop you stumble across writers you would never have heard of and books you would never know existed. Himself, by nature a Tablet Freak, bought Shit London 2 and F in Exams which made him laugh and Phaidon’s The Photo Book. Next it was on to Hexton Village Hall, to Country Matters (who stock The Little Book of Hitchin) and The Lavender Tea Room. I wrote about the village in Hertfordshire A-Z. It also gets an honourable mention in my (as yet unpublished) book on Harkness Roses. Country Mattters is another wonderful showcase for local talent. A veritable Aladdin’s Cave selling everything from hand knitted brooches to pottery cats. As for The Lavender Tea Room, you get what it says on the tin. Everything is really, truly home made. We finished our shopping in Down Memory Lane. The Best Christmas Shop in Hertfordshire. A Wonderland of Twinklement’. And so it is. Beautiful rings, bracelets, necklaces, ear rings made with imagination from bits and bobs by the woman who owns what can only be described as an emporium. Christmas Day was spent with a few of the nearest and dearest for lunch in a Maidenhead hostelry. Perfectly acceptable it was too especially the Baked Alaska. Himself took especial delight in the roadside bill board. ‘Try our Signature Dish. Choice of Three’. ‘Must have three chefs’ he smiled. As lunch went on well into the afternoon we booked a room for the night. After a stroll along the Thames on an unseasonally balmy evening, it was with joy we fell on the Room Service Menu before turning in. Alas, the carried away copywriter forgot to keep the Night Porter in the loop. Astonished we had the chutzpah to order anything, he reluctantly agreed to a cheese sandwich. Plus a Peroni we said. Oh, he bristled, if you want wine I’ll have to find the key to the Bar. It’s beer we said. Still. We were very lucky not to go to bed with rumbling stomachs. Nothing was open. All was dead as the proverbial but all in all, a very satisfactory Winter Solstice.

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