IMG_1397 – hear Truro’s boy choristers singing Once In Royal David’s City
It’s beginning to look/feel/smell/sound* a lot like Christmas (*delete as applicable). It’s a hoary old cliché, I know, and one that has been used in countless headlines for weeks. But there is some truth in it. Much as I grumble about Christmas starting earlier every year, and hearing Stop The Cavalry in mid-November, secretly I look forward to those “dubba-dubba-dum-dums”. I even ordered my Christmas dinner ingredients in October from the Cornish Food Box Company, enticed by the offer of 10% off.
But the festive season really began for me last week, when Truro Cathedral’s boy choristers visited the officers CT shares with its sister newspapers. They had begun rehearsing their carols in earnest that morning, and had yet to decide who would have the immense privilege of singing the boy treble solo that opens the Nine Lessons And Carols on December 23 and 24 (for details of these and other services, see http://www.cornwalltoday.co.uk/truro-cathedrals-christmas-services/). Harry sang it for us that day, and a fine job he did too. I’m a sucker for a good carol concert, so I was glad I’d stayed a little late to hear it.
A few days later, I found myself away from Cornwall, at Bath’s famous Christmas market. It was everything a festive market should be – twinkling lights, tantalising smells and, most of all, local produce. None of your mass-produced bratwurst and gluwein here – only the finest food from around the South West, including the delectable Cornish blue cheese. We even managed to squeeze in shoppers’ carols in Bath Abbey, where we had top seats at the front, where the choir would normally sit. My 4-year-old nodded off on my lap, and promptly did a sleepy wee there (I don’t think anyone noticed – other than me, obviously). Later, we joined a ukulele flashmob singing Jingle Bells in Aldi. That’s variety for you.
You might have read that Daughter was been poorly at half-term, in and out of hospital with appendicitis and off school for a month. I’m pleased to say that she’s in fine fettle now, and returned to school just in time for all the Christmas activities. Yesterday I dashed from the CT staff Christmas lunch to the school carol concert (my first visit to the fascinating church at Kenwyn), just in time to see her thumb-sucking furiously and almost toppling over with fatigue. A few of her friends were in the same predicament, which reminds us just how young they are to be so busy.
In the evening, my partner and I tackled our Christmas card list head on, drinking St Ives Cider’s mulled Montol and listening to carols played by Penzance-based harpist Ruth Wall (The Three Harps Of Christmas, www.ruthwall.co.uk). It was all going so well until, having sealed and addressed any number of cards, my other half muttered: “I think I forgot to sign them.” Cue scissors, Sellotape and a withering look from me.
Today, I’ve come into the office to find a number of offerings: some Cornish – Camel Valley fizz and a couple of Sharp’s finest tipples; some not: a box of Roses, some authentic German stollen cake (make your own using Baker Tom’s recipe: http://www.cornwalltoday.co.uk/bake-stollen-cake/).
I ate my own body weight in chocolate while filling the advent calendar on November 30; but as everyone else in CT editorial has gone home until New Year, I might just have to take one for the team.
There are plenty more treats in store: I hope to sing carols with friends at St Piran’s Oratory on Sunday afternoon, weather permitting (the thought of being caught in a gale on the dunes does not fill me with Christmas cheer); and the Lappa Valley Santa train calls too.
Whatever you’re doing this Christmas, and wherever you’re doing it, I wish you the very happiest of holidays, and I look forward to rejoining you in the New Year.