I left home Sunday afternoon for a twenty four hour trip to London - firstly to deliver flowers to Auntie Peggy. I managed what M&S couldn't! Then onto Liz & Jon with a futon. We put the futon together - and then I went to sleep.
Up early this morning to prepare for Tuesday's Housegroup. We are using David Coffey's Advent book - which I would recommend to anyone. However I discovered I needed to prepare a Jesse Tree. I followed the websites listed - but then discovered this one which has some great images I can download and use.
I was a little confused by some of the Jesse Tree information on the internet - the implication being that many Christians [particularly Roman Catholics] now use a Jesse Tree because Christmas Trees are pagan things. I always thought they started off with St Boniface. According to tradition, when he chopped down the pagan Thor's Oak at Geismar, Boniface [born in Devon] claimed a tiny fir tree growing in its roots as the new Christian symbol. He told the heathen tribes:
- "This humble tree's wood is used to build your homes: let Christ be at the centre of your households.
- Its leaves remain evergreen in the darkest days: let Christ be your constant light.
- Its boughs reach out to embrace and its top points to heaven: let Christ be your comfort and your guide."
So the fir tree became a sign of Christ amongst the German peoples, and eventually it became a world-wide symbol of Christmas.
So this year we shall have both Jesse Tree and Evergreen! The latter will be beautifully decorated with the accumulated ornaments of the last thirty years - the former with laminated cut-outs!
Round about 10am,Liz and I set off for the Royal Academy.
This plaque is round the corner from her place. We are a family of geeks and nerds!
The bus ride was fun - so many of the streets and shops are already decorated ready for Christmas
Opposite the RA is Fortnum and Mason
Fortnum and Mason's window was full of mouthwatering goodies
- but most of them way too expensive for my pocket. And the less exotic foodstuffs [Marmite, Heinz ketchup etc] seemed to be considerably more expensive than the same items in Sainsburys!
Their fabulous cake counter had Scrabble tiles on top.
F&M Christmas Windows - based on "The Snow Queen"
You can see the Royal academy reflected in the window- that was where Liz and I went to see the Byzantium exhibition. Mindblowing!
Are you an iconophile or an iconoclast?
I cannot begin to describe the beauty of these artefacts - wonderful use of colour, intricate craftsmanship, fabulous embroidery, shining niello work, micro-,mosaics,glowing illuminated books - all done for the greater glory of God. I felt slightly guilty about my plans to dash home and shove some hastily printed sheets through a laminator!
Maybe if I sat up all night I could embroider a couple of dozen ornaments to hang on the Jesse Tree!
Sanity prevailed, and I realised that time was limited. I would have to produce great masterpieces at some other time.
Pondered a lot on the idea of icons and imagery - and when do these things provide inspiration - and when do they produce idolatry?
On balance a set of laminated pictures would be better for Housegroup - the last thing I want is for people to spend the evening admiring my stitchery.
We walked on to Hyde Park for the Winter Wonderland German Christmas Market - wish I could skate!
This guy was selling reindeer hides. I wondered if he was related to Sarah Palin.
Liz and I were not really too taken with nay of the eating places on offer. The poor roast pig looked really miserable!
Here's Liz - the sun in her eyes - enjoying some mulled cherry wine.
My photo makes her look slightly squiffy, She wasn't -honestly!
A fabulous display of little tin toys - but when I saw the prices, i resisted the urge to buy Bob a model motorbike.
The Haunted Mansion was HUGE, with bizarre sections in luminous green paint.
There were lots of rides and things in the Market, including a lovely helter-skelter, a big wheel, a roller coaster and smaller carousel type rides.
We resisted the urge to go on anything else, and strolled through the park to Knightsbridge to look for some lunch.
I had just put my camera away when we saw a tourist feeding a grey squirrel. "Not a good idea" said Liz - the woman stopped giving him crumbs and walked away, then screamed as the creature actually ran up her trouser leg!
We were walking past a hotel in Knightsbridge when a guy in an amazing check suit got out of a taxi. "That man is wearing Mr Toad's Outfit" declared Liz.
And below it is a picture of the man we saw this afternoon in Knightsbridge.
[Liz hid behind a pillar when I got my camera out - I think she was embarrassed!]
Check out his amazing 'correspondent' shoes!! Rumour has it this shoe was originally invented for playing cricket! The darker areas were considered to be the ones that were most strained during the sport. Bryan Johnston the cricket commentator was certainly very fond of them.
We walked on to EAT and had healthy salads for lunch, then looked at Harrods Christmas Decorations.
We got buses back to Elephant'n'Castle, then I drove home - reaching Leicester at 7pm.
All in all a very satisfying trip. Lovely to see family members, and fun to see the sights of London. Bob seems to have had a busy and productive time in my absence- and had got a super meal ready for my return.
Spent the evening printing out stuff for the Jesse Tree, then laminated and trimmed all the shapes whilst watching 'Spooks'. [I do enjoy that programme, but I wish they wouldn't keep killing off significant characters!!]
And now I am going to bed, in order to get rested for tomorrow.