06 December 2009

Christmas house

Recipe (such as it is) over at Recipes for Millie.

Lanterns, Santa and clementines

We headed up to the Alnwick Garden yesterday - this time it wasn't a common or garden visit (geddit?), but a lantern-making day for their lantern parade to welcome in Father Christmas.

M had a fabulous time with her Dad and Grandpa making the lantern above - lots of pieces of willow, with an old-school candle in the centre (none of this tea-light nonsense), overlaid with tissue paper rubbed all over in a solution of pva. Messy, brilliant fun (I still love that sensation of peeling glue off your fingers that I enjoyed at primary school), and glorious when lit up.

We paraded with hundreds of others through the dark and dank gardens (the paths lit by flares), carrying our lanterns. The trail led us through the winding cherry orchard, into the walled garden where more lanterns floated on the pond, and then down through the trees to a lantern-lit grove where Santa stood handing out clementines.

The girl was enthralled.

01 December 2009

Cheap days out (2): Christmasland

...otherwise known as your local garden centre. For some strange reason, garden centres have turned themselves into Christmas emporiums. I'm not complaining - it's an excellent way to spend a morning with a small person, as long as you budget for buying a bauble.

We trotted off to the Peter Barratts garden centre in Gosforth, which features an animatronic reindeer, donkey, calf and (my favourite) a life-size camel. It also has a fantastic range of Christmas kitsch - we particularly liked the all-singing, all-dancing Victorian villages complete with fibre-optic snowmen - some rather fancy trees, and more baubles than you can shake a stick at.

We came home with a sparkly snowflake. Not a bad trip out for £1.99...