Christmas tree

Carrying home the Christmas tree

No matter how prepared we think we are, the first day of selling Christmas trees always sneaks up and almost catches us out. All week Bill and Jack have filled the Christmas Tree Barn with trees, set out the tree stands  and hung up the first wreaths  on the display board. There was a slight panic today when we couldn’t find the Christmas lights but now everything is in place ready to open the Christmas Tree Barn tomorrow for the 2016 season.

It’s good to welcome back old customers and meet new ones, especially when they’re a new generation of families that have been coming here for decades though it makes me feel old when a proud mother wheels in a pushchair and it feels hardly any time since her mother did the same thing.

New customers, particularly those who’ve never bought a real Christmas tree before, often phone us before they visit as they worry about how they’ll transport their tree home. We explain that once a tree is netted, it doesn’t take up much room and unless it’s particularly large it will probably fit in their car, especially if the back seats can be laid flat. That said, we’ve seen trees disappearing down the drive in many different ways.

carrying home the Christmas tree

One year, a chap turned up on a bicycle and strapped the tree to his saddle and wheeled it away (though he hasn’t been back with his bike since). There are a few families who regularly walk here and carry their tree back between them, some people arrive in a large van while others tow a small trailer. Possibly the most romantic, especially if there’s snow, is the family that pile into a trailer that’s towed by a vintage tractor.


Convertible cars seem another popular option; once the roof is lowered, the tree can be slid into the front seat and safely strapped into place. Unfortunately, this usually means the passenger has to walk home.


Carrying home the Christmas Tree on a Land Rover

But for many people, the only way to carry home the Christmas Tree is to strap it to the top of the car. Christmas music playing on the stereo is compulsory along with Christmas jumpers and festive hats.

If you’re planning to get your tree soon, there’s some tips below.

how to choose a wonderful Christmas tree


Do you have a preferred way to carry home your Christmas Tree?

Or maybe you have an artifical tree or don’t have one at all.

Do tell.

hand made Christmas

Of sparkling things and fripperies

Christmas tree in a bauble

This post comes with a warning that it contains words such as festive, baubles and Christmas. If you feel that any talk of Christmas is premature, then you may want to look away from your screen. I completely understand. Just as I appear to have a separate compartment in my stomach that inevitably has room for a pudding (no matter how filling the main course) so my brain seems to be divided into a part that organises the business side of Christmas throughout the year while the bit that plans Christmas meals, gift buying or decorating the house doesn’t function until mid-December. If you embrace all that is festive and have already started gift shopping and planning the colour scheme for your Christmas tree, then read on.

This year, all that is Christmassy seems to be kicking off later than last year. I’d like to think it’s because people have come to their senses and don’t want to start their festive celebrations until we’re well into December, but I suspect it has more to do with a sunny autumn and the way the dates fall this year.

Christmas star
On the farm, we’ve already delivered our first commercial Christmas trees for photo shoots, exhibitions and shopping events. The grain store has been emptied, swept and made into the Christmas Tree Barn ready for December.

In The Barley Barn, the last few weeks have been spent assembling display tables, digging out props, opening a mountain of cardboard boxes and setting out the Christmas decorations to transform the minimalist space used for meetings and printmaking classes to a glittering abundance of shimmering glass, shiny baubles and twinkling lights.

One of the main themes for Christmas 2016 is Hand-Made. Alongside craft kits and retro paper chains  we’re stocking clear ‘fill your own’ baubles, which Ruth and I have already had fun with.

Nordman fir Christmas tree in bauble

For hanging on the tree they can be filled with glitter confetti and sparkles. Sugar or salt can be used for a snowy landscape or, if you have a steady hand, a metallic pen or glitter glue can be used to make patterns or writing. Simplest of all is to snip off a piece of Christmas tree or slip in a pretty feather.

wooden beads in Christmas bauble
We also thought they’d make great little presents. A bauble filled with wooden beads to make a necklace.

Dried lavender and rose petals in clear bauble
Dried lavender and rose petals that could be used afterwards in sachets for the wardrobe.

coriander seeds in clear bauble
We collected seeds from the coriander plants in the garden and used a funnel to pour them into a bauble so they can be sown next spring.

Buttons, ribbons, wishes written on strip of paper, Christmas spices, pins and needles, hot drinking chocolate mix, sweets, mini pompoms … it’s an endless list so long as it can be poked through the neck of the bauble.

How about you? Too early to be thinking about such fripperies or have you already started?




Going, Going, Gone

Going …

farmyard view

This was the view from one of our bedroom windows. The red tiled building is known as the Chitting Shed. Originally, a cowshed and then used for chitting potatoes the shed is now used for general storage and is where my chickens, ducks and guinea fowl are shut up each evening. The door fell off a couple of years ago and after a couple of attempts to re-attach the doorpost to the wall it seems there are no screws long enough to do the job and it remains propped against the wall.

Behind the Chitting Shed is the Cats’ Barn, so named because that’s where the farm cats were fed and though the cats have long since disappeared, the name stuck. Butted up to right hand side of the Cats’ Barn is the old Essex Barn that I wrote about last year.

Going …

barn roof removal

This month, men in suits and protective masks moved in to remove the asbestos sheeting from the Cats’ Barn. They looked rather sinister, as if there’d been an outbreak of a deadly disease and they were here to clear the area.

Gone …

the farmyard

This week, the roof and its supporting framework have been removed and the view has changed. For the first time in over fifty years we can look across to the farmyard, though of course the view behind has changed rather a lot in that time.

Surprisingly (or perhaps not so) within a day, we no longer missed the roof and it seems quite normal to see across the yard. The kitchen window is below this bedroom window, so the outlook from that has changed too, though not quite so dramatically as the block wall still blocks the view. When that comes down, it really will look different.