Christmas is coming, and the hols are long and dark!

Oh, ho ho ho. It’s all just about to kick off and it’s time to plan the days of the endless holidays. Now we seem to be in Scandinavian darkness for much of the day, timing is, as they say, everything.

So, with that in mind, I’ve had a think about what I’m going to do with my trouble makers and thought I would share that with you to give you some alternative ideas.

Our first trip is to Fortnum and Mason to go to a story telling by Dick Whittington. This is a bit of an extravagance, but being in such a beautiful store, decked out in its finest Christmassy gorgeousness, I thought it would fast track us all into realising Christmas is upon us. Being country mice, it also gives us a chance to eye-ball all the wonderful and crazy Christmas lights that bedeck London at this time of year.

In between, we will head to Winchester Cathedral for some ice skating and to check out the wonderful Christmas market. Inspired by the markets in Europe, this has little chalets full of all things Christmas related. Importantly, there is a mulled wine stall too. They have skating rinks, Somerset House, and the Natural History Museum this Christmas too,  with the cute little penguins for little ones to steady themselves on.

Next, it’s our annual trip to Olympia for the Horse Show. This is fantastic fun with the most wonderful assortment of horse and animal performances. We are seeing dog agility, the Shetland Grand National, a display by the Mounted Police from Barcelona, and the magical Jean Francois Pignon and his beautiful ‘wild’ white horses. We also get to see international show jumpers in a cracking against the clock jumping round. This is a great show for all the family, and there is endless shopping for last minute gifts, topped off with an appearance by Father Christmas on a horse drawn sleigh at the end – perfection in an afternoon. Bring a packed lunch as the queues for food can be  horrid,  and it means you don’t have to miss any of the excitement.

The high point of our Christmas here in Hampshire is our annual Farm Nativity which we hold in our large threshing barn. This year it takes place on 22nd December at 5pm at our home, which is also the location of Childs Farm HQ. We have a cast of sheep and ponies, children dress up as angels and shepherds, the local choir and musicians come out to belt out Christmas carols, and the story of the birth of Christ is told in an engaging and fun way.  There’s lots of mulled wine and food, with donations being taken for the Riding for the Disabled. All are welcome, so if you find yourself in Hampshire, do come along – tweet me for directions.

Christmas Eve is the children’s carol service in  our local church. This is usually by candle light, and really focuses the mind as to what Christmas is all about. The kids hook up with all their friends, as do we, and we then come home to put out mince pies and biltong (don’t ask) for Father Christmas, and some carrots for his reindeer before heading off for the sleepless night of anticipation!

Between Christmas and New Year, it’s lots of Pony Club fun for us, with a number of rallies to go to. We’ll also be practising our cantering and jumping in anticipation of a days trail hunting. As my horse is totally unfit, fat and looks like a hair ball, I shall be on foot with Mr J, and will run/ stagger alongside our little ones as their ponies head off into lands unknown. Theorectially, that will get us over all the Christmas indulgences, but I have a sneaky feeling it might fast track us to an iron lung…

Our final treat is a trip to the Royal Opera House to see Wind in the Willows. Mimi, my 6 year old,  has been learning all about river life this term at school, so the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Last year we went to The Nutcracker, Mimi’s first ballet,  so we thought we’d do something different this year,  and then take them both next year.

Throughout the holidays we will be doing all sorts of creative things too. Maggie & Rose have a great book out, which gives ideas for all sorts of Christmassy things to make together. All around our lanes and tracks, the hedgerows are full of old-mans beard and holly – berry less though so it looks like we have a hard winter ahead of us – so we will cut this to decorate the house with too.

We shall all be wearing our Sharky and George beanies to keep warm, and their delicious brushed cotton pyjamas means the kids can rip open their stockings on our bed on Christmas morning and still keep toasty. Any type of clothing from Sharky & George features on their must have list from Santa, as does any colour of LittleBu nail varnish – a brand we love, because it just washes off. The girls already have their stunning frocks from our friends at ilovegorgeous so really, we’re ready to glam up and get down for some serious Christmas fun!

If you are stuck in town and want to get away for a couple of  days, I’ve just been to the Four Seasons Hotel hear Odiham in Hampshire. Not only do they have a stables onsite for pony riding, they have a fantastic kids club which operates out of a cottage, more climbing frames and other outdoor fun I’ve seen in a long time, AND a super labrador called Oliver who is available for walks, cuddles and play. PLUS, I hear that Sharky and George will be entertaining the troops every day between Christmas and New Year. With a new restaurant, Fish, opening this week, and a cracking Spa, it would strike me as the ideal place to go so everyone can do something they love over the Christmas holidays.  Infact,  I’m going to book myself in right now!

I hope all your Christmas wishes come true this year,  and Seasons Greetings from  from everyone here at Childs Farm HQ.

JJ 4 December 2012, Childs Farm