crEAting Christmas ~ day 2

Today my Advent card reads…

‘fill the house with the scent of Christmas and make pomanders and dried fruit slices’

At home I would do these in the oven to savour the wonderful smell it produces but here in the caravan to save on the gas I used the microwave to dry out the slices and I wasn’t sure if it would work. I stuck a few cloves into the end slices and the smell was really nice.  I wasn’t very impressed with this microwave method – one or two of them scorched a bit but this won’t be that noticeable when the colour darkens with age.  I will take them back home and put them in the airing cupboard for a while.  I decided not to continue with them here and wait until I get home and can use my oven.

As promised in my last post a few pictures from the Stranraer Christmas parade and switching on of lights.  The town has a population of about 13,000 and is around 70 miles from the larger towns of Dumfries and Ayr so the people here have to provide a lot of their own entertainment and they do it so well.  There are few national chain shops – a recent but small New Look, Argos and Peacocks and a WH Smiths, Boots, Superdrug, Mac & Co and a Subway; the rest are all little privately run businesses.

Most of the outlying community had come into town eager to see this event – the cafes were full and the shops very busy.  Eventually you could hear the distant pipes as the procession arrived in the town centre… …with the Three Wise Men on camels who were awesome (as Sybil would say) though it was hard to get a good photo without all the police escorts and minders getting in the way of taking pictures. They were like big cuddly teddy bears and didn’t seem the least bit phased by the noisy crowd, the bagpipes and the loud speakers on the castle belting out Christmas music; and were very amenable to the children stroking them.

Santa made an appearance too in his chimney …As it is quite a small town the parade circulated a couple of times and as it became dark everyone gathered in the square by St John’s castle (which had become Santa’s grotto for the day) for the countdown to the switching on of the lights by the winner of the Primary Schools competition.  There was such a sense of excitement in the air.Once the lights came on a big cheer went up and it was quite spectacular but not something easily caught on camera.  It felt so nice to be part of this community spirit here. All the shop windows around the town have been dressed with a Christmas theme and lit up too – it was a wonderful sight that you don’t see very much now on most high streets (well not in Huddersfield) since the national chain shops seem to have taken over and don’t really go in for window dressing in this way;  but up here in Stranraer the majority of shops are mainly small family concerns and whether they are bakers or hairdressers they all join in to make their little town look delightful.  Here is a quick tour of the shop displays and haven’t they done well.

…even the man at the antique shop has done a lovely old-fashioned display…

…and this one with the Nutcracker soldier is for Sadie if you are reading this!

Tomorrow we will be travelling down home again – it has been a very mixed emotional time for us this visit – I think for once I might be glad to be home for a while.  I may have to delay tomorrow’s post until Tuesday – but I already know that my Advent activity for day 3 is a very simple one.

14 Replies to “crEAting Christmas ~ day 2”

  1. I love the fact the shops are independent? We seem to get it wrong here there are some but not enough. Its mostly charity and cafes. Looks lovely. We do have the community spirit but lack the vibrancy of the independent shops.


    1. Yes they are independant – sadly they keep losing one or two every year now. Moodies the stationers closed this summer and there is a homewares and fancy goods shop that appears to be struggling a bit. We try and support the shops when we are here. We have no independant gift type shops in Huddersfield town centre so I buy them here and take them down home.
      i think it is great that they make their windows so attractive.


  2. You were right about the town embracing the season – they really have made an effort to give the area a festive look. Creating an inviting and old fashioned atmosphere about the place.

    The last thing I’d associate with Scotland is camels – live camels carrying Three Wise Men to boot. Where on earth do they stay while they are resting (like actors between jobs) for the other eleven months ??

    Do you think there’d be a better (different) outcome if the orange slices were covered with paper towel in the microwave- to absorb any moisture while they were cooking ?


    1. I think they were the Mongolian style camels and used to the cold – but the question of where did they come from and stay is what we are all wanting to know!
      The paper towel – good idea – I think – as I have no idea with a microwave, we don’t have one at home so I am a bit hopeless trying to do anything in it – I can manage a baked potato. I am going to pop them in the oven when I get home at least I know how that works.


  3. It all looks magical and those window displays are gorgeous. I love the polar bears.
    You’re tempting me with drying some oranges myself, or maybe I should just buy a scented candle. 😆 As knowing me, I would burn them. X


  4. Oh I’m reading! And I LOVE that nutcracker man! Actually I loved seeing all the windows. I used to follow a blog in New York that showed shop windows, Christmas was always the best, but now that blog has gone, so your shop window pics have been a lovely replacement. Thank you. it’s always nice to see how retailers dress windows for Christmas, they are very labour intensive!

    What a gorgeous sight to see, I can completely understand why you felt so happy to be in the throng of this festive fabulousness. I particularly like that the Wise Man appeared to be wearing Dubarry boots, I like his style!

    agree with waiting for the use of an oven with the drying of oranges. I used to manage to have some ‘catch’ in the oven, I can see how easy it would happen in a microwave. xx


    1. I like that you spotted the boots – I hadn’t noticed! With the economy in this part of the world being so poor I can probably say they would be the most expensive boots in Strantraer that day! Perhaps it was the boots and not the camels that held everyones attention!
      I think for amateur window dressers they have all done brilliantly and have shown all the chains like WH Smiths (which was just its normal self of books piled high in the window) how it can be done.


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