Not Edwardy but ….

A few years ago my daughter came across a Christmas tradition which I think originally came from Scandinavia. On December 1st one of Father Christmas’s elves appears in the house by magic. During the day he behaves impeccably but once everyone is asleep he plays and makes mischief. Nothing nasty you understand, but he may raid the biscuit tin leaving a trail of crumbs across the kitchen, be found asleep on the sofa with an empty beer bottle at his side, or he may have had visitors for a game of cards which remain scattered on the table. When he visited me with them he kicked a loo roll from the top of the stairs to the bottom like the puppy in the Andrex ads. Then on Christmas night, when Father Christmas delivers his gifts, the elf hops onto the sleigh and returns home with him.

My family’s elf was called Edwardy and was a dapper young man dressed in green. When, in the middle of lockdown, my daughter reached the end of her tether with her emotionally abusive and controlling husband and fled on the advice of the police, she was able, helped by friends, to remove her personal belongings and some things of sentimental value but didn’t have time to search the loft for Christmas stuff however precious. So Edwardy remains incarcerated in a box.

However she and her daughter want to continue the tradition. (she may be 14 but who cares!) But it is important to them both that their new Elf is not like Edwardy which rather ruled out simply buying another one. But that is what Mam-gu is for! Could I make a fat, rather scruffy, old elf in something other than green (or red which triggers bad memories for my daughter) but still Christmassy? Good job I enjoy a challenge!

I started to think, mainly during dog walks, then played around with paper and sticky tape to get the main shapes, work out sizes and the position of his face and limbs. I found I was having enormous fun! I could almost have claimed he was a Scrap-Happy but I did have to buy the purple and blue felt. Everything else was from stuff I had lying around my workroom.

For the technically minded among you his legs are pieces of thin hemp rope (bought for the garden) with a knot inside his boots to bulk them out and give them weight. His arms have a pipe cleaner bent double inside so can be repositioned and I stitched his staff to the inside of his mitten before I sewed the two sleeve / mitten pieces together so that it is attached but the stitch is not visible on the outside. His hair, eyebrows and beard are DK wool stitched on then unravelled and his eyes are 2 black beads. I stuffed his body with toy stuffing but inserted a spoonful of rice wrapped in muslin near the base to weight him.

Until today this new Elf had no name – it was up to his new family to christen him. As I was writing this post the news came through. He is McJingle Toes. Let the Christmas fun begin!

Let Christmas begin!

I have just come back from one of my favourite events in the year and the one which, for me, marks the start of Christmas, Yule, Midwinter – call it what you will – The Christmas Market at C&M Organics.

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If you have been following my blog for a while you may remember that Chris and Matt run a market garden with an honesty shop which never shuts and where I buy the veg I need to supplement what I grow here. Much of it is grown by them but they import what cannot grow or to extend the season. All of it is organic and they supply a lot of local cafes, restaurants and shops. Increasingly they also stock a range of dry and canned goods and have a fridge with cheese, butter and yoghurt plus locally made sour-dough bread and some ice cream in a little freezer. They also make a point of supporting small local producers and providing them with an outlet liberally laced with encouragement. As part of that they have held markets where the producers can meet their customers face to face and promote their wares.

I arrived just half an hour after the start and was very glad I had chosen to walk there. The car park was full and the passing places on the single track road were filling up fast. Even with a marquee attached to the large storeroom the place was packed and there was a happy hum of voices. I had taken my phone to take photos but with low light levels and so many bodies gave up! Instead I took photos of the things I bought once I got home.

First stop was Chris’s own stall where she was selling home-made mince pies and mulled wine, tea and coffee to raise money for charity. Her eldest daughter works with refugees in Paris and Chris and Matt support her tirelessly. Another advantage of walking was being able to indulge in the mulled wine!

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Next was Mountain Hall Farm which was one of the first places I visited with the Pembrokeshire Permaculture group. You can read my post on that here and Alex’s own blog here. He was selling their grass fed beef but as I still have some from my friends Phil and Michelle I just had a cuddle with his four month old daughter, Ffion, and bought some innoculant for planting trees which Alex was selling on behalf of one of his friends.

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Next to him was Abby selling her dried flowers. She and her partner Josh keep ducks for eggs and rear lamb as well as developing a flower business. This year she grew things to dry as a way of extending the season and next year hopes to start selling flowers by post. I am in awe of these young people who give up secure, well paid jobs in cities to move out here and follow their passions.

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Linda was there too with beautiful fresh wreaths and decorated pots of narcissi. I visited her place this summer when they were waiting for planning permission to build a home on their plot. It has now been granted and she was bubbling over with delight and plans for the build. You can read about Linda’s floristry business here

There were 2 stalls selling hot food both of which looked and smelled lovely but to carry them home in my rucksack seemed likely to end in disaster so I opted for a savoury croissant filled with leeks and blue cheese instead. I could have had an almond or plain one or one of a range of fruity pastries. Choices! I wanted them all!

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There were stalls selling chocolates, candles, turned wooden christmas trees, hand made cards, beauty potions and all manner of other lovely things. The problem with being a crafter is that there is little point in buying what I can make myself. Plus I have just done a major de-clutter and am trying very hard (very very hard!) to be disciplined about filling the space up again! I succumbed to the temptation of sampling some pickled garlic which was delicious so I bought a pot telling myself that it would be eaten so didn’t count!

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I knew lots of the customers too. We all had time to chat and even though the place was full no-one was getting impatient or rushing – so different from bumping into someone I know in the supermarket. I love the feeling of community, of camaraderie and mutual support at these events which I am sure comes from Chris and Matt’s own value system. I hope they have one next year.