Our 10 Great Christmas Traditions:
Christmases in Castle Coop are extremely traditional. Every year the Agent & I celebrate Christmas in exactly the same way.
Our traditional Christmas always involves:
#1. Hunting out the Christmas Decorations by torch-light from the new ‘safe’ place in the attic I find in January and then forget all about during the ensuing year. In the circumstances, the Agent’s sighs are understandable.
#2. Hanging up the baubles while listening to ‘Winter Wonderland‘. (The Agent always puts on ‘Once in Royal David’s City‘ but I fast-forward the ipod as soon as he’s out of the room & put WW on a loop as I like dancing about while I decorate.)
#3. Decorating the Agent’s tree which he chooses with great care, from the Christmas Tree farm nearby:
#4. Wrapping up the presents by a fire which the Agent lights for me in the drawing-room, after he’s spent all day on the telephone trying to contact British Gas because the boiler has broken down:
#5. Untangling the exterior lights for the front of the house (Dutch courage is often required for this task) & then draping the string of bulbs over the wisteria with artistic abandon (an inevitable side effect of all the Dutch courage tots imbibed by both the Agent & me):
#6. Helping to clean & decorate St. Mary’s under the leadership of Trev the Rev & Brown Owl so that it looks simply beautiful for the Carol Service on Christmas Eve:
#7. Over-Eating & Over-Drinking with our dear friends & neighbours to ensure Christmas is properly celebrated by all Castle- Coopians:
#8. Suffering the traditional medical emergency brought on by being totally spoilt (again) by the Agent:
#9. Being felled anew, immediately after coming round, by seeing all the gorgeous Christmas parcels containing candles, scarves, placemats, lavendery lotions & potions, munchies, a coat, a puzzle and a book, given to me by my lovely, kind nearest & dearest!
& finally… Christmas Tradition number 10: Making time to catch up with important global affairs while curled up in front of the fire:
Yours hoping you’ve had a thoroughly festive time full of your own Great Christmas Traditions,Read More
Royal Ascot Hats!
Hats Off to Lady Eftie Nudge’s Royal Ascot Hats!
Lord and Lady Eftie Nudge have been racing all week. They flew the Castle Coop flag for us all at Royal Ascot.
I am delighted to feature ‘A Stylish Selection of Ascot Hats’ below so we can all enjoy seeing the remarkable headgear Lady Nudge wore throughout the Royal Ascot week.
Picture source: Lady Eftie Nudge
If you look hard enough at the pictures of Ascot race-goers in this link below
perhaps you’ll see Lady Nudge waving from a box near the Queen’s one in the Royal Enclosure.
Yours wondering if I should take up hat-wearing (although my social events mostly take place chatting by the supermarket check-out).Read More
Stop Press – Community Notice!
Oh my goodness: after focussed lobbying by the Castle Coop regulars, guess what’s happened…
…the District Council has officially declared the Ox & Moose to be ‘an asset of community value’ !
According to the most recent Parish Council newsletter, under the recent Localism Act (the what Act?) communities can ask their district council to designate land or property that provides an important local amenity as ‘an asset of community value’.
The Castle Coop Parish Council initiated the application to the District Council and successfully obtained the listing for The Ox & Moose – one of the first in the District.
Yours about to lobby the powers that be to declare me to be a valuable asset,Read More
The Castle on the banks of our Canal
Castle Coop is getting ready to celebrate the signing of the Magna Carta by Bad King John, 800 years ago in 1215. A great deal of partying is to take place over the bank holiday weekend at the castle to which our village owes its name.
Odiham which is our nearest village with shops is holding a festive weekend to mark the foundation stone of the modern democratic state. An awful lot of effort has gone into its organisation – it has even got its own web-site:
The Agent & I have unearthed our flags from the garage ready to hang up tomorrow
& after de-cobwebbing them so they’ll look smart enough to celebrate “Magna Carta, Justice and Liberty“, I decided to ride my bike down the canal to pay a quick visit to King John’s castle before all the crowds arrive tomorrow.
The castle’s not exactly a des res any longer :
but they certainly believed in building good thick walls back in medieval times.
All action in 1215…
Apparently King John stayed in Odiham Castle on his way to sign the Magna Carta ‘under duress’ at Runneymede. He looks pretty benign in this official picture below but I bet he was in a filthy temper.
800 years ago, the canal must have been heaving with King John’s entourage and tomorrow this spot will be swarming with merry-makers… just now however, there’s no-one about and it’s simply beautiful.
Cycling back home down the canal path,
I passed a swan family with 5 cygnets and loads of ducks and moorhens
& then I saw a brown splodge among the grasses on the far bank
which when I looked carefully, I saw was a deer with big eyes and tiny antlers. We both stayed still looking at each other for a long time.
yours thinking that although I’m sure the festive weekend will be amazing, I like our canal best just as it is right now this evening,
Dancing the New Year in!
An exploratory email was sent around Castle Coop inboxes asking if everyone would like to celebrate the New Year in a sober and sensible fashion.
As there were no responses, Sir Plym quickly posted out a revised email.
Just wanted to reassure you that everything is set for our party tomorrow night. The supper is being prepared, playlists are being fine tuned, fizz is chilling and party poppers are ready……
Dance to our very own Village playlist!
Celebrate the New Year with Fizz!
The Village Hall is decorated!
It took hardly any time at all to set the Village Hall up for the party as all the Christmas decorations already made everything look festive.
Just before everyone started arriving at 9.00p.m. Lady Egality lit the candles:
None of us even attempted to celebrate in a sober and sensible fashion:
Actually, we danced our heads off!
Yours having twisted the night away,
A Christmas Carol Service!
If you had been in Castle Coop tonight, we would have loved it if you could have joined us all as we walked to the Christmas Carol Service down the little lantern-lit path which leads from The Street to St. Mary’s. The church bell was ringing and some tiny pinpricks of light bobbing about in the field meant that Sir Plym, Lady Egality and Sir Burford & Lady Brown, guided by their torches, were taking the shortcut. Reverend Rosecombe stood at the door to welcome us all into St. Mary’s and the Graf showed us all to our pews.
(Artistic license (also known as dramatic license, historical license, poetic license, narrative license, licentia poetica, or simply license) is a colloquial term, sometimes euphemism, used to denote the distortion of fact, alteration of the conventions of grammar or language, or rewording of pre-existing text made by an artist in the name of art. (Wikipedia)
(In the above picture, the snowman is ‘licentia poetica‘ as there isn’t a flake of snow in Castle Coop at the moment.)
St Mary’s is decorated ready for Christmas!
St. Mary’s looked so pretty, decorated with holly and red berries.
The rood screen was covered with little fairy lights entwined through silver birch twigs and the ledges under the windows were glowing with tiny tea lights.
The stained glass window above the altar shows the Nativity Christmas scene
& every year during Christmas, a tree is placed just infront of the altar.
If you look carefully, you can see several labels which Trev the Rev has tied onto its branches. They bear the names of those dear to us in Castle Coop, who are no longer with us.
It was lovely to be sitting in our own little church, singing all the old familiar carols.
Christmas is almost here! Hurrah!
Yours humming the descant to ‘Adeste Fideles’ (although the Agent – who is musical – says he doesn’t recognise it as such),
Yesterday I went on a Christmas present buying spree…
The shops are absolutely crammed with all sorts of simply gorgeous things at the moment and I think it was an extremely successful day… I hope so anyway. How is your shopping getting on?
It’s a wrap!
As it is so cold, the Agent has lit a fire and I’m ensconced right next to it, armed with sellotape, scissors & enough paper to wrap up Windsor Castle.
Yours sitting in the middle of rather a muddle…Read More
Christmas Crackers at the Ox and Moose!
Way back in November, Sir Plym emailed all Castle Coopians asking if we’d like to sign up for a Christmas get-together supper at the Ox and Moose.
Egality and I would like to invite you to join us for an early Christmas dinner in the Ox and Moose. We have provisionally reserved the whole of the main dining room and are seeking to attract between 25 (the minimum) and 40 (the maximum) villagers.
Together with St Mary’s and the Village Hall, the O&M is one of Castle Coop’s major plus points; we are keen to support Lady Langshan behind the bar especially as at the same time we can have fun and enjoy some good food and drinkable wine. (Hurrah!)
Lady Langshan from behind the Ox and Moose bar has offered us a special O and M deal on both the food and the wines with a three course Christmas Fayre meal and a small reduction in the normal prices of the listed wines.
We are suggesting dinner on Saturday 6th December at 7.30pm. Please advise us if you’d like to join in by this coming Sunday, 2nd November:
A Box of Crackers!
On Saturday morning, Lady Langshan from behind the Ox and Moose bar, was rushing here, there & everywhere getting everything ready for hosting the Castle Coop Christmas supper. By lunch time she thought she had finished laying up the tables; the Ox and Moose was festooned with ‘Welcome’ bunting and a huge Ox and Moose Christmas Party banner, held up by strategically placed standard lamps was managing to stay put. Completely unexpectedly Sir Burford Brown turned up saying he and Lady Brown wanted their first Christmas in Castle Coop to be “a Cracker”!
Lady Langshan added the crackers to the tables immediately and we all thought the room looked extremely festive – don’t you agree?
Later that night we all had a simply splendid time!
The Graf read his cracker joke out to us
Q. Why is milk fast?
A. because it’s pasturised before you see it!
and then Sir Burford Brown stood up and enacted his joke, walking backwards down the length of the welcome banner saying, “oh, Oh OH!), Apparently he was being Father Christmas on rewind.
We all laughed our heads off (possibly encouraged by the ‘small reduction in the normal prices of the listed wines’).
On finding a whistle in his cracker, Sir Plym immediately brought into play a rule that at every blast of the whistle all the men had to move 2 places clockwise round the tables. Conversation became extremely lively as a result.
Yours beginning to feel swept up by the Christmas spirit,
Lord and Lady Eftie Nudge are keen Racegoers and the dates of Royal Ascot are penned into their diaries in permanent ink every year.
‘ Over the past 300 years, Ascot has established itself as a national institution; with Royal Ascot becoming the centrepiece of the British social calendar,’ states the race-course’s web-site. Doesn’t it sound fun! And you get to look at the Queen too!
This year (as they do every year), the Nudges drove off in the Bentley in brilliant sunshine, down the M3 (through all the roadworks) with a picnic from Fortnum’s in the boot.
How scrumptious it looks!
There is a jolly strict dress code for the Royal Enclosure and Lord and Lady N always look terrifically smart.
The Dress Code for Royal Ascot:
Gentlemen are kindly reminded that it is a requirement to wear black or grey morning dress, which must include:
- A waistcoat and tie (no cravats)
A black or grey top hat
A gentleman may remove his hat within a restaurant, a private box, a private club or that facility’s terrace, balcony or garden. Hats may also be removed within any enclosed external seating area within the Royal Enclosure Garden. The customisation of top hats (with, for example, coloured ribbons or bands) is not permitted in the Royal Enclosure.
- Black shoes
(information courtesy of: www.ascot.co.uk)
Luckily Lord Eftie wouldn’t dream of pairing brown shoes with morning dress. Neither would he ever wear a customised top hat despite the charms of this one:
The dress code for women is also pretty draconian:
Ladies are kindly asked to note the following:
Fascinators are no longer permitted.
- Strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck and spaghetti straps are not permitted.
Midriffs must be covered.
Lady Nudge is as correct a dresser as her husband. She is a firm believer in formal daywear and shudders at the idea of off the shoulder numbers before it’s time for evening cocktails. Needless to say, her midriff is always covered.
Yours trying (and failing) to picture Lady Nudge in a dress which is
- a) strapless,
- b) off the shoulder, or
- c) a halter neck
and which shows off her midriff at the same time…
What do you reckon? Imaginable?
Lady Lohmann-Brown throws a Party! Part 2
The Agent and I had a fabulous time at Lady L-B’s party! The marquee was full of all our friends and we laughed and danced and quaffed and ate until the early hours.
There was a great band which kindly accepted requests to play all our favourite songs.
Sir Plym whirled and twirled Lady Egality about on the dance floor:
We danced the Conga…
Brown Owl,The Graf and I joined a long line of villagers and danced the Conga round and round the marquee. Every now and then, in perfect time to the beat, Brown Owl jumped up high from joie de vivre – she was really in the mood to party!
They danced the Last Waltz…
Lady Sebright and Colonel Pyncheon were still on the floor for ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ which was the very last dance. They looked very happy…
It was an absolutely wonderful party to mark the beginning of summer!
Yours, dizzy from tripping the light fantastic,Read More
Lady Lohmann-Brown throws a Party! Part 1
Thankfully, the rain has finally stopped and the sun is out -ish..(Hurrah!)…just in the nick of time because Lady Lohmann-Brown has decided to throw a party tomorrow night to celebrate her birthday. Everyone in Castle Coop has been invited. The Agent and I went round to her house yesterday to help at a ‘setting-up-pre-party’ . In a jiffy, the menfolk had put up Castle Coop’s marquee (available to hire out to any Castle Coopian for £50 +£50 deposit) in Lady L-B’s garden:
Lady Lohmann-Brown is such an amazing gardener, she must have green blood. She is Castle Coop’s Gardening Guru. A few weeks ago, she grew so many plants in her greenhouse for the recent Village Hall Plant Sale that when she carried them into the hall, it was very hard to make her out from behind all the foliage:
Aren’t the foxgloves underneath the apple trees pretty!
Whenever I see this garden, I resolve to try harder with our one but I forget about all the knowledge and graft that goes into creating something like this.
At the bottom of her garden is a field in which there are 3 cows and a ewe whose twin lambs are 3 weeks old.
Flowers for inside the marquee!
The garage was a hive of industry as Lady L-B and her daughter had been arranging flowers for the tables all day! They look amazing already even though they’re not quite finished yet- she is very talented!
Here is a pedestal arrangement which apparently Lady L-B ‘just threw together..’ :
and here is a little arrangement for one of the table tops:
Yours, greatly looking forward to the party,
Apology – Friday Night Foyle’s War Club Meeting cancelled:
N.B. As all the Actual Members of the Friday Night Foyle’s War Club – the Graf, Lady Egality, Lady Sebright, Colonel Pyncheon and LLH, will be out on the tiles tomorrow night, we have had to take an executive decision to postpone the next meeting of the F.N.F.W. C. until Friday 6th May 2014.
Please will all Virtual International Members accept our apologies.
Yours, with thanks,
Lady Liberty – Club Secretary.Read More
Sumer is Icumen in,
Loudly sing, cuckoo!
Grows the seed and blows the mead,
And springs the wood anew;
A Summer Bank Holiday Barbecue!
The Ox and Moose decided to lay on a beautiful summery Barbecue to enable Castle Coopians celebrate the summer-is-a-coming-in May Bank Holiday. Hurrah! This is what living in a tiny English village is all about! What could be a more convivial way of passing a bank holiday afternoon than chatting with one’s friends and neighbours in the local pub’s garden? Pimms in hand, children and dogs running happily about, delicious scents wafting over from the steaks on the barbecue and the lilac blossom on the trees – what a great recipe for a relaxing village get-together.
Ingredients for the Ox and Moose Village Barbecue:
- A freshly mown beautiful green sward for us all to stand about on and chat together … Tick.
- Tables dotted about the green sward for families to sit at with parasols to give a shade/sun option…. Tick.
- A Bouncy Castle for the little children to jump about on….Tick.
- The Castle Coop Village Barbecue laden with sausages & burgers ready to waft out the requisite delicious summery smells on summery breezes…Tick.
- Countless jugs of wonderful summery Pimms to accompany the scrummy barbecue….Tick.
- The traditional convivial atmosphere of a British village party held outdoors in the sunshine…. Tick.
Revised ingredients for the Ox and Moose Village Barbecue:
- Wellington boots as the Ox and Moose’s beautiful green sward was awash….Tick.
- Umbrellas rather than parasols….Tick.
- A Dripping Bouncy Castle…Tick.
- The Castle Coop Village Barbecue hidden under loads of umbrellas to protect all the sausages and burgers from the driving rain…. Tick.
- Countless cups of hot tea to protect against the chill factor…. Tick.
- The traditional convivial atmosphere of a British village party held outdoors in the rain…. TICK!
&…….. a very good time was had by all!
Summer is Icumen in (revised for our Great British Weather)
Sumer is Icumen in,
Loudly shiver, Brr Brr!
Pours the rain and blows the breeze,
And come our brollies out anew;
Put on your wellies, Squelch, Squelch!
The appalling weather blip going on in Castle Coop at the moment means once again, I am wrapped up in my michelin-man look-alike outfit in a bid to stay warm. I hope you are warmer than I am…
Yours, feeling as if it’s November inside and out,Read More
A Clean Church for Good Friday:
The Call to Arms:
Last week, I received this trumpeting ‘Call to Arms’ in my inbox: Dear Castle Coopians, Castle Coop Needs a Clean Church! Easter is fast approaching. Now the village has been properly spruced up, we need to muster the troops and declare war on all the cobwebs and mud which have invaded the church interior during the winter. The Easter Church Clean will be on Wednesday 16th April 10am to Noon. Let me know that you are able to come and help and I shall enrol you in the Cleaning Corps. Don’t forget.
This strategic position offered a brilliant vantage point from which to oversee the battle while simultaneously attacking spiders from the left flank and brushing them off the windows. The clouds of disturbed dust surrounding her were testament to Brown Owl‘s fantastic Field Marshal capabilities. Here are the weapons with which I was issued to effect a vanguard Coup de Main against the enemy:
- Mop (Standard Issue)
- Bucket (dating from previous campaign)
- Soapy Water (courtesy of South East Water Co.)
I set to wielding the mop on the Church Porch floor front line:
Inside other members of the Cleaning Corps performed a scouring pincer manoeuvre involving water, soap and dustpans and brushes. In the rear guard, Brownies armed with Brasso and dusters were earning marks towards their ‘good citizenship’ badges while the two Misses Pepperpot – Eglantine and Clementine – wafted about rubbing lavender polish into the pews. Colonel Pyncheon counted up all the prayer books and hymnals and replaced them in orderly rows.
We didn’t need the full 2 hours to get St. Mary’s ready for the Good Friday Service. By 11.30 we had a sparklingly clean Church
and so had time in hand to properly appreciate the Chelsea Buns and coffee
which Lady Sebright kindly brought from her house to refresh us all. Yum!
A Vote of Thanks:
Brown Owl, waving a mug of coffee rather wildly about, gave a vote of thanks to the workers, very loosely based on the ‘Never in the field of human conflict..’ speech. Apparently, the Cleaning Corps showed ‘verve‘!