Oh hush the noise, ye men of strife

Night fell a couple of hours ago. The shops are closing. Celia and Charlie have left for Brighton. Octavia is in Yorkshire. In the block of flats where I live, only a handful of residents are at home, and in the section where my flat is, only my lovely neighbours opposite and I are here for Christmas. We’ve decorated our shared landing and exchanged gifts.
Inside, I have candles and fairy lights, tinsel that has so far survived MasterB’s interest, clean sheets, and parcels piled up on the table. Nanci Griffith’s voice fills the air from an old cassette tape.
I am feeling Christmassy, but not Christmassy enough to play CDS of carols. Anyway, I have managed to miswire the CD player of the stereo and sorting it out is beyond me right now. Continue reading

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A Funny Thing Happened After the Carol Service

I have TBM to thank for my recent spate of posts about London.
You see, shortly after I started following her blog, http://50yearproject.wordpress.com she announced she was moving to London with her partner, dog and cat.
Being a bit of a Londonoholic, I was hoping she would celebrate the capital in words and photos as she had Boston, her former domicile, and the many other places in the world she has visited.
The pride of London was at stake. It’s a big place and can be, as I know all too well, overwhelming. I was keen to share some of the wondrous secrets it has to offer.
I asked where she was going to spend Christmas, and learning it was London, launched into a range of churches where Christmas music is sublime, and out of the way places like St Peter-ad-Vincula in the Tower of London where anyone can go to celebrate midnight communion.
For myself, the Nine Lessons and Carols at St Bartholomew-the-Great is the way I usually really get into the Christmas mood. It has become a tradition over the years, and I generally attend with a group of friends. I have written about it before here: http://wo.me/pMKim-mT
I know many people spend Christmas Eve listening to the Nine Lessons and Carols broadcast from Kings College Cambridge. If home, I do myself. It is beautiful, and theirs is a professional choir of the highest quality, but the setting of St Barts the Great is so wonderfully atmospheric, the choir is semi-professional, that I should happily recommend it to anyone and be confident of their enjoyment. Continue reading

Christmas Cheer

Christmas started officially chez IsobelandCat on Sunday.

More for the Isobel part than the Cat bit.

Each year, on the Sunday before Christmas, I attend the service of Nine Lessons and Carols at St Bartholomew the Great, in the City of London.
For those of you who don’t know it, it’s the church where Hugh Grant didn’t get married in Four Weddings etc. As a venue, it’s dramatic, beautiful and atmospheric. The choir is semi-professional. Sometimes a group of us meet up in The Rising Sun close by and swap cards and gifts before we go and sing our hearts out. Our numbers vary; I’ve gone alone, and as part of a group of twelve. Continue reading