Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Countdown Day 24!!! Christmas at The Swan

 Christmas Countdown Day 24
Christmas Day at The Swan Inn!!!

Well, I hope I haven't got your expectations so high that these pictures come as a disappointment to you all! Here at last is the Christmas project I have been working on for weeks! The Swan Inn is all set for a very festive and merry Christmas, The bar has been festooned with garlands and red ribbons, sprigs of holly are tucked here and there. A huge Christmas tree stands at one end of the pub, by a cosy fire.

In the kitchen a feast has been prepared, with a turkey and all the trimmings, a Christmas pudding sits on the dresser waiting to be soaked in brandy and ignited! The table has been laid for the landlord and his family.

Upstairs, in the bedroom, a stocking hands at the foot of the bed, there are more presents to be opened below it too!

The living room stands ready to receive all the guests for an evening of festive food and entertainment. Chocolates, dates, Christmas cake, mince pies and drinks. There are crackers to be pulled too. Another Christmas tree has been placed in one corner and the room is fully dressed for Christmas.

I've posted the pictures (25 in all!!) in no particular order, but they show all the rooms listed above.

I hope you enjoy all the pics, I have enjoyed making up all these little scenes! Merry Christmas to you all, and very best wishes for 2013!!

Andy xxxxx

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas Countdown Day 23

The Three Wise Bears came bearing gifts!!
Christmas Countdown Day 23
Only Two More Sleeps 'til Christmas!

Well, it's nearly the 25th, and so time is pressing to get everything ready! I have spent the last two days in a busy blur of shopping, cooking, wrapping the last of the presents and general finishing touches. I must confess that I have run out of ideas for today's Countdown post, so thought it was a good time to say thank you to all my friends and loyal followers! I have appreciated all your kind words, advice and support over the past year, and I have enjoyed looking at all your projects too. I think miniatures are such a great little hobby, I am pleased to see so many others with similar interests across the world!

The Christmas Countdown has been fun, and I hope you have all enjoyed it. I have read all of your lovely comments, and have been keeping an eye on all your new posts too. I hope to have more time in the New Year to sit down and read them all properly and enjoy all your new photos. 

Of course, the Christmas Countdown isn't quite over, there is a big reveal tomorrow! Christmas at The Swan Inn.

Whatever you are doing over the Christmas holidays, I hope you all have a wonderful time, relax and enjoy it, may it be full of peace and harmony!


Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas Countdown Day 22

Christmas Countdown Day 22
The Nutcracker

Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker is something I like to listen to over Christmas. I love the music, and would love to see the ballet performed live on stage. Sadly, tickets are very expensive for the London productions at Christmas time, so I have had to watch recordings on TV instead! 

Some of the original cast of the ballet
The ballet is set on Christmas Eve, and contains a Christmas tree, which expands, a magician, an enchanted nutcracker, a battle between gingerbread men and mice, dancing sugar plums and snowflakes and a land of sweets; what could be more fun at Christmas?!

An original stage set design for The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is based on a story by ETA Hoffmann The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The ballet premiered in St Petersburg in December 1892. It wasn't originally a hit with critics, who found the ballet itself insipid, but many were full of praise for Tchaikovsky's music. The first full production outside of Russia wasn't until 1934, in the UK, and it wasn't shown fully in the USA until 1944. Since then it has become THE ballet for Christmas!

Forgive me, but I have copied a synopsis of the ballet's story from Wikipedia, as it is quite long, and I couldn't have explained it any better myself!

A recent production 
Act I
Scene 1: The Silberhaus Home
It is Christmas Eve. Family and friends have gathered in the parlor to decorate the beautiful Christmas tree in preparation for the night's festivities. Once the tree is finished, the younger children are sent for. The children stand in awe of the tree sparkling with candles and decorations.
The festivities begin. A march is played. Presents are given out to the children. Suddenly, as the owl-topped clock strikes eight, a mysterious figure enters the room. It is Herr Drosselmeyer, a local councilman, magician, and Clara and Fritz's godfather. He is also a talented toymaker who has brought with him gifts for the children, including four lifelike dolls who dance to the delight of all. Drosselmeyer then has the precious dolls put away for safekeeping.
Clara and Fritz are sad to see the dolls taken away, but Drosselmeyer has yet another toy for them: a wooden nutcracker carved in the shape of a little man, used for cracking hazelnuts. The other children ignore it, but Clara immediately takes a liking to it. Fritz, however, purposely breaks the toy. Clara is heartbroken.
During the night, after everyone else has gone to bed, Clara returns to the parlor to check on her beloved nutcracker. As she reaches the little bed, the clock strikes midnight and she looks up to see Drosselmeyer perched atop the clock in place of the owl. Suddenly, mice begin to fill the room and the Christmas tree begins to grow to dizzying heights. The Nutcracker also grows to life-size. Clara finds herself in the midst of a battle between an army of Gingerbread man soldiers and the mice, led by the Mouse King. The mice begin to eat the gingerbread soldiers.
The Nutcracker appears to lead the gingerbread soldiers, who are joined by tin soldiers and dolls who serve as doctors to carry away the wounded. As the Mouse King advances on the still-wounded Nutcracker, Clara throws her slipper at him, distracting him long enough for the Nutcracker to stab him.
Dancing snowflakes!
Scene 2: A Pine Forest
The mice retreat and the Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome Prince. He leads Clara through the moonlit night to a pine forest in which the snowflakes dance around them.
An original costume design for The Nutcracker
Act II
Scene 1: The Land of Sweets
Clara and the Prince travel in a nutshell boat pulled by dolphins to the beautiful Land of Sweets, ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Prince's place until his return. The Prince recounts for the Sugar Plum Fairy how he had been saved by Clara from the Mouse King and had been transformed back into a Prince.
In honor of the young heroine, a celebration of sweets from around the world is produced: chocolate from Spain, coffee from Arabia, and tea from China all dance for their amusement; candy canes from Russia; Danish shepherdesses perform on their flutes; Mother Gigogne has her children emerge from under her enormous skirt to dance; a string of beautiful flowers perform a waltz. To conclude the night, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier perform a dance.
A final waltz is performed by all the sweets, after which Clara and the Prince are crowned rulers of The Land of Sweets. Soon, however, the people of the land of the sweets begin to disappear one by one, until the Nutcracker Prince himself disappears, and Clara is found sleeping in the parlor. The Nutcracker Doll is under the Christmas tree. Clara awakes, thinking it was all a dream, but then finds her crown sitting beside her, leading to question, was it a dream? She walks to the Christmas tree and takes her Nutcracker, going back to sleep, the implication being that if it was all a dream, that she would want to keep dreaming.

Christmas Countdown Day 21


Christmas Countdown Day 21
Christmas Windows

Before they disappear forever, I wanted to show you all some examples of the lovely shop windows displayed in the larger London department stores. I must admit, I haven't taken the photos for any of these, I found them all on the net. it's a shame that they will all be gone in just a few days from now!

I'll let the pictures do most of the talking!!

Harrods have some of the best windows this year. Inspired, if you can believe this, by Disney princesses!

Liberty continue to have unusual Christmas windows, This one is rather nice with its rich gold colours, and I love that stack of hair!!

Sefridges, have some rather traditional Christmas themes this year

I thought Fortnum and Mason's Christmas windows were a bit dull this year, after the spectacular displays of the past few years! This year's theme was Dick Whittington, a celebration of London no doubt, but not very exciting! The best thing was the stage coach below.

Harvey Nichols have some very exciting window displays this year, full of colour and energy! Inspired by the Orient.

Tiffany's, sweet! Almost like a dolls' house!!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Christmas Countdown Day 20

6" Christmas Tree from

 Christmas Countdown Day 20
Decorating a Dolls' House Christmas Tree

Decorating a Christmas tree for you doll's house is a fun little project. Almost anything can be used to decorate it; sequins, beads, jewellery findings, tiny model toys, and ribbons to mention a few. 

Finding a suitable tree might be tricky, the one above from Amazon looks OK, but some people like thinner branches, and something more realistic. There are also miniature trees from model railways or cake decorations, whatever you feel appropriate and can get easily! (after all, there aren't many days left now!)

Pack 12 glass baubles £2.99 Maple Street
I've shown you these beautiful miniature baubles before, which look just like the real thing. Several companies are selling these online, I bought mine for £2.99 a pack at
Coloured beads, small crystal beads and jewellery findings would work well as baubles too.

Card making kit £18.00
Special craft shops are very useful for miniaturists, sets like the one above contain many useful bits and pieces that could be used for miniature decorations.

Pack 30 pipe cleaners £2.00 John Lewis
Glittery pipe cleaners make perfect miniature tinsel, but you could also use thin coloured ribbons, or even make tiny paper-chains to decorate the tree.

Working fairy lights £4.95
Fairy lights on the tree will add to the realism. There are several companies selling miniature strings of lights, with colourful or white bulbs. Trouble is, you'll need to plug them into an existing lighting system in your dolls' house. You could use a small battery operated set of LED lights instead.

I'd love to see some of your miniature Christmas trees!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Christmas Countdown Day 19

Christmas Countdown Day 19
Lighting Up the Christmas Tree

Christmas trees were originally lit by small candles or tapers fastened to the tree. Because of the obvious fire risk, these candles would only be lit for a short time. However, there were many house fires caused by Christmas candles.

The incandescent electric light bulb was invented by Sir Joseph Swan in 1878, and patented in 1880. He used his bulbs to light the Savoy Theatre in London in 1881, which was the first building in the world to be entirely lit by electric light. 

Behold! The first ever electrically lit Christmas tree!  

The first known electrically lit Christmas tree was the creation of Edward H Johnson, vice-president of Edison's Electric Light Company. Edison was keen on publicity stunts and so in 1882 Johnson had some small electric lights produced. There were 80 lights in all, coloured red, white and blue, and h hung them on the tree at his home in New York City. The press seems to have largely ignored this stunt, except for a paper in Detroit, which did publish the story. I've read that the New York Times did eventually publish the story in 1884!!

Early Edison Christmas tree lights. Don't they look nice and safe!!!!
Subtle advertising for the benefits os electric lights!

Another early set of Christmas lights Circa 1903
Edison's company began producing Christmas lights commercially in the 1890's, though they were rather complicated as they each had to be hand-wired by a qualified electrician and proved rather an expensive novelty. However, in 1895 the first electrically lit Christmas tree appeared at the White House in Washington DC. 

In the early 20th century department stores in the USA began to use electric lights in their displays to attract customers to their stores. As Christmas tree lights became less expensive (and SAFER!) over time, their popularity grew.

Various sets of lights from the mid 20th century
In 1917 a 15 year old boy was so moved by a tragic fire caused by Christmas tree candles at a house in New York, that he encouraged his parents, owners of a business that produced illuminated novelties, to make some electric lights to hang on the tree to replace the candles. His parents liked the idea and some strings of lights were produced, with clear lamps. They didn't sell particularly well, but Albert Sadacca, the teenager in question, wasn't deterred, the following year he sold the lights again, but with coloured bulbs, and that was the beginnings of the NOMA Electric Company, which by the mid 20th century was the largest producer of Christmas tree lights in the world.

I remember well the string of coloured Pifco fairy lights (not the same as the ones above, ours were like coloured crystal stars) that we used to unpack every year as children for our own little Christmas tree, they lasted for years, though needed new bulbs over time. My mother probably still has them tucked away in her loft somewhere!

This is a cover from the same magazine as the one at the top of this post, but from 1949, notice anything different on the tree!!?