strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
I have wanted to make this post for three days, but have been unable to do so until now because I could not load my LJ photo galleries. As multiple friends have noted, LJ has been shonky in a number of ways over the same period, and although it seems OK again now, the problems seem to be associated with a server move to Russia - and I must say I also feel very uncomfortable about relying on anything in Russia for the ongoing preservation of a journal I have been carefully curating for 13 years now. I've never felt so inclined to set up a Dreamwidth mirror... but then again something [ profile] nwhyte said in an entry earlier today made me doubt that Dreamwidth has proper picture-hosting facilities at all. It's all sadly ironic that this should happen just when people are genuinely popping up on LJ again, thanks I understand to a FB LJ-nostalgia community.

Anyway, here's what I actually wanted to post - a few pictures of our Christmas. We booked a cottage in the Cotswolds village of Bourton-on-the-Water this year - 'we' in this case being me, my Dad, my sister and her husband and children. None of us had ever done Christmas this way before, but we decided to try it on the grounds that it would be healthier and cheerier to do something new and different this year, rather than try to re-create our normal family Christmas but with one person missing. It would also allow flexible levels of participation for each person, in that everyone could choose whether to hang out with the other cottage residents, go out for a walk or simply lie on their bed reading a book. And I'm glad to say it worked really well. We did remember Mum of course, and Dad had a couple of tearful moments. But for a first Christmas without her, it was actually really nice and enjoyable and nothing like as difficult as I suspect it would have been in the family home, or even my sister's home (where Mum had also been for Christmas day a couple of times in recent years).

We arrived in the afternoon of the 23rd, in pretty rotten weather, and got settled in. We had brought a LOT of food, which took quite a bit of unpacking and putting away, while Christophe admired the (fake) Christmas tree which the cottage owners had supplied, and Eloise enjoyed The Snow Dog.

Pictures start here )

Anyway, here we are in the Festive Perineum (h/t [ profile] inbetween_girl), which I found boring as a teenager, but has now become one of my favourite times of the year. The obligations of Christmas are all fulfilled, my work email account is blissfully free of people demanding things, and it is genuinely OK to sit around in my dressing-gown watching a Buffy marathon on SyFy and ordering the unpurchased items on my Amazon wish-list. I wondered about driving up to Allendale for their New Year's tar bar'l procession this year, as 2016 is a year which I feel pretty strongly could do with a good burning out. But the weather reports say it will be raining pretty heavily there right over midnight, so maybe not. I am open to other suggestions, if anyone has any?

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strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
Well, I would love to be able to say that the annual Doctor Who special is my favourite Christmas TV. And indeed it probably is fair to say that one of my favourite parts of Christmas Day is sitting down to watch that year's Doctor Who special. But the truth is that the story-telling in the Doctor Who Christmas specials usually falls solidly within the bottom quartile for quality by comparison with the ordinary weekly episodes produced in the same year, and the one broadcast last Christmas (Narnian forests and tropey guff about motherhood, for those who have blanked it out) was just awful.

Meanwhile, on a stage which extends beyond Christmas Day itself, the Doctor Who specials have to contend with The Box of Delights, and they simply cannot win that fight - not any of them. Quite apart from the fantastic theme tune and opening sequence, Box offers childhood nostalgia, time travel, snowy landscapes, Romans, magic, paganism, scary wolves, some absolutely fantastic villains and Patrick Troughton.

It isn't perfect. I don't know what's changed in how child actors are trained since the 1980s, but you definitely seemed to get a much higher incidence of clipped woodenness back then than you do now. I was also surprised to find, when I bought myself a DVD of The Box of Delights last December and re-watched it for the first time in at least a decade (and only the second time since my childhood), that the story was much less well-paced and structured that I had remembered. But it is a tribute to how captivating it was to me as a child that a very vivid memory of the individual scenes, characters and excitement of the whole story has stayed with me all that time. It captures a very British sense of Christmassy magic, without descending into cliché and schmaltziness, which I really don't think any other seasonal TV production has ever come close to.

So this has to be my nomination for favourite, and I am already looking forward to watching it again this Christmas. This time, though, at the steady rate of one episode a day until Christmas Eve, à la [ profile] altariel, rather than all in one joyous rush of rediscovery like last year.

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