Category Archives: Twelve Days of Christmas

More Christmas at Château de Vaux le Vicomte

It was probably obvious from my earlier post that I’m fascinated by Château de Vaux le Vicomte and its uber-celebration of Christmas. Since that posting, I’ve found a few more images and videos from the château.

First, there’s this beautiful short video from the Travel with Kat YouTube channel, which, btw, overflows with equally wonderful stuff.

View fullscreen. of course.

Then there are these pictures from the château’s website.

 

Finally, a revision of the official Christmas video, which is a mix of new footage and shots from the version I posted earlier.

Joyeux Noël!

Christmas at Château de Vaux le Vicomte

My Mother, who usually started decorating for Christmas sometime around Columbus Day, would have loved Christmas at Château de Vaux le Vicomte, although she might have found it a bit too restrained and understated. During the Christmas season, roughly mid-November through mid-January, she left no space untouched by toys and trees, tinsel and glitter.

I didn’t go home for Christmas as an adult. My painfully extreme introversion makes things like that simply impossible for me. But I saw the pictures, and, later, the videotape of what she’d created, and I heard the awed descriptions from one of my nieces: “It’s amazing! It’s like being in a toy store!”

Here’s a sampling of Christmas at Château de Vaux le Vicomte.


The Château is about an hour southeast of Paris. You can get there by public transit, using a train and shuttle, on those days when they’re not on strike.


This year’s “Vaux-le-Vicomte Celebrates Christmas” festivities began on 23 November and will be open from Wednesday to Sunday until 22 December. From 23 December until 5 January 2020, the celebration will be open every day except Christmas and New Year’s Day.


While the Chrstmas season is the most popular time to visit Château de Vaux le Vicomte, the estate is open to the public between mid-March and early November.

Well, maybe next year. The closest I’ll get to France this Christmas is having the $13 lunch special at Le Café Descartes, the cafeteria at the French Embassy.


Château de Vaux le Vicomte

This video begins with two or three minutes of superb drone views of the Château’s grounds, followed by some appropriately spectacular images from the Château’s appropriately spectacular interior. I have no idea why they decided to use what sounds like an Irish jig for the soundtrack, but you can always mute it if it gets too irritating. I sure did.

Need I remind you to view in full screen for the best results?

The Guardian Calls It the “Best Christmas Ad This Year”

The ad is for Hafod Hardware, a little family-run hardware store in the Welsh market town of Rhayader, population 2,088. The shop opened in 1895 and has been in the same extended family for most of the time since then. The ad’s star is two-year-old Arthur Lewis Jones, the youngest member of the family, and the man at the end of the video is Thomas Lewis Jones, father of the adorable Arthur.

Total cost of producing the ad:  £100, which was used to pay for the recording of the soundtrack. The ad was posted to YouTube on 1 December 2019, and has been viewed almost two million times in its first week online.

Thomas Lewis Jones with his son Arthur, the star of the ad, in Hafod Hardware store. Photograph: Dimitris Legakis/The Guardian

Thomas Lewis Jones with his son Arthur, the star of the ad, in Hafod Hardware store. Photograph: Dimitris Legakis/The Guardian


Bonus

On the “History” page of Hafod Hardware website, the owners note that: “Many visitors comment on the interior of the shop – particularly quoting the Two Ronnies’ sketch – and they always remark that there is a particular “smell” in ironmongers or hardware stores. We like to think it is meant as a compliment rather than a criticism!”

Here’s what they’re talking about:

Another Christmas Ad from the UK: The Argos “Book of Dreams”, with an 80s Flashback

This is the 2019 Christmas ad for the Argos “The Book of Dreams” catalogue.

The little girl in the video is nine-year-old Nandi Bushell, who has been drumming since she was three. She has her own YouTube channel.

Here she is a year ago, joyously covering Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times”.


When one of my nieces was a little older than the girl in the videos, I told her father that I’d promised to buy her a drum kit for Christmas, but only if she guaranteed that she’d practice drumming at least two hours a day.

I couldn’t make good on my promise, because shortly after I made it, he and his family moved, and didn’t leave a forwarding address.


Bonus

Here’s the full video for Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”.

I had some friends who loved Simple Minds until the band made the unforgivable mistake of becoming popular with the mainstream. That meant that they’d sold out, man, and were no longer acceptable to the fashionably unfashionable crowd that I hung out with at the old 9:30 club.

Me, I could never remember which musicians I was supposed to sneer at in any given week, and went on blissfully playing my tapes of New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) and Sparkle in the Rain despite the band’s fall from counter-cultural grace.

John Lewis (and Waitrose) Christmas Ad for 2019

In the UK, the appearance of Christmas television ads from department stores and supermarket chains is a very big event, big enough so that the commercials themselves get extensive news coverage and analysis.

One of the most eagerly anticipated Christmas ads is the one for John Lewis, the department store chain. This year, John Lewis partnered with Waitrose Supermarkets to create an ad that features an excitable little dragon whose enthusiasm for the season sometimes, uh, misfires.