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November 9, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley’s Christmas lights, launch & decorations


2013-11-08, Christmas decorations London W8Apley’s Christmas launch began this evening with The Hope House Hospice children switching on our Christmas lights. Abraham Darby Academy’s Saxophone Band again came to play to visitors whilst they enjoyed mulled wine & hot turkey rolls with cranberry.

As I began chatting with visitors, out of the blue (or actually the Christmassy lit Courtyard) a childhood friend who I haven’t seen for about 30 yrs came & re-introduced herself, which was fabulous as you can imagine !

My day was totally taken up finishing off the beautiful Christmas tree decorations which Jason had been working on during the week. On Thursday night, he & Bert worked 9pm to 1am spraying layers of white paint on them so they would have enough time to dry (November isn’t of course the best month for drying !). That’s incredibly generous & committed – I’m soooo grateful. ! Phil (Garden) & Alan (Woods) had supplied the hazel, so they’ve very much been a team creation.

2014-11-05, Christmas flower stands by Jason (3)The result was fabulous. As I unloaded the last 3 trees from our horsebox (best thing to transport them in as they’re very tall), the band were just beginning to play. Immediately they were admired by a passing shopper who examined the first ones closely.2014-11-04, Christmas flower stands by Jason 1, cropped

During the year, I take photos of inspirational designs, from which I select the best few in October, to convert into my own designs for Apley’s Christmas theme. So, one of these photos was taken as I cycled past a hotel opposite the front of Kensington Palace (photo here). Sticks painted white looked easy enough (!) & I knew we had endless supplies of sticks. The stands reminded me of 11 flowers stands left behind by a former tenant & the balls of twisted willow surely wouldn’t take long. That wasn’t the case at all – it’s very hard to twist hazel & willow round into a ball without getting whipped across the face with a loose end. The electric paint sprayers kept clogging up & used huge amounts of paint (they ran out at midnight & went off to get more). Here are some stage by stage photos of how they were created. I love the fact that once again, nearly all our decorations are made using whatever we had to hand & recycling materials. For example, at the last minute, I had to disguise the sand bags – what a great use of an inside-out game feed bag – Katy over-kindly said they even looked like piles of snow at the foot of each tree !

2014-11-06, Christmas flower stands by Jason 6I whizzed by TFM (my favourite local shop) to collect 22 sandbags (no need for a gym !) to weigh the stands / trees down once installed. A production line was created with Katy (housekeeper), our au pair & Venetia (9) to reinforcing the red & gold baubles & hanging them, to add colour. I looked like Bear Grylls for a half an hour as I clambered in the undergrowth collecting ivy, which we then wrapped around each one to add green. Finally, each ‘tree’ needs about 15m of lights – for 11 trees, that’s 165m ! I’m getting the sorted tomorrow. They looked so pretty as the evening got darker (lovely full moon too). Phew !

Christmas tree of baublesMeantime, Katy had finished the second laundry airer, hanging with decorations in the Farm Shop. The cone Christmas tree was inspired by this Parisian shop window (more than 2 yrs ago) & Kerplunk !

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