Christmas foraging

Wed, 16/12/2009 - 16:59
Submitted by Fergus Collins

I watched The Age of Stupid the other night and it sent me into a pit of depression about climate change and the end of the world. But my more optimistic wife wasn’t letting imminent global catastrophe get her down – it was time to put up the Christmas decorations.
Sadly, the old box of festive frippery was looking jaded – the ghosts of at least a dozen Christmas pasts. There was talk – talk mind you – of heading to the shops and buying a carful of imported tinselly tat. But I could still see Pete Postlethwaite’s ogre-ish face warning me: NO TAT.
And as for the tree… well, a decent-sized one costs £25 at this end of Bristol. So, baulking at buying a farmed evergreen, I lopped the top off our magnolia tree (it had been asking for it, mind you), covered it in lights and baubles and, lo and behold, we have a rather unique and beautiful alternative. Each twig ends in a fluffy catkin – a natural bauble.
For the rest of the house, we put junior Collins in a sling (not in the tree) and headed off to the local woods armed with secateurs and a few bags. We found loads of holly, wonderful spindle tree berries resembling little pink flowers, liana-like ivy, old man’s beard, springs of cypress and a load of other natural tinsel.

We didn’t cut anything down, just trimmed a few little ends here and there. We even burst into an impromptu chorus of 'The holly and the ivy' though junior had wind and never quite hit his stride.
The result – a lovely home-made wreath on the door (saving a tenner) and halls (well, hall and living room) decked with boughs of holly and other wild delights. I haven't felt this Christmassy in years.
But I had to put a bit of tinsel over the mantelpiece. Didn’t feel right without it.

Anyone else planning wild decorations this year? Countryfile magazine would love to hear all about it.

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