A trip to the Christmas Market!

Well, we’re having our annual outing to the Vaark Christmas Market this afternoon! It’s a grey day, but the fairy lights and lanterns make it very cheerful!

The vaark christmas market is set up with cabins selling goods, fairy lights and battery tealights

We’ve got a Santa’s grotto, stalls selling decorations and presents, and refreshments. Everything you need at Christmas!

Ratvaark is dressed as Santa outside a grotto with a North Pole sign

We see Winston’s Christmas Tat Emporium and the Festive Snacks stall

Peggy is in charge of a Gluhwein stall with a tureen of wine and china mugs

Hypno is very pleased to meet Father Christmas. He’s so jolly. Hypno-ho-ho!

Hypno talks to Santa

Matilda loves the decorations, all so sparkly!

Matilda admires the wreaths and baubles on the decoration stall

Winston is busy setting up his Christmas Tat, I mean Unique Gift, Emporium. Something for everyone here!

Winston has a selection of ornaments, toys and odds and ends

There’s always a crowd at the Festive Snack stall, obviously. Microvaark has some new stock this year, chocolate sprouts! Only to him, they look more like cabbages…

There is a queue of vaarks at the Festive Snacks stall.

Micro stands next to a tub of chocolate balls wrapped in foil to look like sprouts.

And it wouldn’t be a Christmas Market without a warming drink. There’s hot chocolate too. And of course, a warm greeting from Peggy.

Fury and Gino are queueing up for a mug of gluhwein

Now then, Winston is all set up. And Hypno wants to know what that yellow thing is? Ah, says Winston, that’s a caleye… kalyi… twirly looky thing.

Winston stands by his stall of stuff

Hypno talks to Winston about a yellow object

Well, that sounds interesting, says Hypno, lets’s have a look…

Hypno bends down to look through the kaleidoscope

Wooooo! Far out man! Hypno defintitely wants to buy that!

We see a distorted kalaeidoscope image of Winston

Fury says she’s pleased to see Winston has a couple of toy cars. Nano says, That’s not a toy! I’ll have that one!

Fury looks at a couple of tiny model cars on Winston’s stall

Nano has jumped into one of the model cars an is driving off

Oh look, says Nano, it’s that curator chap from the Museum who valued your unique Greek Urn. He’s come to see the market! Eh? says Winston. Crikey!

Nano sees the Museum Curator vaark approaching Winston’s stall

Nice to see you again, says Henry. Not got any more priceless urns for sale then, ha ha? No, says Winston, definitely not. Shut up Micro.

The curator talks to Winston, who is standing in front of an identical urn to the one he sold. Micro looks at the urn.

Time for a bit of music now. The brass band are playing a selection of carols and Christmas songs.

Ernest, Winston and Bernard are dressed in uniforms and caps, holding a trombone, a trumpet and a French Horn

And here’s Micro to do his bit as chorister. “Once in Royal David’s City….”

Microvaark, dressed as a chorister, has joined the band

A close up of Microvaark singing

Oh Matilda, hello. Er, is that a PRAM?

Matilda arrives pushing what looks like a black metal pram

Oh! No. It’s a Chestnut roasting barrow! How nice, Hot Roast Chestnuts for everyone, she’s doing a roaring trade.

Matilda turns the pram round to reveal a sign saying Hot Chestnuts and glowing coals inside. She has paper bags of chestnuts

The vaarks queue up to buy hot chestnuts

As an extra treat this year, Arnold has arranged a skating rink, what fun!

There is a foil pie dish in the middle of the market with Vincent and Micro skating on it

A close up of Vincent and Micro on skates on the rink

Peggy is especially happy and can’t wait for her turn, she loves skating.

Peggy waits for her turn, wearing skates

Well, says Nano, what a lovely time we’re having. We hope you’ve enjoyed our market, if you’ve missed your own this year.

A close up of Nano in his red christmas sweater

And as it gets dark, the lights seem brighter. We’re going to carry on enjoying ourselves into the night!

A scene of the market in the dark with lights glowing

A scene of the market in the dark with lights glowing

25th December: Merry Christmas!

For our final dish, on Christmas Day, we have a candle. Arnold has agreed to supervise, so that we can light it!

Sometimes candles are used to countdown the days or weeks to Christmas. Candles can be made of wax or fat, perfumed or not, but they all give off light, which is an important feature of mid-winter festivals. When we’re all missing the sun a bit, it’s a message that the light will come back again!

Ratvaark lights the candle

And so, we wish you all a Merry and Peaceful Christmas, with snacks galore!

All the vaarks look at the camera, gathered in front of their tree, with the candle glowing at the top.

24th December: Rudolph!

Gino found a very jolly reindeer head to put on the tree, but he had to assure Matilda that it wasn’t really Rudolph!

Gino shows Matilda a reindeer head

Reindeer live in the far north and have thick coats and wide feet to help them walk on the snow. Most people know them as the animals who pull Santa Claus’ sleigh through the air, guided by Rudolph’s shiny red nose!

Gino puts the reindeer head on the tree

23rd December: Dashing through the snow.

Ofelia is enjoying a sleigh ride on a starry night, wrapped up warm in her blanket.

Ofelia rides in a sleigh, pulled by a knitted unicorn.

A sleigh is a sort of cart that has runners to travel on snow. It could be pulled by horses, or even dogs, but at Christmas of course, we think of Santa’s sleigh, which is pulled by reindeer, and flies through the air!

Esther puts a sleigh near the top of the tree as Microvaark watches from the very top

22nd December: Skate away!

In the olden days, sometimes winters were much colder than they are now, and big rivers like the Thames used to freeze over. People would skate about on them and have fun, and other people set up stalls to sell food and souvenirs. They were called Frost Fairs.

Peggy Gino and some vaarks skate on ice, with Winston’s burger van in the background

Ofelia found a lovely skate, but she needed a boost from Winston to reach to put it on the tree!

21st December: A sweet little house!

Hypno and Fury have been making some gingerbread. Hypno did suggest that workshop dungarees weren’t quite the right outfit, but Fury said she wasn’t wearing a pinny for anybody.

Fury and Hypno roll out a ball of dough

Once the bits were cut out, Hypno made sure to watch the oven so they didn’t burn. Gingerbread is a very delicious Christmas snack, often cut into festive shapes, and decorated with icing. Sometimes, gingerbread is even made into a house, decorated with icing and sweets!

Now, it just needs assembling, and a bit of decoration. Well, that’s…. Yes, well, it’s definitely a house. Well done you two!

Matilda found a slightly prettier gingerbread house for our tree, and we ate the one Hypno and Fury baked! Delicious!

Matilda puts a little gingerbread house on the tree

20th December: The holly bears the crown.

Holly is a tree with prickly leaves, which people often decorate their houses with at Christmas. There is even a carol about it, The Holly and the Ivy. Although a sprig of holly is sometimes put on top of a Christmas pudding, you better not eat it – it’s poisonous!

Because it’s so prickly, Arnold used tongs to put the holly on the tree!

19th December: Get cracking!

Lots of people have a dish of nuts at Christmas… No, Fury, not that sort of nuts!

Fury has a stack of big metal hexagonal nuts

Here, try using your hammer on this walnut. No? Maybe a bigger hammer?

Anyway, lots of people have a dish of nuts at Christmas and there are traditions of children scrambling for nuts thrown down during Christmas celebrations. The good thing about nuts is, you can’t get into them very easily, so you can just use the same ones again next year.

Ratvaark balances an almond on his snozzle to pass it up to Fury who has put a walnut and hazelnut on the tree

18th December: Deck the halls…

Wreaths can be worn on the head, but Christmas wreaths are usually hung on front doors to decorate houses. They can be made from all sorts of evergreens, like holly or ivy, with berries or baubles for colour.

Ernest found a perfect wreath for our tree, and even he had to stand on the chair to put it up there!

What? We are just sniffing the chocolate, honest!

Ernest looks at Ratvaark, Arnold and Fury, who are nibbling the yule log on a lower branch.

16th December: Bernard’s triumph.

Bernard has been growing a poinsettia, a plant often given at Christmas. It starts out all green, but if it has the right mix of light and dark, the top leaves, or ‘bracts’ go red. Bernard put his in the shed and covered the window up to make it dark.

And it worked! He is very proud of it, and it’s just perfect for our tree.