Scrooge Alive and Miserable at Tredegar House

A golden gateway to a Victorian Christmas framed the Tredegar House, located in Newport.  The walls surrounding the 17th century mansion concealed Christmas trees, decorations, presents and an odious gentleman.  “Bah,” said the angry gentleman, wearing a white nightgown and cap.

Scrooge sat in Tredegar House counting gold, and bringing a distinct chill to the room. The embers in the fire did not warm Scrooge’s welcome. He stared, in disgust, at his guests and did his best to make them feel unwelcome.

“I hate Christmas! There’s no point in all that nonsense,” sneered Scrooge at the suspicious children passing by.

A young boy stamped his foot on the oak floor.  “I like Christmas.  I’m getting a new bike,” declared the fair-haired boy.  He looked up at his father for reassurance.

Scrooge placed his arms lovingly around his piles of gold. ‘Humbug!’ he repeated constantly in his ‘grating voice’.

I heard the guests’ ‘laughter and good humour’, and this melted the frosty reception of Scrooge.  I heard parents retelling A Christmas Carol and explaining the character of Scrooge.  It was wonderful to observe literature brought to life through this interactive approach.

A child, called Beth, joined in the fun and declared, “Bah, humbug” to all the members of staff positioned in each room.  A toddler playing with a wooden train set, in the nursery, was reluctant to return it.  The cook invited everyone to stir the Christmas pudding, as she explained the glorious Christmas feast the family would have enjoyed. The quantities of food consumed in the grand house did make me wonder how that would have contrasted with the average Victorian Christmas. But the thought didn’t linger too long, because I was distracted by the sight dark-haired fellow, pacing up and down the court yard.  Later, I saw the gentleman at the writing desk. I peered in his notebook and it said, ‘Scrooge to honour Christmas’.

Many thanks to the National Trust, staff and volunteers for organising the festive experience.  Archways, gates, gardens and rooms were decked with Christmas cheer.  Not even Scrooge could freeze the glorious atmosphere at Tredegar House.

Following the visit, I decided it was time to decorate my own home.  I confess I watched Miracle on 34th Street, as I decorated each Christmas tree. I heard Valentine Davies say:

“Well, this is the Imagination. And once you get there you can do almost anything you want.”

I do hope the children visiting Scrooge found their imagination in that cold room, and will tell the story of their experience.


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Book dust and the curious world of ‘Book-ish’

It was like opening a book jacket into a giant book, when I opened the door into ‘Book-ish’, located in Crickhowell.  I looked up at the words ‘Book Dust’ above the shop door and let it settle on me.

I was Alice in Wonderland, as I explored the various rooms; and it became ‘curiouser and curiouser’.  Besides the books, treasures greeted me in every nook and cranny.  There were: cards, bags, soft toys, baubles, ornaments, but no sign of Captain Hook.

Passing through magical corridor from the main bookshop, I heard a little boy saying, “Wow!” to his mother, as they followed a staircase down into the children’s section.

And I hope that the little boy managed to find Harry Potter under the stairs, or perhaps he found some ‘read me labels’. Beyond the magical corridor, I was greeted with the aroma of coffee, alas there were no seats.

A gentleman, wearing a white shirt and waistcoat, looked up from his book. “Oh dear!” he declared. “I think there’s more seating upstairs.” he muttered, into his book.

Upstairs, there was a beautiful loft with a picture window framing a view of the Brecon Beacons, and plenty of seating.  A selection of wine was on display behind the bar that was decorated with lots of books. Various word and book games were scattered around for the customers to enjoy.  Clearly, this bookshop has been set up by a true book lover who values time to read, chat and eat. The ‘Book-ish’ cake menu has been designed to tempt the reader to stay. I chose The Queen of Hearts’ Bakewell Tarts. ‘Book-ish’ is a haven from the chaotic pace of modern life and a bibliophile’s dream.

I was writing for some time and taking pictures of the treasures, but no one asked questions.  I had entered a world of like-minded bookworms.  It felt as if I had travelled into cyberspace to meet my virtual friends.  Indeed, I was delighted that Sara Gethin’s book, ‘Not Thomas’ was there to keep me company.  The bookshop also hosts events in the loft space, and I couldn’t help wondering if Heidi also lives up there too.  I did find out that ‘The Snowman’ will be brought to life in the bookshop by Looby Lou.  I stayed in the shop for some time and imagined hosting a Books in Handbag meeting. I visualised bags and bags of books like a stairway to Heidi’s star filled sky.

I purchased a book entitled ‘Kindness: the little thing that matters the most’, by Jaimie Thurston. Indeed, the bookshop owner is spreading kindness to her customers by providing a reading space and not limiting time in the shop.  My Twitter and Facebook friends will understand my delight when I was handed my treasure in a brown bag that read, ‘BOOKS ARE MY BAG.’ I also discovered that the bookshop opened in the same month I launched my Books in my Handbag Blog.

Closing the door on the Bookish Narnia, I felt happy that I would return before the ‘Book Dust’ settles.  In the meantime, I must spread the word amongst my bookish community. Please don’t be late for this ‘very important date’ at ‘Book-ish’: a feast for the bookworm’s senses!

‘Sharing good news spreads positivity, changes attitudes and ultimately leads to more people feeling happy and encouraged.’

Kindness: the little thing that matters the most’, by Jaimie Thurston


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