Good morning children, are you sitting comfortably? Then let's begin. This is a tail of two simple country folks and their mission to add some festive greenery to their home this Christmas season. See their happy smiling faces, don't they look innocent and ever so slightly pleased with themselves. They think this is going to be easy.
Well children, I don't think it will be, what do you think?
Down the road at the local garden centre our intrepid due are searching through the fields of trees trying to find just the right one.
Now normally the larger of our two heroes would choose a 6 foot tall bristly tree that would fit nicely into their small cottage at the top of the hill.
Not this year, oh no, there is a plan afoot. This tree must be photographed for her new book "So Easy Christmas" so just has to be perfect. It must be the perfect cone shape with no gaps, it must be a standard pine tree (none of that fancy 'holds the needles-doesn't smell at all-costs a bloody fortune type') very busy, great green colour, oh and maybe quite big.
After cruising around on the quad we find the perfect tree. Well let's be honest, it would be the perfect tree if you lived in a Georgian manor house with 18 foot ceilings and enough room for a string quartet in the other corner of the room.
Anyway it looks perfect and the larger of our heroes is dazzled and Wants That tree.
Have you ever seen two country folks trying to stuff an over 8 foot pine tree into a nissan Micra? I have, and it's not a pretty sight.
Luckily our intrepid duo have only a 5 minute drive to get home. This is extremely fortuitous as the larger one has a branch across her face and can hardly see out the windscreen. The smaller one is buried somewhere under the tree in the back.
All goes well until they reach home and have to offload the tree. Having stuffed it in bottom first they find that now the damn thing is firmly wedged in with it's banches stuck under seats, round the gear stick and generally everywhere.
A helpful neighbour pops up to help haul the reluctant shrub from the vehicle.
Buggles now renamed Prickles due to the 2 inches deep carpet of green jaggy stuff coating the interior.
The tree spends the night outside the front door and our heroes find themselves having to mince sideways just to get in an out.
When smaller team member heads off to school the larger one decided to drag in the tree and get it all ready for a gentle afternoon of decorating with child. Maybe some Christmas music could set the scene. She is falling into that fearsome festive trap – imagining everything is perfect and life is a victorian book illustration.
Now let's think back a bit kiddies, what size was this tree? Yes that's right it was a great big bushy one. So bushy it couldn't get through the front door with anything approaching ease. The inner door caused even more of a problem, but our intrepid hero was made of strong stuff and hauled that tree into the living room with a determination usually reserved for hunting out a bar of chocolate when there's a good film on the telly.
Now there is a special little iron base for holding the christmas tree up. Our hero remembers that this has been left just outside the back door where it has been since January. Alas the weather is so cold it has frozen to the ground and is solid with ice. She spends 15 minutes in shed rooting through nasty rusty and extremely dangerous looking weapons (tools I think they are called) to find something to chisel it out with.
Job done she then waits another hour while the block of ice inside melts on the aga so the stand can actually be used.
At last, now she can put the tree up, how simple, such fun. See Karon wrestling with the monster greenery and realising that it is a tad tricky to aim it at the tree base and actually get it to fit. finally stands up and she wriggles underneath to tighten the bolts. Told you t was simple. She stands back and admires her handiwork.
5 minutes later the tree crashes down (see above pic). She manhandles the creature and stands it up again, retightens the bolts and retires to kitchen for a cuppa. Ominous sounds from living room as it meets the floor again.
Now this is a tree on a mission, it falls over a grand total of 6 times. Our hero is a little stressed. see her underneath the tree covered in prickles, here the loud naughty words she is screeching. Is she happy, I don't think so kiddies, do you?
After struggling out from under the greenery she retires to kitchen to think things through. Maybe a large bucket instead of the metal stand. A walk round the frozen garden to find inspiration. aha, the wooden crate outside HQ that has plat pots and old sewing machine (garden display, not dumped!) inside. Go back to shed to get weapon/tool to chisel the pots out as frozen solid. Lift nasty dirty wooden crate into house.
Now the fun part. Lifting monster tree complete with iron stand off the floor and get the damn thing into the crate. Oh those naughty words again and they are getting louder by the minute! She then uses all the wood that is beside the fire to stuff into the crate to hold the tree in place.
Voila the tree is up.
Now test the lights. Bearing in mind our heroes normally have a standard 6 foot tree, not something like this that your average Druids would not be ashamed to dance round. There are three sets of lights. she untangles them carefully and of course doesn't try them first. Oh no she winds them on the tree, up and down and round and rouns. Then switches them on. As the song says '2 out of 3 ain't bad' – 2 out of 3 is not good either. Work out which string is dead and untangle lights and personage from the greenery.
by now it is 4pm and second in command returns from school expecting tree to be ready for action. Throw her into Prickles the car 'don't be silly, they're not that uncomfortable and head off to village to buy another set of lights. Also find some old fashioned tacky silvery stuff to throw about the tree.
Return home and test the lights, thankfully okay. Remove weasel from his hiding place half way up the tree, weasel likes the tree. Finish lighting mission and then the dynamic duo actually decorate the tree. Usually we have two trees but this monster is more than enough. Everything goes on it, dodgy pieces of plastic hanging at the back, best bits in Pole position.
It takes 2 hours to get it finished off. To get it in and keep it standing has taken a grand total of 6 hours.
Was it all worth it?
Oh yes, I think so kiddies, don't you?