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Artyness columnist Barbara Henderson finds advent a lovely time to wind-down


By Barbara Henderson


It’s here! As a native German I am obsessed with advent.

Barbara Henderson.
Barbara Henderson.

The quiet, candle-burning, reflective advent rather than the disco-lights-and-singing-cuddly-polar-bear variety, just to be clear.

It’s a countdown and a wind-down at the same time. In the summer, there is a flurry of activity, and everyone seems to outdo each other in their adventurous exploits.

Not so in December. No, it’s entirely acceptable to batten down the hatches, read books, watch box sets, listen to podcasts and enjoy the peace of our own four walls. A time where rest and reflection, quiet and contemplation suddenly become socially acceptable. I love it! As I think about that, News Year’s resolutions are so last year!

Here are some of my resolutions for the run-up to Christmas:

Choose handmade, local and independent: I am going to try and source as many presents as I can in this way. We are so lucky to have a great variety of independent bookshops across the Highlands. Saying that, I have just ordered Christmas cards from Inverness-based illustrator Meg Mclaren – she has wonderful prints and stationery too. The One Of A Kind Gallery in the Eastgate stocks a wide variety of local artists and crafters including fantastic earrings made by EmmaMakesHighland. I think I may have been the first to model her book stack earrings. For little ones, drop by Pauline Mackay’s Ablekids Press shop on the Market Stairs for bilingual picture books and much more.

Eden Court. Picture: HN&M
Eden Court. Picture: HN&M

Support local culture: You simply can’t beat a voucher for Eden Court as a present! Both theatres and creatives have had a tough few years. The recipient is sure to find much of interest on Eden Court’s varied programme.

Celebrate stories: What better way to while away a winter day than with a tale? I like my reading seasonal, so my Christmas book pile contains Jenny Colgan’s The Christmas Bookshop. I was delighted to meet Jenny at the John O’Groats Book Festival where her humour was an absolute hit with the audience. I’m also very partial to crime author Denzil Meyrick’s seasonal Tales From Kinloch. The latest one is called Ghosts In The Gloaming. If a gentle, Whisky Galore-esque chuckle is what you’re after, look no further – and the cover is breathtakingly gorgeous. For little ones, I am doing Family Festive Storytelling at the Inverness Botanic Gardens this Sunday, December 11. There will be three drop-in sessions between 2 and 4pm, and my fellow Artyness columnist Liza Mulholland will provide the music. No charge, but donations to RASASH Highland.

Embrace the occasion: No December is complete without attending a Christmas service for me. All churches will have events, but this Sunday, December 11 at 4.30pm, Inverness Baptist Church offers outdoor carol-singing beneath the castle. Refreshments provided!

And finally, rest: as above! Happy advent to you all.


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