Menu

 

 

Sunday

July 24, 2022

 

 

 

 

UPDATE: July 17, 2022

    Hi Everyone from sunny England! Yes, you read that correctly... we are experiencing a bit of a summer heatwave at present and guess what, most are complaining about the heat! 

 

   As mentioned previously our thoughts and energy from January, when our village is dismantled, until June is put towards the planning and preparation of our annual fundraising event. We provide a traditional English Afternoon Tea for friends and family in our back garden and raise money for our local hospital. We provided a record 200 teas in total!

 

We did have to put it back a month to avoid clashing with the Queens Jubilee celebrations. (I did ask but she wouldn’t budge!) Anyway the whole event was a great success (and hard work!). We are able to donate £5450 to the local hospital. You will have to do your own currency conversions!

 

 

   So now we can start talking about this years plans for our Christmas village, which is exactly what Sue and I were doing today over a pub lunch. 

 

   Location… the last two years we have built it in our main living space, on our dining table mainly. We think that we will revert to the conservatory as it impacts less on the living routine for three months. We realise we have more buildings and accessories than we can nicely fit in so some big decisions to be made there. Our ski slope has really been a problem as it seems to take too much prominence and our mission is to somehow get it to blend in a bit more. The hardest decision for me, although I think I’ve made my mind up, is to leave out the train! I know… controversial! It could mean early retirement for the station master! 

 

 

   The difficulty is making a decent size loop in a confined space. It affects the placement options of buildings etc so much. The plan is to have an extended trolley line, or to buy an additional trolley and run two! We like to see movement in our village and we rarely ran the train for more than a few circuits at a time as it became a bit repetitive. The trolleys just trundle along sedately and can run non stop for a good while. I just came across this whilst wandering around the internet, no idea if its  still available and I don’t recall seeing it in any videos, but it looks pretty cool to me!

 

   Our intention is to commence the build at the end of September. Part of the fun is in the planning and trying to do things a little different each year. We started off, many years ago with just a small display on a table top with a couple of lit buildings. If we can do it.. anyone can! 

 

Cheers!

 

Phil and Sue Adkins 

Northampton 

England

 

 

 

Update: May 26, 2022

Hi to everyone from Phil and Sue in England!

Christmas village season is all year round for Bill,

and others too, but we have to concentrate on something

else between January and July.  This will be the 5th year

of our charity fundraising event “Sue's Afternoon Tea” which

we hold in our garden. Anyways, for two days over the

weekend we provide teas for family and friends, with home made

cakes, scones and sandwiches to enjoy. We make around 175 teas

altogether and all the money raised goes to the local hospital. This

year we hope to take the total raised since we started to

over £10,000. In contrast to winter village pictures I’ll add a

few photos from last years event. 

 

Take care everyone and roll on Christmas! 

Phil and Sue Adkins 

Northampton 

England 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 10  -  February 6, 2022

 

It is now February and Christmas seems a good while away,

that is until yesterday and an e-mail from Lemax dropped into my in-box.

It was to advertise its newest creations for villagers to peruse and purchase….

 

The 2022 Lemax Christmas and Spooky Town Villages

This year, we've added over 200 new items with 147 new

Holiday and Christmas pieces and 53 new Spooky Town pieces.

 

I had to read that twice! Over 200 new items! That is just incredible,

how busy have they been in their design studios!  Inevitably, as I’m

sure many others did, we sat down and clicked through every image,

discussing the merits and debits of each one and creating a mental

shortlist of wanted items. In all honesty we really don’t need much

more than a couple of pieces to add new interest to the considerable

collection we already have. Indeed we added a few new items in the

online sites discount sale just after Christmas. 

 

 

Three new items bought at half price, and we also bought a few bits just

before Christmas which never got into the village, one being Sues pick, the

reindeer petting farm. This brings back memories of a recent holiday in

Scotland and visiting the reindeer centre in the Cairngorms. I’m sure some

of you keep your villages up all year round but unfortunately space does

 not allow us that luxury, we haven’t seen the dining table for three months! 

Once the Christmas tree and lights and decorations have all been taken

down it’s the sad task of dismantling our village. Hours of effort,

pleasure and joy in sharing all about to disappear. 

 

 

The railway station was the first to go, no more trips on the Santa Express

this year! (well not quite true, a few more journeys took place before the

locomotive was decommissioned, but the passengers had nowhere to

disembark) Packing the buildings away back into their original boxes

does take a bit of care and I was chastised several times for clumsy

handling resulting in the odd “ sticky out bit” being knocked off. 

 

 

Very quickly the landscape changes from one of fun and excitement to

one of despair and devastation. The shops are closed, the fairground is

silent and even the harbour is drained. But a glimmer of light during this

dark moment as the conversation turns to “next year”. We discuss what to

do better and where to locate the village, with the conservatory being the

favoured option, but that’s all for later in the year. 

 

 

“ Well dear, it looks like it’s time to go! “ 

 

 

There we are , all packed away and safely stored back in the attic. For

a few days it seems strange walking into the room and the village isn’t

there anymore, but we have lovely memories of all the friends and family

who got to visit this year, the look of wonder on the childrens faces and

all the goodwill from the adults. The construction of the village is

great fun but the sharing is the best ! 

 

It’s also been fun sharing our village with you, the people reading

this very column. I’ve never done anything like this before and it’s

weird to think someone on the other side of the world has

an interest in my written words. 

 

Take care everyone out there in villaging world,

and I’ll check in occasionally as we go through the year. 

 

Cheers

 

Phil and Sue Adkins 

Northampton 

England

 

Episode 9  -  December 29, 2021

Firstly, apologies for the longer than usual gap between episodes.

Thankfully webmaster Bill doesn’t hold us to publication deadlines

and is very understanding! Just a few items to mention as incidental

to our village experience. It all began for us many years ago when

as newly married couple my parents gave us a gift set of six miniature

houses, very similar to one they have and which came out every Christmas

time. As they are quite elderly now it is our job to get their decorations

down from their attic and of course the miniature village, still in it’s original

box. With all our current passion for villaging and the fun we have on this

website it was quite emotional to once again hold the

original box that started it all off! 

 

 

My mum proudly set the pieces out on the shelf, proving that

villaging doesn’t have any minimum size to give pleasure. 

 

 

I have been mesmerised with recording our village video. Often frustrated

at not getting things quite how I want them and spending far too much time

( apparently) constantly re editing and analysing my efforts. This is only my

second attempt using my phones I-movie app and after reading through all

of Jim Peters’ articles I thought I would be an expert at it, far from it! Several

times Sue took over to save the day as my shaky hand just wasn’t up to it.

(evidenced by the opening sequence!).  As Bill says… look beyond the filming

abilities and see the passion! Whilst doing the filming it becomes clear the

importance of getting the lighting right, too dark and you lose the detail, too

bright and no visual effect of the lovely lights on the buildings. I used a

floodlight pointing up in the hope of avoiding my own shadow! 

 

 

It was interesting reading about Bills experience with the new wireless

lighting system, I haven’t seen it here in the UK just yet. I did improvise

a bit with some little wireless remote control colour changing lights. 

 

 

We did raise just over £200 from visitors donations which we used to

support Northampton General Hospitals Christmas gift appeal. Hopefully

it helped raise the spirits of the elderly in hospital at this time. 

 

 

So that’s about it! Hopefully you have enjoyed following our

story and all that’s left is to share the video! 

 

Happy New Year to you all! 

Phil and Sue Adkins, Northampton, England. 

 

https://youtu.be/pCsIgxV5I3Q

 

Cheers!

 

 
 

 

Episode 8  -  December 4, 2021

 

With the village now complete, apart from very minor tinkering,

thoughts turn towards welcoming visitors to view it.

 

 

Last year we had no visitors at all  because of the Covid restrictions

so it’s going to be lovely once again to see friends and family as they

call round to see the village. It’s especially nice to see the youngsters,

wide eyed with amazement at all the lights and sounds. We give them

a little game of counting how many Santas they can spot, which keeps

them amused as the grown ups catch up on the gossip! Also a few

Christmas themed snacks go down well, and a mince pie and

mulled wine for the adults. 

 

 

Easy to miss this one! 

 

A recent young visitor, George, aged 7, informed me there were nine

Santas he could find. Well, I had only counted eight! I asked him to

show me and right enough he was correct! Our visitors kindly leave

a small donation, which nearer Christmas we tally up and purchase

gifts for the elderly in the local hospital over Christmas. I mentioned

in an earlier episode that the fireworks were attached in quite a

rudimentary fashion. Well this came back to haunt us as our

first mishap occurred and the red firework fell to the ground!

 

 

Minor mishaps like this do happen from time to time. Luckily a train

derailment didn’t happen in the tunnel section so was quickly sorted.

Not so easy was a power failure to several items at once, a bit of

un-plugging and by elimination a faulty extension cable (power strip?)

was the culprit. Although we don’t need any more things for the village

this year, on a recent wander around Stratford-on-Avon, a Christmas

shop drew us in like a powerful magnet ! We didn’t buy much

but this fellow caught our eye..

 

 

From that picture it is difficult to discern his size, but he fits

perfectly outside the Toys and Trinkets store! 

 

 

From time to time we watch the slushy Christmas movies that are

on TV in the afternoons, and we see so many of these life size

Nutcracker figures. Sue wants one for home but they are difficult

to find here and very expensive.

 

In my next episode I will show you how villaging started

for us many years ago! 

 

Cheers!

 

 

 

Episode 7  -  November 26, 2021

 

Good news! The sheep have been rounded up and

found a home, however no sign of the pigs this year.

Probably best not to ask too many questions! 

 

 

As the Christmas season gets nearer we like to visit “festive things”.

It puts us in the mood for the joyous Christmas season, and to see

more than the usual amount of smiles all around. A recent trip we

took was to the historic Chatsworth House. It is decorated up for

Christmas and has a big market and light displays in the extensive

gardens. It is some of these features we try to recreate in our

miniature villages, or is it reality copying us? 

 

 

These stalls in our village are doing a brisk trade..

 

 

However the real thing is quite busy too!

 

 

After dark and they look even nicer…

 

 

As we walk around, soaking up the atmosphere of the sights,

sounds and smells I can’t help thinking how “Lemax” looking

some of the participants seem. This coffee and crepes

van looks just the part to go in our village! 

 

  

 

The closest we have got is this one, 

 

 

We were totally enthralled by an old fashioned manually operated

music organ. It was delightful and straight from a Dickensian street

scene, I think Lemax need to commission something like this! 

 

 

We would buy it for sure, it would sit nicely with

some similar items we have. 

 

 

To get back to our village, it is now just about complete.

One tradition we have, each year our daughter has to place

the last few people into the village. She always enjoyed helping

us with the village but since going to university in Nottingham

about twelve years ago has lived away from home. So a special

weekend visit home and she places the last villagers into their

positions. Well, that is supposed to be the case, as Sue and I

agreed we don’t need to buy any more “Lemax” this year.

Nexttime I’ll tell you what was bought at a visit to

another garden centre! 

 

I’ll end this episode with a few pictures from Chatsworth House. 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

 

 

Episode 6  -  November 15, 2021

 

We love fireworks ! However I have never really got them as I want

them, the black background they are on I have found difficult to

blend in with the rest of the display, this is last year’s display…

 

 

However once again, inspiration from fellow villagers and

their ideas means we are going to try and fix them behind the

background cloth. This probably would have been better doing

at an earlier point in the construction. Rather crudely they are

hung from the framework with string and double sided sticky

tape attached to the front and then pressed tight to the back

cloth. We were quite impressed with the results!

 

 

 

Our ski slope is not for the faint hearted! Definitely a

black run with a pretty steep incline.

 

 

Only the bravest take on the challenge….

 

 

Unfortunately what they don’t know is there is not a lot of

room at the bottom of the slope, many a mishap as skiers

and tobogganists fail to stop safely!

 

 

The obstruction at the bottom of the slope is in fact the grandest

house of the village , Emma’s Cottage, as our daughter is called

Emma this has to be a “show home”. Enclosed landscaped

garden, hot tub and the only motor vehicle in town!

 

 

Sue’s latest innovation is to incorporate a stream. A home for

the swans, who were not too pleased with the salt water

situation last year as they were dumped in the harbour.

They seem a lot happier now!

 

 

 

Hmmm.. those swans look very much like ducks to me,

I think the swans are further upstream!

 

 

A small piece of land has been reserved for the sheep pen..

 

The only problem now is I can’t find the sheep!

 

Cheers!

 

 

 

Episode 5  -  November 1, 2021

 

With the “big” work mostly done a lot of the more intricate stuff

can commence, whilst some areas, such as the Ski resort are well

advanced others are still to be started. The ballast between the

rails is added and needs a steady hand!

 

 

The old town by the harbour has its paving installed! 

 

 

Trees are constantly being added all over the display, often

to cover gaps, wires and as Jim Peters commented on one

of his videos, the back of the houses where the power

plugs in. Surely the manufacturers could have

designed them to be a bit more discreet? 

 

 

 

Sue is now working on the harbour, this being one of her favourite

parts of the display. She has been complaining throughout that I

keep shrinking the harbour as the village space became more and

more cramped. The Westley pub sits proudly atop one of our new

pieces of slate. Our water is blue tissue paper with a covering

of blue glitter crystals. 

 

 

A bag of small white stones just about finished the job, along with

the lights on the harbour wall.  I’m sure the villagers will soon be

flocking to the harbour especially as I understand the fresh

fish stall is on its way! 

 

 

I mentioned earlier that we use a lot of polystyrene to get the

height in the early stages, whilst watching countless videos on

village construction the use of a hot wire foam cutter is seemingly

quite popular. I have looked at the reviews and to be honest they

seem a bit mixed. Many complaints that they break quite easily.

However I sent off for a fairly cheap three piece kit which arrived

a few days ago. Initial feedback from our official polystyrene

cutter is positive! Although a bit late for major use this year, it has

been a boon in cutting smaller bits and pieces without the mess. I

noted whilst watching one of Thea Heyink’s Creation Station videos

that she too is ordering one, it will be interesting to see how she

gets on with it. The villagers are arriving daily and homes have to

be found for them, now where are these sheep going to go! ……

 

 

Cheers! 

 

 

 

Episode 4  -  October 27, 2021

 

Having laid out our houses and rides in the approximate locations we

now have a much better idea of how it’s going to look when finished. 

 

 

 

 

I mentioned that we had to decide on a few pieces to leave out, I said to

Sue that I’ve never really liked the Cathedral too much, the scale doesn’t

do justice to such a grand building and I found the lighting a bit

disappointing too. The kiddies Christmas Carousel also got a negative vote,

for the opposite reason, it seems too big and garish. I was pleased to learn

that Sue had a similar opinion and so it wasn’t a problem at all! 

We also agreed that the Christmas Boutique and Cadieux Bakery were surplus

to requirements. The Boutique we felt was too square and two other bakeries

meant the battle for the villagers bread money was too competitive!

 

 

 

 

We decided that we would offer these four for sale as a job lot. We are

“displayers” and not “collectors” so we were not aware if our asking price

was too high or too low. We decided £145 (approx $200) to be a fair price.

Within five minutes of putting on a local selling site, we agreed to sell for

£125 after turning down two offers of £100. We were happy with that and

they were collected the next day. The forest area is one of Sue’s

favourites and she has progressed well with her landscaping…

 

 

and the Ski resort above too…..

 

 

One or two buildings were swapped around as we finalised our plans,

and another couple of items were picked out to be sold, The ice skating

rink was just too large in a village struggling for space, we had looked at

ordering a smaller version. Also the Cotton Candy cart was a bit over

scale for our fairground. I fear that we sold this too cheaply but I couldn’t

find one for sale anywhere as a reference point. Again within minutes a

sale was agreed, and in hindsight I think i went too cheaply! £15 ($20) for

the cart and £35 ($48) for the rink. It goes to show how well Lemax holds

its price for resale, looking on E-Bay rarely are real bargains to be found.

I'm sure many of you have experienced this wonderful event….even though

we know exactly what’s in the box that’s just been delivered, the thrill of

opening it up and pulling out some new items for our village never wanes! 

 

 

Cheers! 

 

 

 

Episode #3  -  October 24, 2021

 

We are at the early stages still so without a rigid plan things are likely

to change, and the sooner these decisions are made the easier it is to

implement them.  After a fair amount of work has been done then you

get to the point of no return! Our plan was to gain display space by having

an upper level to give space underneath. This seems to have worked ok

with our ski resort above and Santas workshop in the forest below. 

 

 

However neither of us is happy with the upper section on the right

side, and we have to get this sorted before we go much further. 

 

 

We are removing the two table structures and reverting to polystyrene

sections, it means we lose a bit of display space but we are both happier

with this now and building work can commence apace once again.

 

 

 If we get a chance we like to visit the various garden centres that we

know stock Lemax products and build their own displays. Lots of ideas

are inspired by what others do and as good as watching endless You Tube

videos is you can’t beat seeing it in person and spending time to take it all

in. At one particular display (Frosts in Woburn Sands for any local folk

reading this!) we were impressed with their use of natural stone, or slate

 in the display. A quick decision and we grabbed a barrow and went out to

the landscaping section. We bought several well chosen pieces which

we thought would complement our village. 

 

 

Our little car certainly felt the weight of these in the boot! 

Sue is our landscaping expert and quickly made use of the

slate and added her magical touch! 

 

 

 We now were “locked in” to the bigger structural decisions and started to

place out our houses and rides to get a better idea of what’s going where. 

We are now aware that all our pieces are not going to fit in! We have

always used all of our collection so this was an unexpected dilemma! 

Was this the right time to tell Sue about the couple of items I wasn’t

keen on? How would she react? We poured a drink, sat down, and

insisted each is honest about their choices to leave out… 

 

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Episode #2  -  October 16, 2021

 

Having got the base sorted, we are now thinking about what goes where.

This is a big conversation/discussion. It started weeks ago and continues

on a daily basis. We think back to last year and what we want to change.

The problem we now have is an ever growing collection and limited display

space. Our solution is more height, a kind of double decker approach. My DIY

abilities are limited so it’s not going to be an easy option. The simplest

way was a kind of table type construction. 

 

 

At this time the railway track is put down. I love trains, Sue not so much!

This is an ongoing battle as I explain how important the expansion of the

railways was to commerce and tourism and our village mustn’t miss out

on that opportunity! 

 

Reluctantly she agrees to a perimeter track layout as opposed to a

smaller central loop. ( I’m quite pleased with myself at this outcome and

decide not to mention yet plans for an extended tram (trolley line!)

 

On laying out the track it seems I am several pieces short to join the loop.

Onto the computer, two pieces of track seem very expensive!

(£3.49… not sure how that compares in dollars?)

 

Anyway a minimum order quantity to qualify for free postage gives me

a chance of redemption! I ask Sue if there is anything else she likes.

Well, when she saw “Sue’s Beads and Bangles” jewellery shop

I was forgiven! 

 

Another addition this year is the pre-formed mountain top. We bought

this a few years ago but have never used it. I’m not too keen as I prefer

the home made approach. We tend to use a lot of

polystyrene in our scenery builds. 

 

 

Hopefully it will grow on me! 

It gave us an excuse to place the first few buildings out. 

 

 

This is when the house gets a bit messy as all our village stuff is

hauled down from the attic to be sorted through!

 

 

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Welcome everyone to our Christmas village for 2021!

 

Well as you can see, there is no actual village as yet!

 

I am Phil Adkins and with my wife Sue, here in Northampton, England, each year we like to create our Christmas village, for our enjoyment and hopefully anyone who comes to see it.

 

We started many years ago with a miniature table top set, progressing slowly at first with an extra piece each year. As time went on, and especially in recent years the village has grown in size and now is a major undertaking!

 

I must stress that this is a joint project, we do it together, and consequently many discussions have to take place, compromise has to happen or we get nowhere!

 

Even before we get anything started, the village location has to be decided. We don’t live in a mansion with spare rooms but a modest “semi-detached “ town house. Any space given to the village will impact our daily living routine for the next three months!

 

A big part of the fun for us is the challenge of a new design and layout so we do not look to repeat last years effort. Two years ago we used the conservatory but last year, a few new pieces meant taking it into the dining room!

 

I must tell you, neither of us are DIY experts, I have limited tools and even less knowledge how to use them! Sometimes screwing a nail in straight is a challenge. Therefore this is in no way meant to be an instructional exercise! We make things up as we go, not sure if the expression “bodge it” is widely used around the world! 

 

Our first major challenge was to construct something to hold a

backdrop. Last year we used those sticky wall things that are

supposed to leave no marks on removal. We now have

a red wall with a chunk of paint missing!

 

We visited a local textile clearance shop and bought some

night sky looking fabric for £1 a metre.

 

Our base isn’t fancy wooden trestles but the

dining table and cupboard unit.

 

White painted boards are raised to allow wiring to

come through the pre drilled holes.

 

We have learned so much from the videos

other people have shared through TVC and YouTube. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another example of: