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Just got back from a lovely couple of hours at Uppingham’s late night Christmas shopping event.  Coolish and a bit blustery, but nothing to what the weather was doing at about 4pm so we were all lucky.  Small children were everywhere, especially around the market square that had been turned into a mini fun-fair for them.

Bumped into friends who are in The Princess and the Pea – this is Uppingham Theatre Company’s pantomime and it sounds fantastic – a great mix of Bollywood and Rutland in-jokes.  Quite how these lovely people, all of whom have real lives and demanding jobs, manage to create this as well, I don’t know. (The P&P runs for four performances, from Friday 30 December to Sunday 1 January(two performances on New Year’s Day: are they mad?).  Tickets are £10 for adults, with family tickets at £25 for four.

Headed for the far end of the High Street to the craft fair in the Town Hall.  Always good, and this year was particularly taken by Rutland Willows stall, with their beautifully-crafted garden art and accessories.  They were also promoting their One Day Willow Courses for 2012, which look really interesting.  They’re based in Ashwell, and if they had a website, I’d link to it!   Contact them on 01572 720 741.

Also had a lovely chat to Bruce Ford of the local Treasure Trails company – they devise self-guided walks in Rutland and Leicestershire that are perfect for family and other outings.  You follow a series of clues in the Treasure Trails pack, writing down what you hope are the answers (usually something you find, like a date on a memorial, or a word from a sign, or a name of a historic person you ‘encounter’ along the trail) and at the same time as you enjoy a great walk in the countryside (or town) you learn stuff and have a laugh.  I bought a Murder Mystery Themed Treasure Trail for Rutland Water North Shore, because I don’t know the ‘top side’ of the water as well as I do the south…

I also bought a beautiful scarf at the craft fair (one Christmas present to cross off my list) and a glass vintage-style christmas ornament for the tree.  Then it was out into the cold again, and time for food.  There were several stalls selling local meat, from burgers and hot dogs to a hog roast.  And it was New Lodge Farm’s whole hog that seduced me in the end: a gorgeous bap-full of hot, tender pork, crackling and stuffing.  There was even apple sauce, though I passed on that.  Gorgeous.  And based in Bulwick.

The band was playing Christmas carols, the Leicester Tigers were talking to fans and Uppingham’s congregational church was holding a party so kids could dress up as shepherds or kings and join in the nativity scene.  They were really having a good time.  I wandered back to the car via Gilbert’s interiors shop, where a heck of a party was in full swing, complete with folk band and bubbly.  Then next door to Mark Gilbert’s antique shop to check out the latest stock.  Good to see a fair number of Uppingham’s ‘normal’ shops open late tonight, with a couple of surprising omissions, such as Uppingham Antiques on the High Street:  I like to buy myself an early Christmas present there, and was thwarted this year…   And so back home,  to thaw out and pour a glass of wine.


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