More Christmas Tat

It’s Christmas Eve!  And here’s my personal Christmas present to you, loyal readers of the Virtual Hot Tub.  Yes, it’s more pictures of tacky Christmas decorations, this time from my home collection.  As time is now running out till the big day, I’ve combined several tat items into this one post, as a special seasonal treat just for you.

Father Christmas Ornament

No idea where this one came from – I think I rescued from somewhere I worked.  Quite a nice, detailed piece actually.  He’s pretty big.  Like a Christmassy garden gnome, but indoors. IMG_2711

Mini Light-up Santa Head

One pound from Poundstretcher in Mold.  He’s supposed to light up, but it doesn’t work.  Still pretty neat though. IMG_2714

Dancing Santa

This character once belonged to my Gran, if I remember correctly.  He’s been around for a long time, probably early 1980’s.  He looks a little evil – part dancing Santa, part mischievous elf.  Nice stick on beard. IMG_2719

Thanks to everyone for reading Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub.  Merry Christmas to you all!

Christmas Drink of the Week

Chocolate Smarties

Also known as “Chocolate Orange” or “Christmas Smarties”, for some reason this great drink has become linked to the festive season for me.  I can’t remember now how I was first introduced to this tipple (if it was you, and you’re reading this, please remind me); but I’m sure you’ll love it if you try it.

Basically, what we have here is an alcoholic drink that tastes like chocolate orange.  If for some reason that doesn’t entice you, give this a go anyway – you may be pleasantly surprised. IMG_2721

Chocolate Smarties

  • Tia Maria
  • Orange juice
  • Ice

Take a standard tumbler (the glass in the picture is a typical pub half pint glass).  Pour in two measures of Tia Maria.  Add a few ice cubes, then top up with fresh orange juice (the carton type or some good old Britvic).  Enjoy!

Play around with the measure to get a taste you prefer.  You may like a single measure of Tia Maria, you may want more or less orange juice.  Feel free to experiment till you get the desired flavour.

Soundtrack: “Merry Christmas Everybody” – Slade.

Questions #8: Christmas Films

What could be better than being snuggled up at home in front of the fire, beverage in hand, watching crap on TV?  It’s part of what Christmas is all about.  The television specials, the films, we’re subjected to both the classic and the drastic each year.

So I wanted to know what everyone’s favourite Christmas movie is.  The rules:

  • Your film of choice must have been on television (terrestrial or satellite)
  • It has to be Christmas set or themed.  You can’t pick, for example, Zulu, just because it’s on every year or because you like to watch it every Christmas.  Die Hard, on the other hand, would qualify, as it’s set at Christmas.

Q: What’s your favourite Christmas film?

Jess: Elf

Ash: Elf

Lynne: Elf

Tom: Home Alone

Matt: Home Alone

Mike R: Home Alone

Jayne: Elf

Mike W: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Alix: Home Alone 2

Stu: Arthur Christmas

Jade: Elf

Michelle: Home Alone

Jamie: Jingle All the Way

Terry: Home Alone

Sam: Lethal Weapon

David R: Jingle All the Way

Sue R: Miracle on 34th Street

Nathan: Miracle on 34th Street

Ben G: Muppets Christmas Carol

Sarah: Elf

Jack: Home Alone 2

Me: It’s a Wonderful Life

There you have it:Elf just wins (because I counted Home Alone 2 as a separate film, not additional votes for the first film).

I think Elf is a worthy winner, it just seems more “Christmassy” than Home Alone.  It’s got Elves and Santa in it, after all.

If you’d like to let me know your favourite Christmas film, leave a comment.  Disagree with the choices or rules above?  Likewise.

Questions #7: Christmas Songs

It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid.  Not that there’s any doubt that we’re in the festive season – there are decorations, lights, and yes, songs, everywhere.  Christmas songs are the cherry on the top, the star on the tree – and they’re inescapable right now, whether you’re shopping or just watching TV.

So what’s your favourite Christmas song?  I did some research and this is what I found.

There were some rules: basically, it had to be a song about Christmas; with a Christmassy theme or “sound”.  A Christmas number one therefore doesn’t necessarily count, much as I love Rage Against the Machine.  Traditional or pop, here are the results.

Q: What’s your favourite Christmas song?

Jess: “Merry Christmas Everyone” – Shakin’ Stevens

Ash: “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl

Lynne: “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl

Tom: “Merry Christmas Everyone” – Shakin’ Stevens

Matt: “Last Christmas” – Wham!

Dave W: “Stop the Cavalry” – Jona Lewie

Mike W: “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl

Imam: “Jingle Bells” (Traditional)

Jayne: “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl

Alix: “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” – The Darkness

Stu: “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” – The Darkness

Jade: “All I Want for Christmas is You” – Mariah Carey

Michelle: “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” – Wizzard

Jamie: “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” – Brenda Lee

Terry: “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl

Sam: “A Spaceman Came Travelling” – Chris De Burgh

David R: “The Night Santa Went Crazy” – “Weird Al” Yankovic

Sue R: “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – Band Aid

Nathan: “All I Want for Christmas is You” – Mariah Carey

Ben G: “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” – The Darkness

Sarah: “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl

Jack: “All I Want for Christmas is You” – Mariah Carey

Me: “Merry Christmas Everybody” – Slade

So there you have it: the popular choice for people’s favourite is The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl’s “Fairytale of New York”.  Great song.  Should’ve been a Christmas number one.

Only one vote for Slade???  Never mind, at least the vile monstrosity that is East 17 didn’t get a vote.

If you’d like to let me know your personal favourite Christmas song, leave a comment.  Disagree with these choices?  Are you an East 17 fan?  Let me know.

“It’s CHRIIIIIISSSSTMAAAASSSSS!!!”

Christmas Tat

Light-up Father Christmas

You can have a nice, colour co-ordinated Christmas tree with matching lights, baubles and tinsel.  You can can have tasteful decorations adorning your lovely home in minimalist style.  Or you can go bonkers and cover the place with tat!

Personally, I like a bit of tat at Christmas.  Probably no surprise there.  Here, for your visual amazement, is one of the coolest, yet cheap, Crimbo ornaments ever.  It was owned by my friend Nicky, and sat on her desk in work.  It’s a wax Father Christmas candle, which also has a light up feature inside.

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Light-up Father Christmas, centre. Desk top tree and Oogey-Boogey along for the ride.

Apparently this was really cheap (£1?), and came from a Christmas bargain shop in Wrexham.  I think it’s awesome.  I would love to own one, for two reasons.  Firstly, it’s quite a well crafted likeness and fairly detailed.  Secondly, it’s tacky as hell.  A candle that lights up from the inside as well?  Beyond pointless.

Light up Santa is a really nice bit of tat, though now he’s apparently been lost in an office move.  If you ever see one of these on your travels, readers, please buy a couple.  One for yourself, and one for me.  I promise I’ll pay you back.

More Christmas tat very soon…

Captain Blood (1935)

After a long while, I finally added this film to my DVD collection.  Originally released in 1935, Captain Blood is black and white, no CGI – switch off now if this isn’t your thing.  But you’ll be missing something special if you do.

This is the story of a doctor, Peter Blood, who through misfortune and circumstance finds himself a slave in the West Indies.  From here he escapes with his trusty comrades and commandeers a Spanish ship, his only option now a life of piracy.  We follow Captain Blood and his crew’s adventures on the seas. captainblood1

Warner Brothers took a gamble in casting the unknown Errol Flynn in the lead role.  The risk paid off – Flynn lights up the screen from the start.  A star is not so much born as presented fully formed for the audience to adore.  Olivia de Havilland, as Arabella Bishop, also found herself become an established name.  There is real on screen chemistry between the two (they’d go on to star in many other films together); both Flynn and de Havilland captivating throughout.

Director Michael Curtiz employs everything he has to create a spectacle on screen, though surprisingly most of the scenes were shot on sound stages.  Flynn’s sword fight with Basil Rathbone is energetic and deadly.  The final swing-across-the-cavern ship to ship battle is still exciting even now.

Curtiz takes his time telling the back story before we get to the piracy on the high seas.  On first viewing you may wonder when the film will actually get to the pirate part, yet the tale is told well with engaging characters and action.

Captain Blood is golden era Hollywood.  It has escapism, adventure and above all, fun.  Even without a single “Garrrrgh!”, it’s still full of pirate-y goodness.

8/10