Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas Eve

Our final beach hut of 2010 was an extravanganza of dressing up as we asked everyone to come dressed as a nativity character to help us try and best the world record for the largest nativity. The hut was dressed as the stable complete with empty manger (Jesus wasn't born until Christmas Day) and live chickens (the only camel in Sussex wasn't able to travel because he hasn't got a transport licence!). Loads of people came dressed up and took turns to sit in the hut and have their photo taken in a little nativity scene, you'll find a selection of those posted below.

The mayor of Brighton and his wife came down to act as official witnesses along with Roger French, chief executive of Brighton Buses. We also had the draw for the Choccywoccydoodah Madonna and child cake which went to a family who have been to every hut except one.

Unfortunately we didn't get enough people to break the record as we had around 150 in costume and the record is 250. We reckon there were at least 300 at the event overall but most chose to dress in warm modern clothes rather than attempting Biblical dress.

Our next event is on 30th January entitled Unconditional Love and you can get details of that on our website. Have a great Christmas and may the God of love be present with you and your families at this time.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Beach Hut 23

Tonight we had a guiding light to lead us onwards in our journey towards Christmas.

Carrie had created a beautiful coloured lantern which hung in front of hut 341 to draw people along the seafront to our penultimate hut. The lantern depicted different forms of travel in tissue paper mosaic making it look almost like a stained glass lamp hanging on the promenade.

It was a very cold and windy night but like true travellers we had brought everything we needed to keep the cold out. Not only mulled wine and mince pies but a wood burning brazier helped us to hold back the elements and enjoy the candlelit scene.

Inside the hut there was a silhouette of Bethlehem with a very cute little Joseph and donkey made out of wool.

This is our last regular hut as tomorrow we are trying something a little different. We hope to break the world record for a live nativity and so want as many people as possible to come to hut 395 dressed as their favourite nativity character. We hope to see hundreds of shepherds, wise men, angels and maybe even a few Mary and Josephs. The mayor is coming to help us keep count and we will also be making the draw for the winner of the Choccywoccydoodah cake. So come to hut 395 by Hove Lagoon to celebrate Christmas Eve in Beach Hut Advent style!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Beach Hut 22

The theme tonight was star and the hut was classically designed with a black backdrop and a very interesting cracked mirror star as the centre of attention.

The star came from St. Luke's church Prestonville where it can be seen during any of the Christmas services, hanging at the front of the church. It's made of lots of shards of mirror which reflect any light or image projected into them creating a varied effect which changes as you move around the star.

The display tonight was put together by Martin Poole who heads up the Beyond team as Alison who owned the hut has recently been in hospital and is still convalescing and unable to get out to prepare something herself.

The mirror effect of the star was given additional detail by the addition of half a dozen laserpods and a rotating star ball. As the lights glittered and flashed around the hut we were reminded of the words of John 1 - "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it".

Next is our penultimate hut - number 341.

Beach Hut 21

One of the comments people have made about the Beach Hut Advent Calendar is that for them it is a kind of Christmas pilgrimage. The walk along the seafront to find the hut each night in a different location alongside the journey through the month as we get closer to Christmas all form part of a path to Christmas.

Beach hut 21 put some of this thinking into practice and invited people to consider their own personal journey up to the present in the same way that Mary and Joseph had to travel on that first Christmas. There was an interesting juxtaposition tonight with the fact that so many people currently are unable to travel because of the weather situation but that didn't stop lots of people coming down to the beach from as far away as Bournemouth.

There was not only lots to look at but also lots to do at this hut. There were travel themed items in the hut and alongside it a huge map of the UK and the world and a chance to plot your journey from birth to today using pins and lengths of wool. In addition people could also write the name of a person who had been important to them in this journey on a star and add this to the overall display. By the end of the evening the map was a mass of wool and stars acting as a testament to the pilgrimage of our lives and those around us.

As we continue our pilgrimage towards Christmas we want to make everyone aware of a goal we have set for Christmas Eve. We want everyone who comes to hut 395 to dress as a nativity character as we're hoping to break the world record for the largest live nativity. So if you're close to Brighton and don't mind coming out in a dressing gown and tea towel, come and help us make history.

Next hut is not far away at number 357a.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Beach Hut 20

Tonight was the worst weather so far with constant rain and a cold wind which made putting everything together extremely difficult (and uncomfortable!).

This is the kind of weather that hardy shepherds would have been used to as they stayed out all year round looking after their flock. Tonight Janina had recruited just such a hardy soul to sit in hut number 324 as part of her theme, although he had the advantage of a modern umbrella as some protection against the elements.

The backdrop featured a glass beaded star and despite the wind and rain a few candles managed to flicker in the darkness, adding some warmth to the darkness in the hut.

Nights like this make you wish we were doing this calendar in Australia in the nice summer sun but at least it gives us some insight into the kinds of hardships that some of the characters of the first nativity could have endured.

Next hut is almost right in the middle of the Hove seafront at number 268.

Beach Hut 19

The hut this Sunday night looked as though it had been abandoned, and not just because lots of people were at carol services this evening. The theme was Nazareth and the hut was set up as though it was Joseph's home and he and Mary had left in some haste to get to Bethlehem for the census.

To make sure they would manage the journey OK our team imagined the holy family had a meal before they left and the remains of the bread, fish and wine were still on the table waiting to be cleared up on their return.

We knew this was Joseph's hut because the tools and materials of his trade were stacked outside. It's interesting to think about the ordinary daily life that Jesus was being born into on that first Christmas and the effort that Mary and Joseph must have gone to in travelling from their home to Bethlehem so close to the birth of their son.

Next up is hut 324.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Beach Hut 18

Tonight we had our first ever memorial hut as part of the Beach Hut Advent calendar. Lisa bought hut 424 after her friend Laura Beckerson died and wanted to create something in memory of her for her involvement this year. She asked Beyond team member Kirsty Tyler to do something on an angel theme and tonight's hut was the result.

Kirsty produced an absolutely beautiful pair of angel wings which looked as if they were made of steel feathers but in fact were created from mirrored paper which we had experimented with during the summer for our Greenbelt service. Every feather was cut and shaped individually and carefully crafted into an overall wing shape. The wings were then hung in a simple blacked out hut with a few lights to accentuate the detail that had gone into their making.

There was quite a strong, cold wind tonight and this rustled the feathers on the wings and caused them to move and sway so that the light glittered and sparkled across them.

If angels have wings half as fabulous as these then it's no wonder that the shepherds were amazed when they saw them on that first Christmas night.

One of the things we didn't realise until people started to do it was that these were perfectly placed for posing as an angel and at the end there was a queue of people waiting to have their photo taken as the angel of the beach.

Next up is more art from the Beyond team in hut number 381.

Beach Hut 17

The wise men visited Brighton tonight, following the star which hung low over the Pavilion in a beautiful tableau created by Sue and John Murgatroyd. This was the first time hut 27 had been been involved and it was clear to everyone how much work had gone into creating the scene.

Brighton Pavilion was rendered in all it's glory as a large black and white backdrop sitting underneath a giant embroidered gold star set in a clear blue sky.

The wise men were very individual with the leader pointing the way ahead to those who followed behind.

To add to the star theme Sue had made little fairy cakes with a gold star on each one and for the first time these proved so popular that we had some chocolate left at the end of the night.

The layer of snow (and a very dramatic snowstorm at the beginning of the event) added to the magic of the night although it was so cold that the juice that we normally serve to the children froze in the bottle over the course of the hour we were outside!

This hut was the furthest East that the Beach Hut Advent Calendar has ever been and the next hut is at the very opposite extreme as it is almost the furthest West we could go being number 424 by Hove Lagoon.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Beach Hut 16

The heavenly choir came out in full force on Thursday night accompanied by a host of angels in a heavenly light. The people of All Saints Hove put together a fantastic hut with angels from the Christmas tree in church alongside loads of tealights in glass jars and interesting 'candle bags' that lined the way into the hut.

The centrepiece was a beautiful arrangement of angels against a glowing backlit backdrop. The choir from the church came down and entertained us with some carols until the rain started to come down in earnest along with a bitter wind and it was felt that the children should go somewhere warmer.

There were lots of little details to this evenings hut including a pile of pebbles each stamped with a little angel mark to remind people of the message of the angels on Christmas night.

Next hut is our closest one to the centre of Brighton and is number 27.