Sunday, 17 December 2017
Hut 437 is the furthest West of all the huts in the Beach Hut Advent Calendar and has been the location for some beautiful contemporary dance as part of the calendar over the past few years.
The scene was set by an amazingly realistic painted backdrop of a train stop in a style reminiscent of the artist Edward Hopper. It made the hut look as though it was a window into another world.
This imaginary world was inhabited by three modern day wise people (not just men!) who were dressed for travelling in a 1950's style.
They carried small suitcases with them and one of the Magi removed a bright shining ball from one of these and it became the focus of a weaving, haunting dance about travelling and the journey that was undertaken by these sages to find the baby Jesus.
All of us are on a journey of one kind or another. We each travel from birth to death; we make journeys of understanding during our lives and many of us are on a spiritual journey. The Beach Hut Advent Calendar is a journey itself as visitors travel to see each hut each night.
The dancers tonight reminded us of the Magi who travelled from the East as well as inviting us to think about our own journey.
The next hut is number 362 in the middle of the Hove seafront.
Saturday, 16 December 2017
Tonight was all about dressing up. We had not one, but two huts open, one which was the main venue (hut 424) and another hut 10 metres away (422) that was the dressing room.
The artist for tonight had created a whole wardrobe of Magi costumes for a variety of sizes and shapes and anyone who came along was invited to dress up as a king and pose in hut424 for a photograph.
The experience was enhanced by Humphrey the camel who was mostly resident in the hut and very happy to pose for a selfie with anyone who came long.
Lots of people took part and were happy to put on a costume because they were so beautifully made.
Various tableaux appeared throughout the evening, each giving a unique perspective on the concept of incarnation - God becoming human being and living the same sort of life that we all live.
When we put ourselves into the eternal stories we are able to discover more about our own connection with the divine.
Being in the stable also helps us to empathise with those who have very little and may be giving birth in stable themselves this very night.
The next hut features contemporary dancers and is number 437.
Friday, 15 December 2017
The hut tonight was a little more challenging to find than normal as we discovered yesterday that the number we'd been advertising was wrong. Luckily most people seem to be using the guiding star to find the right location once we hoist it up every night and we were only 100m to the East of the advertised hut anyway.
The Advent pilgrims who made their way to hut 264 were presented with another take on the Knitivity idea first seen on 3rd December courtesy of the Brighton District Mother's Union.
This was quite different as the figures were bigger and the focus was on the stable scene rather than the host of heavenly angels as in the previous hut.
Also all these figures were made by the artist herself, Helen Rawlings of the Church of the Good Shepherd on Dyke road.
Each character in the scene had their own personality, including the angel that hung above everything.
The characters included the wise men and their camel, the shepherds and their sheep and the Holy Family themselves who stood by an empty manger as Jesus is not born until Christmas Day.
Tomorrow we're back to the hut numbers as advertised and will be at number 424 beside Hove Lagoon.
Thursday, 14 December 2017
This was fortunate as the hut was decorated with a pair of handmade feathered angel wings and lots of smaller paper sets of wings which all fluttered in the breeze making the hut look as though it was alive.
On the doors of the hut was a unique advent calendar with rolled up paper doors which also fluttered in the breeze. Behind each door was a word - these were angel blessings.
Faith, Hope, Love, Creativity were just some of the blessings bestowed on those who lifted up the numbered flap to reveal the blessing underneath.
The exception was the 24th date as this was blank so that we could make up our own advent blessing.
The next hut is very close to tonights as it is number 264. This is a change to the number printed on our flyers and previously advertised as 324. It's a blessing that this is just 100m along the seafront and we will signpost it tomorrow.
Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Hut 194 was packed tonight as Windlesham school created the art and brought a choir of nearly 30 children and many of their parents came along to see and hear the festivities.
The hut was filled with a hand coloured nativity scene that had been created by the children and ranged across the whole back of the hut.
Mary and Joseph took centre stage as you would expect and they were flanked by shepherds on one side and wise men on the other.
The doors of the hut were also decorated with images of a wide variety of characters involved in the nativity.
Above it all hung a rustic star surrounded by angels in a beautiful blue sky.
Throughout the whole evening the choir sang a variety of songs including some beautiful arrangements of some traditional carols, some contemporary Christmas anthems and popular Christmas songs.
This was quite an achievement as they'd been rehearsing all morning for their end of term service tomorrow, and once the beach hut finished they moved to The View to sing to the customers there.
Tuesday, 12 December 2017
We all know what a nativity scene looks like - Mary & Joseph with the baby in a manger, surrounded by farmyard animals such as sheep, cows and donkeys.
Except no animals are mentioned in the Bible narrative of Jesus' birth. It's assumed that they were there because he was born in a stable and because donkeys were the normal mode of travel and shepherds would most likely have brought sheep or lambs, but none of this is specified in the gospel stories in Luke or Matthew.
Despite that, the focus tonight was on sheep, and one little sheep in particular. Jesus told stories about sheep and shepherds, perhaps because of their visit to him as he lay in the manger?
Hut 11 tonight was based on the parable of the lost sheep in chapter 18 of the gospel of Matthew which reminds us that God always searches for us, no matter how far we go astray.
The nativity tonight also had an interactive element. Behind the faces of each of the characters of the tableau was a mirror so that as we gazed at the image, we found ourselves transported back to that stable and that scene.
We're now halfway through our Advent Calendar and this is the last hut at the Hove Lawns end of the beach. Out next hut is number 194.
Monday, 11 December 2017
The rain of this morning abated shortly after lunch and this evening was clear and cold but without any of the snow being experienced by most of the rest of the country.
Hut 332 contained a little stylised nativity with rather mournful looking sheep gathered around a manger of light.
The manger itself was empty but it gave us a hint of the baby who is to come on Christmas Day, described as the light of the world by the gospel writer John.
There were a number of different kinds of light scattered around the hut, protected from the wind inside lanterns and arranged around a driftwood mirror hanging on the back wall of the hut.
The evening also served as a fundraiser for Cure which provides surgery for children in resource poor countries.
To help with the fundraising and to add to the ambience of the evening the Dawn Chorus choir came along to sing a selection of carols and Christmas songs.
The next hut marks the halfway point in our journey towards Christmas and is number 11 at Hove Lawns.