Sunday, 9 December 2018

9th December - Hut 402

We trekked to hut 402 tonight, following a beautiful crescent moon all the way to Hove Lagoon.  

There we found a symphony in blue courtesy of the Mother's Union of Chichester Diocese.  

There are branches of the Mother's Union all over East and West Sussex and the two main contributors to the hut tonight were the Saltdean and Hurstpierpoint chapters.

There is a deep association between the colour blue and Mary, the mother of Jesus, as she is almost always depicted wearing blue.  There are various explanations for this but the most practical is that blue was made from lapis lazuli which was more precious than gold due to it's rarity and therefore was a highly prized colour, and therefore fit for the mother of God.

Mary is also sometimes referred to as 'The Star of the Morning' because as the morning star announces the dawn, so Mary announces the birth of the Saviour.

At the threshold of the hut tonight was a Mother's Union kneeler set before a dish containing a small nativity scene and some homemade star biscuits emblazoned with the Mother's Union logo.

The next hut is in the middle of Hove seafront and is number 262

Saturday, 8 December 2018

8th December - Hut 39

Tonight we followed the stars to the East as we headed for hut 39 beside Hove Lawns.

What we found there were some of the largest stars so far in a variety of styles and decoration.

The weather was slightly kinder to us than the last few nights as we had no rain but the wind was pretty strong causing the stars to swing and twirl in a beautifully graceful way.

Added to this was a backdrop of silver streamers which rustled and rippled, adding an animated and acoustically interesting background to the whole scene.

Abigail put this hut together and is a first time participant and we had good crowds of friends and family, strangers and those familiar with the whole event.

Tomorrow we follow the star far along to the west as we're at hut 402 by Hove Lagoon.

Friday, 7 December 2018

7th December - Hut 191

Hut 191 was ablaze with stars and stables and decorations and lights tonight thanks to Deepdene school.

There were so many lights on the hut that the school had to hire a generator to power them all.

Most of the pupils of the school were involved in one way or another, and the range of creative crafts on show were really impressive.

Some had painted winter scenes on black card or written and decorated Christmas messages in a similar style.

Others had made  harlequin style dancers that cavorted across the ceiling of the hut and looked down on the rest of the decoration.  

Towards the floor of the hut was a series of Jesus triptychs just above some little matchbox nativity scenes, each created by a different child and each with their own little tea light candle.

The floor itself was a carpet of light with a hint of the houses of Bethlehem alongside Christmas style lanterns.

We were treated to carols by the school choir and some fabulous solo performers who managed really well in the cold, strong wind.

Tomorrow we head to Hove Lawns and hut 39.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

6th December - Hut 227

The weather took centre stage this evening, defying the forecasters who predicted that it would be mild and dry. What the team from St. Bartholomew's school got instead was continuous rain and a strong, blustery wind which made the whole event a bit of a challenge.

The children of year 6 at the school had learnt how to craft beautiful three dimensional stars and written their own proverbs on each star.

The stars were black, gold, silver or white and were in variety of sizes and styles.  The weather came into it's own as the wind caused the stars to dance and swirl around.  

The proverbs were sometimes just one word repeated on all the surfaces of the star or made up a phrase such as 'See the Beauty in Others'.

They not only filled the hut but also lined up along the apex, and forming and interesting contrast with the stripes of the doors and surrounded by Christmas lights which twinkled and shone in the rain.

Despite the weather we still had a good number of people drop by including some visitors who came direct to the hut from Hove station, having just traveled down from York.  We were also visited by a TV crew from Meridian and so should be on the TV sometime over the weekend.

Tomorrow we're at hut 191 with another school.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

5th December - Hut 177

One of the features of the Beach Hut Advent Calendar (which some think is a flaw!) is that it draws people out in all weathers at one of the most inclement times of year.  We thought the weather was going to be a little challenging tonight as it rained immediately before an after the event, but was dry from 5.30-6.30.  We were prepared for bad weather though and keen to maintain the unbroken record of openings since the beginning of this event in 2008.

This is an attitude close to the heart of the team that put together hut 177 tonight as they run The Outdoors Project.  

This is an organisation which runs after school clubs in 20 different schools across the city and as the name suggests, these take place outdoors and include games, woodcraft, craft and creativity.

The children were asked to create woodcraft stars to be part of the installation in the hut for tonight.  These were made from sticks and wrapped in coloured wool and came in all shapes and sizes.

The stars formed a galaxy inhabiting the ceiling of the hut, suspended above a strange creature who has been making a pilgrimage across Brighton over the past few months, eventually ending his snail trail here.

This is Fern the Nature Punk who has been part of the Snailspace art trail that has been running across the city in aid of The Martlets hospice.  

Fern is a junior snail sporting a crest of nerf missiles as nerf is one of the popular games run by The Outdoors Project.  We had hoped that we might see the snail trail created as Fern followed the star to the hut but unfortunately the rain washed it all away.

Tomorrow we're at hut 227.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

4th December - Hut 410

The venue for our hut tonight was a slight journey eastwards from the previously advertised hut 403 as hut 410 became available for the Kings School to use after we had gone to press with all our publicity.   It was only a difference of 15m and no-one seemed to notice the change.

Making a journey - even a short one like that, and especially travelling from the East to the West, is very much part of the Advent tradition.

This is a time when we begin to retell the story of the journey that Mary and Joseph made to Bethlehem; that the shepherds made in leaving their flocks to go into the village to see the newborn child and of course for the wise men travelling from the East as they follow the star.

We were reminded of that journey by a mirrored art piece which covered the floor of the hut, inscribed in gold with the words "We have seen his star and we have come to worship him".

Over the years people have spoken about the Beach Hut Advent Calendar as a pilgrimage as attendees travel the length of the seafront, away from the bustle and glaring lights of the shops, to find the hut opening for that night.

Ultimately we hope that the journey finds a destination in the hope of light in the darkness and the presence of God with us.

The next hut is number 177 close to the King Alfred leisure centre.

Monday, 3 December 2018

3rd December - Hut 194

Photo courtesy of

The hut this evening kicked off a series of huts which will be created by schools or school related groups.

Tonight hut 194 was put together by Windlesham prep school on Dyke road in Brighton.

Stars of various sizes and types were spattered around a black background, interspersed with twinkly lights.

These stars not only decorated the walls but hung from the roof of the hut, creating a  sense of a world full of stars.

Candles and a lantern graced the floor of the hut adding a sense of warmth and welcome.

Photo courtesy of

We were blessed with calm, clear weather for the first time this year which really helped the audibility of the school choir who sang a number of Christmas themed songs.  They will be on song again next week at St. Luke's Prestonville during their end of term service on the afternoon of Thursday 13th December.

The next hut will be created by The King's School and will start at number 403 but may take us on a journey to somewhere else.  Join us to find out!

Sunday, 2 December 2018

2nd December - Hut 305

The theme for the Advent Calendar this year is Follow the Star (something which the Church of England is also focussing on as a Christmas theme starting on Christmas Eve #followthestar).

Mary Bacchoo at hut 305 combined the star theme with a passion for ecology, linking these with the fact that there is more microplastic in the ocean than there are stars in the Milky Way.

Her installation featured a spiral trail which led to the hut containing a giant star.

Photo courtesy of
The spiral was made from ecobricks which are created by stuffing single use plastic bottles with up to 120 plastic shopping bags.  These can then be used to build houses in places where there is a shortage of housing.

Photo courtesy of

The spiral was also lit by solar lamps which have been especially designed for communities in the third world where there is no electricity.

Inside the hut was a nativity scene made from ecobricks and some information about the importance of a spiral in reminding us of the journey of life as a cycle of rebirth, seasons and time passing.

A spiral points us towards transformation and insight and in a similar way ecobricks transform our view of plastic as a resource to build with rather than waste to dispose of.  

As you see the stars at night may you be inspired by the possibility of the transformation that light brings into the darkness.

Photo courtesy of
The next hut is number 194 and features the first school this year.