Well it's not Somerset House or Kew Gardens, but getting an ice rink in to a teeny space like the formerly unheard-of Petanque Court was never going to be easy. We were actually impressed that they'd managed it at all, although the 'ice' word was a mild contravention of the trades descriptions act perhaps... the penguin seemed quite at home though
And as for the Polar Village, well it wasn't as bad as it could have been. That's not meant to sound quite so grudging, we thought it was a reasonable attempt given the whole range of conflicts - not much space, not much money, not wanting to compete with existing traders, unreliable weather causing a deferred start and so on.
As afternoons in town go, it provided quite enough seasonal cheer - a walk through the Polar Village, an "ooh" and an "aah" at the three reindeer, an "eh?" at the man in the polar bear costume and a "hmm" at the ice rink, so vocal chords were nicely loosened up when we got to Albion House whence the Christmas Bazaar had taken shelter after the bandstand and surroundings became just too arctic.
And then the Salvation Army band turned up in Albion Gardens, lanterns were lit (one catching fire quite impressively a few minutes later!) and a sweet little carol service was had by all. And it looked like the Mayor knew most of the words - he certainly sang with appropriate enthusiasm, despite the bitter cold and modest, but appreciative crowd.
After this afternoon, the Christmas season is definitely under way.