December’s theme was of course ‘Merry Christmas!’ and the month was crammed full of different events at Hill House all with a Christmas theme. Everything from bell ringers, to choirs from local schools performing, visits by local ‘Beaver’ groups, as well as our big Christmas concert by the Carillon Singers and a magical musical performance by Professor Andrew Knight to name just a few of the events enjoyed by our residents during the festive season.

On Friday 1st December a group of residents went to Fleet town centre for tea and coffee at the Emporium. There they met with residents from our two other homes and were soon enjoying a chat over tea, coffee, cake and crisps, as well as an alcoholic drink for anyone that fancied it! The group returned bright and happy from their outing, in good time for their Friday lunch.

On the evening of Tuesday 5th December Hill House welcomed the young members of the Crondall Beavers group. The little boys and girls delighted the assembled residents with their Christmas singing before meeting our residents and sharing some of their favourite toys with them. The children were soon chatting away happily to our residents and they also presented them with some beautiful hand-made Christmas cards. After this, our residents watched some of the young beavers ‘Swam up the River’ i.e. moved up to the Cubs in an amusing ceremony involving the children crawling under a large sheet (the ‘water’) waving above their heads! The evening concluded with some of the beavers receiving individual badges for accomplishments and the presentation of the ‘Best Beaver’ that particular week, a seven-year-old girl called Aimee who had earlier played the piano so competently.

On Wednesday 6th December, we visited the Elvetham Church for the annual Lions Club Christmas concert. The residents enjoyed a truly festive performance which included the ‘Grey House School’ Choir, Elvetham Community Choir ‘Champagne at the Blitz’ and ‘The Church on the Heath’ Gospel Choir. The group enjoyed mince pies, tea and coffee during the interval and eventually got back at 10.30 pm following a quick tour of the local Christmas lights!

Then on Thursday 7th December Hill House welcomed 20 plus students from St. Neot’s School Chamber choir. The girls performed some wonderful carols as well as ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer’ complete with each chorister wearing antlers as they sang. The extremely professional choir were so much appreciated by the residents that an encore was even requested which they duly did!

During the afternoon of the same day, a group of children from the Fleet Beavers visited the home for a short carol performance. Once again, the residents were delighted by the sweet singing of the children so much that an encore was requested and the little Beavers sang again to everybody’s delight.

On the bright but frosty morning of Friday 8th December a group of residents and relatives went to Redfields Garden Centre in Church Crookham. They strolled between sparkling and colourful displays of Christmas decorations, trees, lights and gifts. They loved seeing the animated Father Christmas and the three jolly singing reindeer puppets before being seated in the restaurant for fresh coffee, tea, mini mince pies and cookies.

On Saturday afternoon on 9th December, residents enjoyed some seasonal baking. A lovely Christmassy smell pervaded the ‘Garden View’ wing of the home after a group of residents had rolled out and cut out no less than 24 mince pies. Once baked the pies still warm were offered to residents throughout the home who declared they were delicious!

The following day, Sunday 10th December, residents enjoyed music by the Crondall bell ringers. Residents sang along to the seasonal carols being played by the group and the bells sounded lovely! Afterwards we all enjoyed tea and mince pies.

A group of residents also went to Robert May’s School annual Christmas Tea Dance on Thursday 14th December. They were greeted by the students with a warming glass of sherry, tea and coffee, lovely sandwiches and some delicious homemade cakes all served by the students with teachers on hand. It didn’t go without a surprise visit from none other than Father Christmas himself as we were enjoying our afternoon tea. Some of the residents took to the floor and danced with the students and afterwards, one resident was lucky enough to win a very big box of chocolates in the raffle! The afternoon went all too quickly, but on the way back at 5.00pm the residents had one final treat and enjoyed seeing the Odiham High Street Christmas tree and lights as they travelled back.

On Friday 15th December residents enjoyed ‘A Taste of Christmas’ food themed afternoon. The proceedings started with warm, sweet and spicy mulled wine followed by traditional satsuma orange segments, then residents sampled marzipan fruits. Some who had never tried marzipan before thought it was delicious! Whilst sampling the festive fare, residents learnt how specific food became traditional at Christmas, its history and origins. After marzipan they sampled chocolate yule log, Christmas cake and mince pies with brandy butter, after which the tea trolley was welcomed for much needed refreshment after all the sweet foods!

In the evening of Friday 15th December Hill House welcomed the wonderful Carillon Singers for the annual Christmas performance in the main lounge. Some 26 choir members all wearing royal blue satin scarfs or ties performed a delightful selection of more traditional as well as modern Christmas songs, beautifully accompanied by their very own pianist Margaret. Between songs residents enjoyed a selection of community carols which meant everyone had a chance to sing some of their favourite carols. All those that attended agreed the event was a wonderful festive occasion!

On the afternoon of Monday 18th December Hill House welcomed staff and pupils (and some of their parents in the audience) from St. Nicholas School, Church Crookham for an afternoon of Christmas songs and music. Standing in front of our magnificent Christmas tree in the main lounge the pupils played their violins and sweetly sang a selection of popular Christmas tunes including ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!’ The residents needed no encouragement to join in and sing along, and thoroughly enjoyed the children’s performance.

On Tuesday 19th December it was the annual Christmas lunch at Hill House. The dining tables both in the Main Lounge area and Garden View were beautifully laid with crackers, festive table decorations, green tablecloths and red placemats and everyone was seated and ready by 12.00. The kitchen prepared a wonderful Christmas spread of traditional turkey with ‘pigs in blankets’, stuffing and a delicious selection of roast potatoes, parsnips and other fresh vegetables. This was followed by Christmas pudding with rum sauce and custard, or chocolate gateaux. Residents also enjoyed red or white wine with their meal as they chose. Staff waited upon them in their festive Christmas jumpers, crackers were soon being pulled, jokes told, and lots of happy conversation ensued as the residents enjoyed their Christmas food. As lunch came to an end, residents were delighted by a surprise visit from Father Christmas who visited every single resident and gave everyone a present. At 2.30 pm staff gathered round the piano and sang carols for the residents accompanied by the lovely Louis. Residents relaxed and were soon joining in with favourites such as ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing!’ and ‘Silent Night.’

On the evening of Wednesday December 20th, a small group of residents set off in the minibus for a Christmas lights tour in the surrounding area. They loved seeing the many colourful and sparkly illuminations on the nearby residential roads and housing estates, and the early evening trip concluded with a hearty Christmas sing-along on the minibus during the way home!

On the morning of Friday 22nd December, a small group of residents enjoyed a seasonal trip to the Wyvern Public House in Church Crookham. They met with residents from our two other homes to enjoy a Christmas drink, to have a chat and laughing and enjoying reminiscing about Christmases gone by.

In the afternoon on the same day, Hill House residents enjoyed Professor Andrew Knight’s Musical Experience. Professor Andrew, his wife Jenny and daughter Suzannah put on a wonderful musical performance, incorporating many favourite Christmas carols and well-known festive songs. As well as this Professor Andrew played the flute and his wife Jenny played the violin, whilst also encouraging residents to take up percussion instruments and join in. Jenny’s violin solo was amazing, and received rapturous applause and residents sang with gusto remembering the Christmas tunes they love. It was an appropriate finale to the preceding Christmas weeks events and a very special occasion indeed!

On the wet, cold and windy morning of Friday 29th December a small group of residents went to Fleet town centre for coffee at the Emporium.

On the afternoon of the same day, Hill House celebrated the New Year early with an upbeat musical party. Gareth performed for residents from across all three homes, singing a lovely selection of contemporary songs by artists such as Neil Diamond and Frank Sinatra and amusing the residents with his gentle humour between songs. Soon everyone was joining in singing, clapping and in a lot of cases, up on the floor dancing along to the tunes. The afternoon concluded with tea and delicious homemade cakes. Everyone that attended enjoyed the performance and declared it a very positive and most enjoyable way to prepare for the coming New Year 2018!!