Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 627

7 1 DECEMBER 2022 FI GLOVER Inmy opinion Are you often on the receiving end of: ‘Yes, I’ve been doing that for years’ syndrome? It’s when you think you’ve discovered something original, only to find that far from being a frontier person, you are in fact quite far back in the queue. It happens all the time. Whether it’s people who have watched all of Ted Lasso when I’mon episode two, or those who’ve beenmaking their own kimchi for years when I’ve just bought my first jar. Hey ho. Perhaps I don’t get out enough. I did think, on spotting an ad for ‘doggy yoga’, that I’d hit on a new thing I could tell the world about in an authentic frontier person voice – think part conspiratorial stage whisper, part know-it-all sneer. And just in case you’re struggling to understand doggy yoga, it does what it says on the tin. It’s a yoga class that has dogs in it too. The idea is that, because being near animals gives you a dopamine hit and reduces your stress levels, adding a pet to a decent yoga class will provide you with an unprecedented level of calm. But no sooner had I worked up tomy best downward facing dog joke, I found that loads of people knew about these gatherings. There was even a big piece in the papers. On further examination – I have literally been down a rabbit hole – it seems you can do puppy, bunny and kitten yoga too. How could all these things have bypassedme? I pass this knowledge on to you because, although it might be easy to dismiss these classes as a bit of a farce, this seems like a brilliant direction for the limber of body andmind to take. I get bored in yoga classes. I know I’mmeant to be clearingmymind. I know the point is to switch o the endless noise of the outside world. But after 30 years of trying, I might just have to accept that, although I love the stretch of it all, I’malways going to bemaking lists inmy head – I’ll always be thinking about something. The distraction of sweet animals bouncing around the room seems the perfect addition tome. Can anyone else see the flaw in the plan though? There is an inevitability about pet behaviour that involves mats and being shut in a space for anythingmore than 15minutes or so. I’m sorry to lower the tone here, but it involves widdles. And in the case of bunnies, quite a lot of droppings. No one seems to want tomention this. So here is my handy tip, as a long-time pet owner and someone who is desperate to add a nugget of newness to the debate – take your own mop. Namasté. Fi Glover and Jane Garvey’s new show is on Times Radio from3-5pm, Monday to Thursday. @fifiglover ‘I get bored in yoga classes. The distraction of sweet animals bouncing around the room seems the perfect addition tome’ The journalist and broadcaster has her say until, on Christmas Eve, they are happily situated in its nativity scene. Such feats of creativity don’t happen overnight – most Advent preparations begin in early autumn. In Saltaire, the participants even call on professional artists for advice. The town also takes part in ‘window exchanges’ with communities in Sweden and Orkney, trading artworks to put on display. Maureen notes that many families, schools and businesses have taken part in every event since Greenwich’s first year in 2007. Run by St Alfege Church in Greenwich, the vicar selects a theme each year. In 2012, it was Realms of Glory –marking HerMajesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, while in 2020, Near and Far reflected the pandemic’s poignant tone. Designs included Father Christmas on a Zoom call with his elves. This year’s theme is Tidings of Comfort and Joy. Many events raisemoney for good causes. “This year, we’re asking for donations for the Exmouth Food Bank and a charity supporting humanitarian aid inUkraine,” says Doreen. InHanover, collections go to the city’s Clock Tower Sanctuary, a charity working with young homeless people. Once displays are divided up, amap is then created to follow a route. Hanover’s map is a work of art in itself, with local illustrator Lisa Holdcroft making new designs each year. These are put through homes and distributed to shops and businesses. “Many families, includingmine, have a tradition of walking round all the windows,” saysMaureen. “It takes around three hours on foot, and we do it between Christmas and NewYear to walk o our dinner –meeting others doing the same. “Advent windows are one of the best Christmas traditions. They’re simple and free,” she adds. “You could walk around and see all 24, or just admire one as you’re rushing to a party. “It’s a wonderful way to spread cheer throughout your neighbourhood. The streets really do come alive with the Christmas spirit.” How to set up your own living Advent calendar Start small Decide on a street or residential zone and set boundaries to maintain control. Recruit volunteers Message your street WhatsApp group or area Facebook page and hand out yers to businesses well in advance. You need 24 homes, businesses, schools or other buildings to sign up. Name the date Give each of your 24 participants a designated date from 1 to 24 December, as the day to light up. Design a map Keep it simple – just a timeline of which sites will light up when. Print copies or post it on social media. Have fun! Mince pies, mulled wine and carols are a nice touch as each display is revealed. Upload photos to a dedicated social media account, so the community can see the displays. Illustration: Sally Caulwell/Folioart