The Christmas Cottage

janharveyarticleThe phone call came out of the blue. Would I mind having my home featured in a glossy magazine as ‘The Perfect Christmas Cottage’? My answer was an immediate “yes please.” I love Christmas and what a great way to have your house photographed.

The team, journalist and photographer, were coming on 3 December so I busied myself buying colour co-ordinated decorations and luxurious, high-end crackers. The lavish festive table was set with a three-decked centrepiece bejewelled with golden fruit and an abundance of flora and fauna laced through with twinkling lights. I even painstakingly wrapped tiny gifts in pretty patterned cellophane to put into each wine glass and hand-made the individual place settings.

I was all ready to go when they arrived and the team were very impressed as they scouted the whole house. We’d deep-cleaned everywhere, candles were burning amid swags of freshly picked holly and ivy, fairy lights sparkled everywhere and prettily colour co-ordinated presents were placed under a tree that groaned with carefully selected decorations. “It is perfect,” they told me.

“So do you want to bring your equipment in now?” I asked. (I had fresh coffee brewing and a light buffet lunch laid on.) Oh no, they said, this was just ‘a reconnaissance trip’ they’d be in touch if they wanted to proceed with the shoot…

Well, to say my family had a brilliant Christmas was an understatement, the best of the best. It was like being inside a Waitrose advert and when it was over, on ‘twelfth night’, I cleared up, and began to pack everything away. I was just about to take the first bauble off the tree when the phone rang.

“Oh hi Jan, it’s us, can we come tomorrow and photograph your cottage?”

As I looked around my lounge at the post-Christmas carnage – wilted holly and ivy, stubby candles and scraps of wrapping paper under a forlorn tree, my heart sank. Suffice to say, a very harassed and stressful morning followed as I dashed off early to Chipping Norton in search of gold candles, any form of crackers I could lay my hands on, vaguely festive cellophane and what Christmas paper was left in the sale. I also came home with an assortment of cardboard boxes to make up as fake presents.

It wasn’t the ‘shoot’ I’d planned, but it resulted in six pages of fabulous photos of our house in a glossy magazine that stayed on our coffee table for years – always carefully placed on the top. I have to say that whilst looking through those pages from time to time has always been a joy, the memory of it can be unseasonably painful.

Jan Harvey

December 2018 – January 2019