Batten Down The Hatches

A quick middle of November letter to let you know that our Christmas department is open for business. We have three new cards this year: Three French Hens and Four Calling Birds, pictured above and below; and Christmas Seed Pods, to see which you’ll need to scroll right down to the bottom of this letter. We have a new Christmas patterned paper with gift card to match, and our limited edition crackers have arrived. I must say, we’re longing for a time when we can just mention some new things we’ve made without feeling the need to allude to grim global events (war, plague, civil unrest) which as so often in recent years, are in plentiful supply. We are being tossed on the horns of various storms, literally and metaphorically: comfort must be taken where it can. We are currently enjoying the fact that every second day the wind drops and the rain clouds vanish, and that outside our office window is a prodigious maple tree whose leaves have turned a most astonishing, almost unbelievable, incandescent red. Are the autumn colours especially good this year?

Merry Christmas Red and Blue was one of the very first cards we designed, and to our pleased astonishment it never seems to get old, and every year we are forced to reprint again. When we moved premises earlier in the year we discovered the prototype of a matching paper we had forgotten all about. It was too good to put back in the dusty file whence it came, so we printed a great batch, instantly sold it all, and are about to print it again. Sometimes you hit the nail on the head and this is one of those times. There’s a little gift card that matches, and the ribbon you see here is the vintage-style ribbon in the ‘Williamsburg’ colour way.

We make a couple of hundred boxes of crackers every year, and this year’s are just in. The colour scheme of the crackers this year is red and blue with occasional accents of pink. The very handsome and capacious box the crackers come in is covered in Pine Cone Red and Pink and has a rich crimson lining. It’s extremely useful and attractive for storing things once the crackers are a pleasant memory, and as they used to say on telly, ‘not available in any shops’.

The gifts in the crackers are, we think, genuinely desirable: Cambridge Imprint self-adhesive labels in various colours; skeins of the aforementioned vintage-style ribbon, this year in jewel-like shades of deep blue, turquoise and green; silvered glass baubles with antique sari ties; packets of gift cards with tiny envelopes; and printing blocks in a pair of new star designs created especially for this purpose. There is, of course, a gold paper hat. And not the least of the attractions, there is a Weird Words game, with one true definition and two false ones in each cracker. Can your dining companions tell the difference? Created exclusively for Cambridge Imprint by a bona fide Cambridge boffin who was, happily for us, looking for an excuse to procrastinate.

We’re happy to say that the delicious vintage-style ribbon mentioned twice above, is now in healthy supply as a product in its own right. Most years we have trouble staying in stock but we hope we’ve timed things better in 2023: a new shipment has just arrived.

The ribbon comes in a range of wonderful shades and the skeins are wrapped in fragments of artfully distressed old handbills and other documents, giving the impression that they fell off the back of a haberdasher’s cart in 1812 and have been lying somewhere undiscovered ever since. It is artifice, I’m afraid, but artifice of a very high quality. Useful for wrapping but actually a couple of skeins also makes a lovely present for anyone in your life who, like us, thinks they might have liked to be a milliner if hats were still a thing.

Finally, we have available some much sought-after invitations to the preview evening of the Christmas Market in the walled garden and glasshouses of Water Lane on the Kent/Sussex border at the beginning of December.

This is a new event for us and we’re looking forward to it very much. Water Lane is a wonderful productive walled kitchen garden, which feeds the famous onsite restaurant, and which is complete with outhouses, a vinery, and Victorian glasshouses. There will be a wide range of makers, designers, merchants, brocantes, and sellers of delicious foodstuffs. You will find us in the Pelargonium House. The dates are:

Saturday 2nd December and Sunday 3rd December 10—4 pm







Entry is free to those on foot or bicycle, and there is no need to book, but it will cost you £7.50 to park your car.

We have ten invitations to the preview evening on Friday 1st December, which will run from 6—9 pm. You’ll be served with complimentary mulled wine and Water Lane’s famous mince pies, and if still peckish there will be tartiflette to buy to keep the cold out. Think on that. I’d travel a long way for tartiflette. The setting is magical, and will be even more so by candle- and fairy-light. Do come if you’re in the vicinity. The first ten people to email us will receive an invitation.