Christmas Eve in Venice

Saturday 1492 – 24th Dec 2011 – Christmas Eve.

Here I am in Venice again visiting my daughter for Christmas. She goes home on the 28th Dec so this will be my last time. The immediate family is here – me, my daughter, her partner and my son.

The 3 of them took themselves off to Padua this morning to visit the Scrovegni chapel with its Giotto Frescos.  I decided not to go as I wanted to visit Cimitero -St Michele – the Cemetery Island just off the main Islands of Venice.  This is my 6th visit to Venice and I have never been…always intended to go but never quite made it and it has a curious fascination. The island is studded with Dark Cypress trees and the whole is surrounded by a high Terracotta wall and there are some famous foreigners buried there like Ezra pound and Sergei Diaghilev.

As well as individual and family graves there are many remembrance walls like the one below with name plaques and often photos; some are well looked after, others less so. The upper ones are reached by wheeled ladders reminiscent of those in old libraries.

This seemed like a good day to go as Christmas isn’t just about being with family or friends it’s also a time for remembering those family and friends who are no longer with us.  I am not at all religious and don’t believe in God but if I’m in a religious building I still find myself lighting a candle and thinking about those who are gone. This Christmas eve was no exception. In the little church on St Michele I lit candles and in particular thought of my late father Bert who died when I was 17, my brother Geoff who died aged 53,  my ex husband Sydney at 59, his father Jim in his 90’s and  my friend’s daughter Laura who died way too young in her early teens. 

I took a photo of the candles and here they are in remembrance of all those who are no longer here.


Later in the day my daughter, her partner and I decided we’d go to midnight Mass at Basilica San Marco in St Mark’s square ( well really my daughter decided ! ) – I had reservations because as I mentioned I’m not at all religious (neither are they) but this was sold to me as a once in a lifetime opportunity.  We arrived a little after 11 pm and my daughter had said it would all be over at 12… not so !

We tucked ourselves into a corner sitting on a stone seat against the outer wall . My daughter and her partner decided they’d like to go and stand nearer the middle so they could see more. I was happy to stay where I was and took a few photos before the service started, like the Ascension Dome pictured below with its 13th Century mosaics.

Shortly after they went a very old man came over to my corner and I offered him my seat as no-one else looked as though they were going to;  after all I’d only be standing until 12 !! Ha! Ha!

The service started and went on and on (and on !)  in Italian, of course, so I didn’t have a clue what was being said and could see very little of what was happening ( the choir and incense were good though!) At 12.40 a.m I decided I’d had enough ( I’m not great at standing as I have a bad ankle and I was frozen) and sent a text to my daughter’s partner to say I was going to catch a Vaporetto (water bus) back to the apartment. When I got to the Vaporetto stand I discovered there were going to be no boats! so text to say I was on my way back to the Basilica to wait for my daughter and her partner to come out.

 No reply!  I was tempted just to walk back but didn’t think it would be a great idea to walk halfway across Venice on my own at 1 a.m carrying some very expensive camera equipment.

They eventually emerged at 1.20 a.m, all delighted that they hadn’t been standing at all but had  been ushered to seats close to the altar and the centre of the action ! I was spitting feathers by this time  and confess I wasn’t the best of company on the 1/2hr or so walk home ! !  Ho Hum !

There’s no moral to this story – it’s just a fact of life that not everything goes according to plan ( in fact most things don’t! )

I’ll leave you with a photo of a large house on the Grand Canal all lit up for Christmas with a rather pretty moving snowflake scene.


Seasons Greetings to you all from the Saturday Girl.  ‘Til next week .. Ciao, Ciao.

P.s – You can see my other posts about Venice here Departures and Arrivals and here Acqua Alta ,Umbrellas and Wellies 

A Superdoopernumerarynotsaturdaypost

    A Little extra…..
Happy Christmas Everyone
Last week I mentioned that I don’t buy a lot of Christmas Cards because I’d rather give money to charity.   I send emails instead explaining what I have done. It makes me think about how lucky I am and I hope it has that affect on the recipients too.  It doesn’t mean I love the recipients any less than if I sent them a card.
I thought I’d share it with all of you and maybe if you have a few pounds/dollars/euro or whatever currency to spare you might like to follow suit.  What I sent looked something like this :-

As some of you know I choose not to buy many Christmas cards for environmental reasons. Each year I use the money I would have spent and donate or buy Gifts from a charity  and I hope you will accept this note in place of a card.

 This year the charity I have chosen is Tree Aid. Here’s what they do –

 “Two for One” – the TREE AID Philosophy

At TREE AID, we believe that tackling poverty and environmental protection are inseparable.We help villagers in the drylands of Africa unlock the potential of trees to break this cycle of environmental decline and poverty. We help create self-reliance for poor communities building not only their chances of survival but also their dignity and respect.

At the same time, we help poor people invest in their environment, building its richness and health not just for today but for generations to come.

It’s what we call a “two for one” solution that breaks the cycle of poverty and environmental decline and offers a sustainable way forward for people across the Sahel.

 If any of you are interested  in finding out more here’s the website

Below is the receipt for the trees (and care of them) that I have bought.

Thank you for purchasing with Tree Aid.
You ordered these items

Grow a Baobab tree £10.00

The Baobab is an iconic tree in Africa. It grows to an immense size and is culturally very important.

The leaves make a vitamin rich sauce, and the seeds make protein rich flour,

adding valuable nutrients to diets.


1 Grow a Shea tree £10.00-

Shea butter, West Africa’s ‘gold’, is made by roasting and

pounding the nuts of the Shea tree into a paste.

It is used for cooking, lighting, waterproofing walls,

and as a  quality moisturiser in cosmetics and soap.


1 Grow a Mango tree £10.00

The Mango tree provides one of Africa’s

best known and most delicious fruits.

Mangoes are packed with vitamins,

and can be dried  to provide a vital

out-of-season food source and product

for sale at market.

Total: £30.00

I have also made a commitment to donate just £3 every month to Tree Aid – less than the price of a bottle of Kopperberg !!

Wishing you all  love and peace in this festive season.

Helen x

This has cost me very little but gives me immense joy because it may well make a huge difference to others..
Saturday girl signing off…. see you soon
Ps – Tree photos and other details from the Tree Aid Website
Pps My 2 new camera lenses arrived earlier today along with a fantastic Lowepro slingshot 202 camera bag.So excited and looking forward to having time at the weekend to experiment  😀