Indigo-black, dark, chill-cold streets. Pavements which glint with iridescent oil-slick wetness in the yellow light of street lamps. Oblongs, diamonds, squares and triangles… kaleidoscopic layers of glowing patterned colour, thrown out into the dark night from the open doors and windows fronts of festive shops, luring you into warm inviting interiors.


I love the outdoor experience of late night shopping. I’m drawn by the bright, inviting lights of the shops, but like the moth, wither if I get too close. No, my thrill is from anticipation and a naïve, child-like excitement of astonishing things – enter the magic world and the illusion crumbles. It’s walking with ice-cold, rosy cheeked face, watery nose and tingling fingers shoved deep into pockets; and being part of the bundled, excited buzz of the pavements and walkways that enthrals me.


Hatherleigh’s Christmas Light ceremony and late night shopping extravaganza was held the other evening. The town hummed with happy faces. Excited children darted in and out of Father Christmas’s grotto and ran to dance around the enormous fir tree standing in the square. People dressed up warm and cosy, clapping mittened hands, chatting, sipping glasses of hot spiced wine and calling to familiar faces as they appeared out of the dark.

The silver band strikes up and the well-known refrain of well loved carols fills the night. The switch is thrown and the lights of the tree and town spring into life. As one, we breathe out a long, wondrous ‘Ahhh’.