Regular readers will already know of Geoff’s obsession with gardening and opening his garden to the public. Visitors often ask what he gets up to in the winter, when it’s not so enjoyable out there in the freezing cold! Well! His other obsession is collecting Christmas decorations and filling the house to resemble a Santa Claus grotto!
A Christmas obsession
This year a national newspaper got to hear of Geoff’s Christmas extravaganza and wanted to shoot all of the 20 or more decorated Christmas trees in his house for a feature in a national newspaper.
“I think they thought I lived in a mansion,” says Geoff, “but it’s only a 2-bedroom chalet bungalow. When the journalist and the photographer arrived and saw the house they were blown away. They took hundreds of pictures including many of me. Within hours, they had sent them along with the words to the picture editors in London, who were immediately taken with what they saw. They were very interested. One caveat however, they would like all the trees relocated into one tableau in the lounge bay window!”
It was a tall order and one that Geoff was not keen to do. “Initially I said there was no chance, it took me so long to decorate the floor to ceiling trees that I was not prepared to strip, move and redress them. But by this point they were clearly keen to have the story, so they offered me a three figure sum to move the trees for a 2nd shoot.” Geoff agreed and spent the next 36 hours building the scene. “The hardest to move was the tree in the hall with my collection of vintage glass decorations dating back to my childhood and some as far back as the 1930’s. I stripped it and had to carefully drag it through to the lounge. It was a long job to build the tableau, which ended up with 24 trees ranging from just 4 inches tall to over 6 feet tall.”
Radio and television
On returning to see the finished display, the photographer was completely blown away. Several hundred shots later he was away to process the images. As yet it has not appeared but meanwhile BBC Radio Sussex had got wind of the trees and rang to ask Geoff to be on the Breakfast Show to talk about his obsession with Christmas trees, which he duly did. No sooner had he completed this, than BBC SE Today contacted him and asked if they could come and film the decorations. “A local reporter, Juliette Parkin, came with a cameraman to film all the decorations on Friday 15 December and a 5 minute piece was broadcast on BBC SE Today local news bulletins the very same day. Even my mother, Barbara, and our dog Albert got involved with the filming too.”
The result was 2 separate clips being posted both on the BBC SE Today website but also on the main BBC News site. Geoff was overwhelmed to see that over the weekend, the clip reached the 6th most watched piece nationwide.” It was utterly amazing,” he admits. “Fingers crossed it will still appear in the paper but not bad coverage to date!”
Have you got a Christmas tree story to share? Do let us know.
You can see all Geoff’s Christmas related activities at www.geoffstonebanks.co.uk/xmas.html including the coverage on BBC1.