Saturday, November 12, 2005


Like the first Cuckoo in spring, the first fresh bling! of 2005 was spotted in the village below my house this evening. It was a mediocre effort, clearly a number of visits to B&Q had provided the materials, and with little attempt to customise or make this his own special display, there was a bit of a jumble going on and a lack of planning seemed evident.

Yes, HouseBling! is back for 2005 and this year I'm going to be a whole lot more critical about public blingstallations. I'm looking for a number of things this year...

Artistic intent
This is a score based on how the creator has tried to fill his space using creative means.

You lose points for choo choo trains going up your wall, but gain them back for having Elvis in a Santa suit.

Total coverage of playing surfaces scores highly, with maximum points achieved if you can see the Blingstallation from space.

Community Spirit
You score extra if your neighbours Bling their houses, and score huge if your whole street goes for it.

The X Factor
This is a non-specific score that I can provide at my own discretion, or if I want to fix it for the winners later on.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Christmas lights story of the year

I'm not supposed to be here. I'm supposed to be at the in-laws. But I found this and couldn't go until I'd shared it. I think it has got to be the Christmas story of the year. It's the standoff in Havana between the Cuban authorities and the US interest section.

To sum it all up, the Americans put up some HouseBling! in a fenced off area of Havana, along with a big number 75 representing the political activists serving long term sentences.

Here's the BBC's version of events

Remember, this is not a diplomatic mission, just what's known as the "US Interests Section". The Cubans asked the Americans to take down the dsiplays and when they refused, the Cubans put up giant posters opposite the blingstallation depicting pictures of the Abu Ghraib prisoners alongside red swastikas. Colin Powell has apparently termed the Cuban reaction as "unwise". Now apparently the Cuban students are involved adding gigantic caricatures of Bush and his chief diplomat, James Cason

It's the Christmas equivalent of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Without the threat of mutually assured destruction, obviously. Still it puts the Cotswold Cowards into perspective, don't you think?

And that bring me to the more exotic locations that I was asking for last week. Here are some late entrants into that category.

Zocalo Square, Mexico City


Moenchengladbach, Germany

Is that a real dog, do you think? This last one, found by Houseblingers on the China Daily site.

Right, better get off to the in-laws and beat the Christmas traffic.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The truth is out there

I've had some suspicions of this for a wee while now, but there is a great debate raging out there as to what kind of lights a self-respecting houseblinger should choose. Turns out there are two main schools of thought.

White lights

Coloured lights

In the white camp we have

Michael Kelly

In the coloured camp we have


Apparently there's a class issue involved here. All very interesting stuff, I'm sure you'll agree.

I've had a similar discussion with my girlfriend when we bought our first Christmas tree together this year. When we moved in together, she brought the Christmas decorations, natch, and she had made the considered decision to only install white lights on the tree. I didn't think anything of this, thought it was nice and tastefully done (well you'd expect that cos she teaches art for a living). Anyway, we picked up a tree this year that was bigger than any that she'd had before, and she didn't have enough lights to cover it. So we had to go and buy more. After trailing round a number of shops we settled on some low energy white LED lights from a local hardware store. Got to save the planet, likes. However, when we got them home and switched them on to compare they had a real blue-y tinge to them. So that was the end of them. They're now gracing the banister of the hallway in our house, and the tree is suffering without this year.

I think it still looks good, mind.

And that's about it for now, but before I go, a couple of things you really got to see! Some more from Austin, Texas and their outstanding array of superbly documented blingstallations.

Off one of the links I found this Santa Potato Head. Don't know why it works, it just does.

And now you can buy HouseBLING! the movie!!!

Well not exactly, but MT Silvia has made a movie about a street called Picardy Drive in Oakland, California on the night that they all put out the HouseBLING! Sounds like a truly gripping 56 and a half minutes. If anyone wants to buy me a Christmas present, you can pick it up here.

That's me off the scope until after the Big Day. I hope Santa's good to you all.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Bling on the christmas girls

I've got the flu, hence the quiet time. However, the world doesn't stop revolving when you're ill and the world of housebling is no different at all.

First up is this stellar effort from Gerry in the US. This is the Elvis House where the bling never dies. This fellah is bling to the core - all year round! No part timers required and the King need not apply. or something. Anyway, get a gander at these babies!

Not a snowman or a santa in sight, so does this qualify for the Housebling prize? I think the answer to that is most definitely "YES"! Here's the deal - Housebling is not a time of year thing, it's a state of mind thing. Garden gnomes, stone cladding, bizarre imitation seagulls and cats on the roof; they're all examples of housebling. Christmas is just the time that the closet blingers come out and announce to the world that they're not ashamed. I guess for them there's comfort in the number of likeminded footsoldiers. Or maybe it's because they can hide in the shadows of the long nights behind the glare of their halogen-fired reindeers. Whatever, the world is a better place for having them in it, but I wonder what it would be like if they were open all year round...

Next up, I've been given a steer by Jake to have a look at his website:

This example is in Hockley. I particularly like the reindeer and sleigh taking off from the roof.

The site is far more technically adept than this little blog, and hopefully we can all help him to build up a nice little library of pics between now and Christmas. Only a couple of days left folks...

He's got a distinctly Essex feel to the site, in his own words, "The epicentre of UK housebling". He's also coined another term to describe these efforts: "bling-stallations". I quite like that - it adds an air of respectibility and artistic integrity to the activity. It works especially because it makes one think of a fine art sculpture and suggests that the people who put these displays together spend a long time planning and designing before getting to the execution stage. There's no way these guys just wander up a ladder with a hammer and a pocket full of tacks baning the stuff in randomly. No, you can really see the time and effort spent in the preparation stage in the way the these displays hang together as the visual equivalent of a Wagner opera.

Case in point. These guys are in Australia (again). Apparently they've raised a stack of cash for Charity, and they've been doing this for 14 years. Now try telling me this wasn't planned!

So where are the girls alluded to at the top of this post?

The first one is sad story of a young terminally ill girl whose street is mucking in to help her raise money for charity.

If you happen to be in Pembrokeshire, get yourself down there and show your support. The lights are on until Jan 6.

The second story, perhaps a little late, is of Girls Aloud turning on the Christmas lights at the Trafford centre in Manchester. I know it happened back in November, but it is an excuse to put their name in my blog and maybe rustle up a few more hits! Cynical, me? Let's see what happens...


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Local Yokels

At last some local activity. No pictures here unfortunately, but the story's great. Imagine the deputy mayor coming to see you switch on the lights in your house.

And how about this for Christmassy - count down all year round!

And now...WOW!

All this and more at the hub of the Christmas Lights webring. 54 like minded, devotees! Good work fellahs!
Referring to a previous post I made about the Cotswolds, you should be aware that the area is not all Scrooge McDuck and humbug. Just down the road, you'll find this little beauty.

Moving on to exotic locations, they do things differently in Iceland. At this time of the year there's no light in the sky, so they probably use these as a way of guiding themselves home from the fishing grounds or something. I actually quite like the style here, pleasantly understated, with an real air of sophistication, and no effort to keep up with the Joneses.

You see, the more I find out about these folks, the more I like them. They're not hurting anyone, and even the folks that think the style is garish have got to admit to themselves they make them a wee bit happier about life, even if it is because it fuels their superiority complex. Take these guys for example. Their story gives a some insight to the motivation these people have, and of course the good heart at the middle of it all.

Keep it Chrismassy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

More Matilda

When I thought about setting this blog up, I was really only expecting to put up a couple of pics here purely for my own amusement. Having now dug a little deeper into the subject of Christmas lighting, it appears that we have a global phenomenon. I did suspect that this would be the case, but | can now confirm it. Here's a pic of a Homer Simpson Santa in Kallungar in Brisbane, Australia, that demonstrates that people on both sides of the world are taking to their exteriors and BLINGing up for Chrimbo.

I like it. I want more of it. I want to find the most obscure, unusual place in the world with house BLING! If anyone has a picture of Timbuktu or somewhere equalyy as evocative, then you better send me a copy!

Here are those Assie houseBLING!ers in full.


Thanks Matilda

Stay safe the aussie way this Christmas. I notice there's no instructions about safe barbecuing the Christmas dinner, mind.

Oh and while we're about it, here are some interesting facts, apparently, along with a documented history of Christmas lights. They've even got an FAQ page. Christ.


The flipside

Been away on business for a few days, but I've been made aware of a couple of new sites that perhaps you should be aware of too. is apparently run by Santa Claus but most of his pics are definitely in the states, so unless he's moved from Lapland to Michigan, I don't think it's really him. However, in deference to the lad, here's an absolute beauty - a rare daylight discrepancy!

Now comes rather a sadder tale. The BBC ran a story today about a kindly woman from Middlesbrough who was trying to raise a wee bit of money to help some sick kids or something and put up some signs around the town to direct people to see her HouseBLING! The council have told her that the signage is illegal and that it must be removed. Now, I'm not one to criticise, but I've been to Middlesborough, and I reckon the whole place should be condemned, especially the environmental embarrasment that is the ICI installation. In fact it's the closest place on earth to Unthank. I'd have thought the council would have been happy for anyone to do something to brighten the place up. So, I reckon we should be bombarding the council for the reinstatement of the HouseBLING! directions, maybe even get a few legal ones put up there on her behalf. Wouldn't that make your Christmas

Thanks to Clare for these.

Following on from this, a real life Scrooge sent a poison pen letter to a nice polite couple in the Cotswolds to threaten them about the single string of lights in their garden.

Now, to my thinking that's actually pretty tasteful and subdued, so why get so upset such a small thing. Are the people of the Cotswolds really that closed minded? I lay down this challenge: Expose the Cotswold Cowards and let the world know the kind of people that they are! I'll provide the bandwidth to get the message out, so if you know who is responsible for upsetting these folks, drop me an email to the address at the side.


Sunday, December 12, 2004

Born to Bling

Now we're getting somewhere! Don't know why it's even cooler, but the BBC's Cumbrian website has a selection of these bad boys on their site. Find them here

How much of an amateur can the UK be?

Hold it there folks! There are people all over the US doing much better than us at celebrating Christmas. You can see it in the pride they take in their houses. Thing is, they've gone a step further and arranged a conference to share ideas on how best to handle their houseBLING! There's also a selection of last year's efforts up there. Jesus, can those kids celebrate!

24,000 lights and counting. Full credit for the pic here

I've hit the motherlode!!!!

I knew things were bigger in the states, but this has got to be the coolest interactive experience this side of Christmas. Check out this dude's Controlable Christmas Light Show! I've never seen anything like this anywhere before.

You're gonna have to hit me with some beauties to even get close to this guy.

Word is spreading...

It's only been a couple of days since the word "HouseBLING!" was coined. For that I think you need to go to the Telegraph website here. Believe me, it's there somewhere. And as you know in Blogland it doesn't take long to spread this kind of stuff around. So let's see it. Bring it on! (Note to reader, this movie is on in the background as I type) Check out these guys - dedicated houseblingers making their local newspaper.

Any more for any more???

Seasonal HouseBLING!

I was on my way back from a walk to see a nice waterfall called High Force in County Durham. Apparently it's the highest waterfall in England. Anyway, on the way home I passed this place in Woolsingham and noted this superb HouseBLING! effort. It got me thinking about the folks that do this, what they're like, are they competing with one another, where do they store this stuff after Christmas...?!? So here's the first entry into the great Chritsmas HouseBLING! contest 2004. All submissions into this competition gratefully received, stating your name, the name of the town, village or area that you found your entry, and you may win a prize. As might the people who put the BLING! up there in the first place. Not that I've bought any prizes yet, but let's see how well this goes in the last two weeks before Christmas. Drop a note to with any pics you may have.