God smiled on Hayling Island last night

Yes, the hurricane winds of Thursday night abated, the torrential downpour ceased, the stars even came out and it was a fresh, cold night. It felt like Christmas and it was Christmas on Hayling Island. It was a perfect evening for our late night Christmas shopping and Christmas festival. We had carousels, side shows, carol singers, roast chestnuts and stalls out on the tiny high street. The handful of shops were open and doing a brisk trade. The bakery was giving away their delicious mince pies and free coffee, there were drinks in the shops, chocolates and more mince pies, even the estate agents and funeral directors had stalls, no they weren't selling cut price property or coffins, but bric-a-brac for charity. Our community policeman was strolling the street but he wasn't needed for anything more taxing than telling the time. The fire engine was there with the lads, and the local teenagers put on a magnificent song and dance performance. The deputy mayor from our nearest town, Havant, about four miles away and over the bridge onto the mainland came to judge the children's painting competition and the best dressed shop window competition. Oh, and there were donkey rides too. Families came out in their droves, and the local bookshop was full of people squeezed tightly into its tiny space. I spoke to a few of my readers, signed and dedicated books for Christmas presents. It was so essentially an old fashioned British village evening. Not a superstore, trouble-maker or drunk in sight. Well done to all the shopkeepers of Hayling who made it happen. You done us proud!

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