Weird and Wonderful: Santa on the Beach


Even Santa needs a holiday! Actually, he probably needs a holiday more than most – his Christmas Eve duties must be exhausting. Here he is, relaxing on a Florida beach with several reindeer (below) and some surprised locals (above).

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Christmas in Space: The ISS Edition

ISS-38: Astronaut Mike Hopkins on a Christmas Eve Spacewalk (2013)
ISS-38: Astronaut Mike Hopkins on a Christmas Eve Spacewalk (2013)

Imagine Christmas in zero-gravity. Pouring the gravy on your turkey dinner would certainly be a bit of a challenge for a start. I’m not sure how you’d even begin to wrap your pressies up without the sellotape, the wrapping paper and the present floating away. And I don’t think space stations actually have chimneys for Santa to get down anyway, so how would your pressies be delivered in the first place?

There are, however, a small group of quite amazing people who have faced all these things and have actually managed to spend Christmas in space. These fantastic photos (below) of the festive season onboard the International Space Station (ISS), Mir, and Skylab are from the NASA archive, and are a glimpse into what Christmas is like when you’re in earth orbit and very far from home…

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And as a bonus, here’s the famous video of astronaut and social media star Commander Chris Hadfield performing the David Bowie classic ‘Space Oddity’ while actually in space. How rock n roll is that?

For much more Christmas stuff, direct your mouse into orbit here.

Santa Claus, the Pub Crawl


Blimey. Not sure I should have had that third helping of sherry trifle – I’m seeing multiple Santas now! This jolly festive overspill was snapped at the famous World’s End pub in Camden, North London in 2009.

This was one of the first images I found while hunting for Christmassy blog post stuff on Wikimedia Commons this year, and I couldn’t resist sharing it. Because, in the end, how many Santas are too many Santas!?

I think there’s no such thing, so many more Santas (both old and new) will be winging their way to you in the run-up to Christmas day – welcome to Santa Week on Another Kind Of Mind!

For lots more Christmas reading (and viewing) from me, click here


Bringing in the Mistletoe (1959)

Boys from Trawsfynydd collecting holly and mistletoe to sell (December 1959)

I’ve been seeing a lot of Christmas decorations going up this last week or so (although someone on my street has actually had their tree up since Halloween!). I’m still catching up a bit, I’ve only just dragged my tree out of the cupboard where it lives for the rest of the year – although I have bought some cute new ornaments already and have been wondering where I might get some sprigs of holly to add to the festive wreath I hang on my front door.

These cheerful young lads might have helped me in that last respect. They’re from the Welsh village of Trawsfynydd, and they have been preparing for Christmas in traditional fashion by gathering festive greenery from the local area.

Photographer Geoff Charles has caught these 1950s schoolboys on their way to the market to sell their carefully gathered bundles of holly and mistletoe; green winter treasures that are destined to decorate the houses and cottages of the village for Christmas – and earn these young entrepreneurs a bit of pocket money towards festive expenses too…

The lads in this charming 1959 photograph from the National Library of Wales collection would have had an amazing natural environment to grow up in, and Christmas traditions connected to the landscape like gathering seasonal greenery for the home or for sale would likely have been a longstanding custom repeated by successive generations of kids and adults.

Bringing in the mistletoe and taking it to market was a tradition rich in symbolism elsewhere too, which you can see in these 18th and 19th-century images of mistletoe sellers from France and Switzerland. It is pleasing to report that mistletoe markets remain part of the Christmas season in numerous places to this day.

For lots more Christmas reading (and viewing) from me, click here


Playlisting: Hail Santa!

Embed from Getty Images

Christmas is Metal.

No, really. It is. It is known.

You need to trust me on this. It’s true. Christmas goes all the way up to eleven and then some…

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Post Early For Christmas… Again!

‘Christmas Mail’ (c. 1910-15)

In recent years, we’ve met the world’s most organised dog, a clumsy wartime comic and some of the people of Christmas, Florida (watch out for more from them soon!), who were all united in explaining how to get your cards, presents and letters to Santa in the post in plenty of time for the festivities.

I’ve been a bit rubbish with my Christmas post this year, but I loved these festive mail-related images. The black and white photographs are all American, probably taken in and around the Washington DC area, and the brightly coloured adverts (below) are from wartime Britain again.

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December Update (Good News and a Grumpy Victorian Kitty)

The Black Cat, December (c. 1890)
“I can see exactly what you’re up to there, human, and I disapprove” (The Black Cat Magazine, December issue, c. 1890s)

Rather excitingly, Another Kind Of Mind hit 100,000 views yesterday. I’m absolutely thrilled by this – it’s really not bad going for a slightly eccentric and badly-promoted personal blog written by a chronically ill 40-something who should probably know better by now!

Self-deprecating jokes aside, it is genuinely a pleasure for me to see how many of you have popped by over time (“Popped by? Swarmed by is more like it!”), and the incredible diversity of where you are all from. In the ten years of writing this blog, I have had visitors from almost every single country in the world, something which never ceases to amaze me.

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Happy 2019!

Some officers of a Scottish Division on New Year’s Day (c. 1918)

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I’ve been feeling thoughtful…

Round about one hundred years ago, this cheerful bunch of Scotsmen (abovenote the kilts!) would have been celebrating what was probably the last Hogmanay of World War One. They seem to have found what looks like a fairly comfortable billet, and, judging from the bottles at their feet, have undoubtedly indulged in a few beers and a chorus or two of Auld Lang Syne.

A century later, and the world is still fighting. And as this year finally draws to a close, I hope more than ever that we can eventually come to terms with the increasingly glaring truth that monetized hatred, bigotry and violence are slowly destroying us and our planet.

But it is also important to remember that kindness costs nothing. Thoughtfulness costs nothing. We need more of both in 2019, all over the world. We’re not broken – not yet – but we have to take all the chances we can still get as individuals, communities, governments to help rather than hinder peace.

There are lessons to be learned from World War One and its aftermath, as well as from the rise of fascism during the interwar years. We still haven’t learned them, and that needs to change. Going down that road should never be a feasible option again, anywhere.

For me, 2018 can do one, it’s been a particularly brutal year on a personal level all round. However, I hope your New Year is happy, bright and peaceful – and, as ever, I send a huge thank you to you all. I say this every year, but it remains true. I couldn’t do this without my readers.

Happy 2019!