Buying a real Christmas tree is the start of Christmas in my parents’ household and in our typical optimism we’ve always sought the biggest, fattest, most Christmassy Christmas tree we can feast our eyes on. Today has been in the diary as Christmas Tree Day for some time, and although Michael Fish & Co tried best to thwart our plans with flash floods and gales in the Vale, the car was packed with family members as we made our annual pilgrimage to find the perfect Christmas tree. For three years in a row now we’ve found this at Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm near Battle in East Sussex. But it hasn’t always been so easy.
Let me take you back a number of years where Christmas Tree Day was more like a long weekend or even successive weekends visiting all the local DIY stores, garden centres, that-guy-by-the-motorway and just about anyone else who claimed to have super-sized Christmas trees. Dad, equipped with his welding gloves, would pull out tree after tree from the confines of its netting to a chorus of cheers, boos or ‘give it a twirl’ from the rest of us. Wagon Wheels, Kinder Eggs and garden centre Christmas trees – they all get smaller as you get older, and the time came when our usual outlets for Christmas trees just weren’t delivering that ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas’ sort of tree. Time to look further afield.
I think my parents found out about Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm a few years back when they saw a TV show about its owner, Clive Collins. Here’s a clip on the BBC website.
We set off to find the farm which was a lovely day itself – a beautiful drive through the South Downs heading towards Battle. The farm is easy to find, just situated off a main road and is a wonderful place filled with all sorts of shapes and sizes of Christmas tree, some pruned, some more wild, and the most adorable diddy baby Christmas trees you ever did see. If you don’t find what you like from the pre-cut selection, you can head out into the farm and pick one yourself. No need to bring your own axe, though.
Back to today, and we pull in to the farm and find it’s closed. Whaaaaat? Undeterred by signage, we continue along the track and find a gate closed. But wait, what’s that? We spy movement in the field so volunteer my brother to hop out in the rain and find out what’s occurring. Whatever he said to them did the trick and we were waved over through the exit and into the farm. The first tree was spotted, it looked like a good’un, and sure enough it was a beaut. In our own technical lingo, it was a “consistent fat one from top to bottom” and looked dense enough to harbour some squirrels and a woodpecker so we unanimously agreed this was The One.
This is an official family record of selecting a Christmas tree in less than 15 minutes. Personal best. World record!
Leaving my dad, brother and the farm staff to wrestle the tree on to the car roof, my mum, husband and I set off to find it a little brother and settled on a lovely dinky five footer for ourselves.
Although the farm had been sort-of-closed that day, Clive even opened up the Christmas Shop for us and we treated ourselves to some decorations and helped ourselves to some Christmas sweets from the tin.
If you’re thinking about getting a real Christmas tree this year, check out Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm. Clive and his team are very knowledgable and friendly, and you will not be disappointed. Unless of course they’re closed, but don’t take that for gospel!
Address: Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm, Catsfield Stream, Battle, East Sussex, TN33 9BB
Tel: 01424 893332