Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Christmas-crazy Cambridge pub pulls out all the stops

A Cambridge pub has pulled out all the stops to kick Christmas cheer into overdrive. David Utting, who owns The Empress on Thoday Street, has decked the halls of the pub with lashings of tinsel, lights and decorations in anticipation of the festive season. Mr Utting said it takes weeks for him and his employees to decorate even a single room, and they could be working "all through the day, for hours and hours". He said: "People keep saying, 'Dave, it's not even Hallowe'en yet, and I tell them, 'do you know how long this stuff takes to put up?'." "All the walls are covered in chimney brick work, which is like wallpaper, so that takes a long time to do. Then we have probably around 60 or 70 sets of lights to put up, and then we have got probably 500 baubles. It's beautiful." The interior is also adorned with teddy bears and models of snowmen and santa. Crackers and seasonal socks hang like wintery stalactites. Members of staff wear Santa hats and Mr Utting has his very own elf costume. But if you think all these decorations come cheap, think again. "Every year I spend a little bit extra," he said. "And over a period of about nine years, you can imagine how much stuff I have collected. I spend about two or three grand a year." Mr Utting was ill last year and was forced to scale back decorations. This year, however, customers have really noticed the difference, he said. "People know I'm going for it this year. They've come up to me and said 'this looks really cool, Dave'." Following in The Empress tradition, free food will be served on Christmas day. Mr Utting said of last year's event, "we did a roast dinner for free for people, but it was a lot of work for my wife. "Still, this year we'll be doing Shepherd's Pie for free. I don't need the money and it's what Christmas is all about. I don't mind putting out a few trays." "It's really nice to do it for the local community." Cambridge News