I took a day off yesterday and went on a trip to the Bury St Edmunds Christmas market with some work colleagues.
If you've not been, I thoroughly recommend it - Bury St Edmunds is a lovely little town, lots of small cobbled streets, independent traders, an astounding cathedral with lovely grounds, and the Christmas Market itself was huge. It bills itself as the biggest in the UK, and that's not a vain boast.
We had a great time wandering around sampling the various cheeses, liqueurs, preserves and other local produce, and despite having all my presents bought already, I couldn't resist buying a few more (ok, a LOT more!). When we'd done the main market and needed a rest, we had some lovely tea at the quirky little Edmundo Lounge, just off the main area and refreshingly free of Christmas Market shoppers.
Making our way back to the main market from there down the little cobbled side streets to pick up some things we'd noted down but wanted to get last so as not to carry them around all day, we were met with this jarring reality of Christmas in modern Britain:
Yes. They are exactly what they look like - anti-Muslim terrorism barriers. I wouldn't say the sight of them spoiled the day, we still had a lovely time.
But even so...is this what we can now expect every Christmas, even in the smallest, most quintessentially English town? How very sad.
And how very avoidable...