Years ago Nick and I visited San Diego in November; the shops, in their run up to Christmas, were festively lit up and Christmas carols were playing in all the malls, songs about snow and Winter and keeping warm by the fire. It was bizarre to us then, that the weather outside was far from frightful, in fact to your average Brit (not just those tough Northerners either, I’m including us Southern softies here too) it was beach weather. I don’t remember doing all that much shopping; we were too busy making the most of the glorious outdoors, just hanging out by the sea. As we caught our breath perched on a bench a (presumably) local man smiled and commented that it was just another perfect day in Southern California. We nodded politely in agreement and he continued on his way. Wow, so many perfect days that it’s no big deal.
This time last year we had just returned home having spent Christmas in Perth, Australia; our first in the southern hemisphere. It reminded me a bit of that trip to San Diego with Christmas trees and sparkly decorations oddly juxtaposed with women in bikinis and kids eating ice creams. We noticed that it felt different; perhaps a bit less “Christmassy,” than usual but overall a great deal more relaxed. Once the kids had opened their presents we spent the morning on the beach, chatting to local families and enjoying the odd glass of something bubbly. There was no mammoth cooking session, no trying to squeeze into the oven a turkey so large that you had to start before sunrise if you wanted it cooked by lunch, we barbecued king prawns instead, and when I say “we” I mean “they” – the boys. The quintessentially English mince pie was a little tricky to get hold of (but not impossible!), and there was no point buying the kids the annual chocolate selection box as most likely it would be liquid before you got home. All the same we had a fabulous time.
This year we have enjoyed another traditional Winter Christmas with all the things that make Christmas in England such a treat; there has been turkey and chocolates, wood fires and brisk frosty walks, more chocolates and Christmas puddings, Christmas crackers and dreadful jokes, Downton Abbey and the Queen’s Christmas message, mince pies, monopoly and more chocolates, paper hats and Bond reruns. Did I mention the chocolate wine? (seriously, check it out: http://www.rubiswine.com/) We have spent time with family and recharged our batteries whilst being looked after by my parents who probably now need a good rest themselves.
Now I don’t want to be accused of trying to paint a rose tinted picture here so for the sake of objectivity, there has also been headaches and hangovers, indigestion and squabbles over board games. The older boys were allowed to stay up to see in the new year which meant they slept in late the following morning and now their body clocks are more akin to children in Toronto. They are overtired and overdosed on sugar and Nick and I are in a similar state – lethargic almost to the point of unconsciousness (possibly on account of the aforementioned chocolate wine) so getting them back into school mode in a couple of days will be something of a challenge.
In an effort to get some much needed exercise yesterday we all headed down to the local beach and watched the annual charity New Year’s Day swim. That’s right, we watched.
We have all agreed that next year we will swim.
When we are in Sydney.
Happy New Year!