This Christmas we had a busy schedule of family visits like never before – such that we rented a car (Nissan Qashqai) and traveled up to Bolton and back to see everyone.
- Dec 22 – Christmas party at mom’s house in London with Dad, Ailz, Joe, Vicky, Aria
- Dec 24 – Christmas Eve party at Alice’s house in Leicester with Mom, Karen, Alice, Jay, Ivy, Clover
- Dec 25 – Christmas Day party at Alice’s house with above plus Tony, John and Bev (Jay’s folks)
- Dec 26 – Boxing Day drive up north
- Dec 27 – Post-Christmas visit at Joe’s house with Joe, Vicky and Aria
It was pretty full-on and full of little adventures, with awesome food at every leg and lots of fun with nieces. Highlights include:
- Father Christmas turning up in my sister’s neighborhood in his motorized sleigh.
- Church on Christmas Day morning with my mom and Karen. I can’t imagine when last I went to church on Christmas Day! They had a couple of weird panto-like songs, and one proper one. Sermonizing was kept to a minimum.
- Getting the gifts for my sister’s kids bang on, with Harry Potter dolls for Ivy, and a Daniel Tiger backpack for Clover. She is only 3 and the backpack dwarfs her! But still she is keen to wear it.
- On Boxing Day we headed up to Bolton to see my brother, and spent the day with lunch at The Last Drop Inn, followed by a brief walk around the Dunscar Golf Course near my old house, then watched Mary Poppins, then the final descent to the yurt where we planned to ‘glamp’.
However, all did not go according to plan. The yurt, at the bottom of a muddy field in the dark, had a wood burner which I set up professionally with 3 bits of crumpled paper and a log cabin of kindling around it. The paper they’d provided didn’t burn though, and just made smoke. The smoke didn’t rise up the chimney and just washed back into the room, stinking it up.
We called the owner and she said she’d never seen it do that before. She thought the chimney must be blocked. Anyway, we bailed out and asked for a refund – because even if she fixed it, everything would smell of smoke all night. So, we got back in our car at 8pm on Boxing Day, trying to find a new place to stay!
Our phones were dying. Su’s died and mine hit 9%. We called the Last Drop but nobody answered. We decided to just go for it and turn up, hoping they’d have a room.
They did! We stayed at the Last Drop, had a cheese platter, enjoyed the guy blasting out Robbie Williams’ songs in the bar, enjoyed power, heat and running water, and slept well.
- On the 27th we visited my brother’s new place – they’ve got it decorated so beautifully inside, dark wood floors, stacked stone wall in the bathroom, big and classy printed photographs. Joe has a cabinet full of all his figures. Really beautiful – and they laid on a great Us-theme lunch with Frank n Beans, cornbread, and other fixings.
Aria, who’s 5, then did some gymnastics on the floor mats – she’s really very good, we played some board games, made some LEGO, then went outside to a field where Joe and I chased Aria around with Joe’s new drone! She loved it, totally giddy and endlessly energetic. A really great visit.
Then a 7-hour drive home. It’s the 29th now, and today and yesterday I’ve been laid up with an upset stomach. I think just all the rich food over the period, plus the big Burger King burger I had on the way home.
On the whole, awesome, exhausting, great fun and good family times.