It’s that point between Christmas and New Year where many of us feel like we are in Chrimbo Limbo. Christmas is over but it’s not quite time to take down the decorations yet (although I do know a few people who have), and there are still a few days until the new year. I’ve seen quite a few social media memes about not knowing what time of day it is or what is happening, and I can relate.
For the first time in almost a year I took a period of annual leave that was more than just a few days. After working so hard for such a long time and experiencing high levels of stress over the last few months I found it disorienting and difficult to relax at first – even when I was in my jammies and watching Christmas films I felt a little agitated, like I should be doing something and it took a few days to be able to get into the it’s ok to have a rest mindset. I think I needed to decompress. It has made me think about the importance of regularly taking some time for myself next year – the mental state that I was in before Christmas wasn’t an entirely healthy one and despite the fact that I enjoy my job, I need to start setting some very clear boundaries when it comes to workload and client demands and expectations.
Earlier in December I took my Mum to York for her birthday. This was something we had been planning for a while – neither of us had visited before and it was a great opportunity to spend some time together as we hadn’t seen each other in person since June.
Part of the trip was to explore Castle Howard. Mum had wanted to visit since watching the Brideshead Revisited series in the 80s which was filmed there (in fact, it has been used as the location in many movies and TV shows, most recently serving as the family home of the Duke of Hastings in Bridgerton), and I discovered that there was a Christmas in Narnia event taking place at the time we wanted to go. Perfect. I booked us a hotel in the centre of York so that we could also explore the city.
I look forward to Christmas every year. Since we got married (can you believe that was over four years ago already??!) The Bloke and I spend Christmas at home, visiting family and friends in the weeks before (although last year we weren’t able to do that). We have developed a bit of a routine and traditions – when we buy presents and send cards, when and how we decorate, when we go food shopping etc. Usually by now everything would be done and ready to go well in advance – the cupboards would be full, presents would be wrapped, our Christmas watchlist would have been planned to the nth degree to avoid missing any of the Christmas specials, The Bloke would have braved Marks and Spencer to grab a pre-rolled turkey and stuffing (there’s only two of us and there’s no way I’m spending half my Christmas Day cooking a massive frozen turkey that will go to waste) and I would have posted on the blog several times about how drunk the tree looks etc.
With less than a week to go until Christmas, The Bloke and I have taken to adulting to get everything prepared in advance. I was determined (especially after a such a crazy year), Christmas would be a period in which we could actually relax, do something positive for others and then take some time for ourselves without worrying about last-minute things, and we’ve managed most of it (although the found myself on a mad dash to the postbox yesterday to send off a whole bunch of Christmas cards.
The last quarter of the year is always the busiest. Between October and December there are five birthdays within our family including mine and The Bloke’s and we had our third wedding anniversary at the end of October. Normally we would take a trip somewhere to celebrate at least one of these (last year we went to London for the weekend with my sister and her boyfriend to see the Tutankhamun exhibition at the Saatchi and the year before we fed giraffes at West Midlands Safari Park and went to the Harry Potter Studios Tour) but most of the last few months have been spent trying to stay safe and well at home. Instead I have created almost mini staycations and celebrations indoors, finding interesting things to watch and trying to support local businesses by ordering from them rather than going through the giants that now monopolise the online shopping world (except Lego of course, because The Bloke loves it).Continue reading →
Last week I had the opportunity to join the team from Moonpig and a whole bunch of bloggers for an fun evening of Christmas cards, flowers and cocktails with the Moonpig Virtual Event.
I’ve spent a lot of time on Zoom this year, but not for a blogging event before. It had been a rather exciting week – I had received lots of different goodies from Moonpig in preparation and it was something I had been looking forward to. Let’s face it – after the year we’ve all had, an evening of Christmas cheer was very much needed! Continue reading →
For me, Christmas dinner represents everything about the festive season perfectly. Several weeks of planning, shopping for the ingredients, a few hours of prep followed by the whole cooking with different temperatures and timing debacle… and it’s all done and finished in seemingly the blink of an eye, leaving behind an epic amount of washing up and a personal vow never to eat that much in one sitting again.
Christmas was awesome, but was over far too quickly.
Despite the minor panic in the last few days leading up to it, I somehow managed to end the day before Christmas Eve with a full fridge, wrapped presents and some clean laundry. The Bloke and I stayed at home for the third year in a row, and we decided that we would have a much more relaxed approach to the holiday, spending most of the time on the couch with the cat (who had a rather fetching new hat that he was obviously delighted with) on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and popping in to feed Paddy (my friend’s bunny that hates me). Continue reading →
A few years ago The Bloke and I were spending our first Christmas together at home as a married couple. I was beyond excited – normally we celebrated our own Christmas together a few days early, then would travel up north to be with our individual families (mine live in Bolton and his are in Sheffield) and on Boxing Day he would drive across the Pennines and meet me, where we would then drive back down to Birmingham. I spent weeks planning and organising everything – putting up the tree, writing and sending cards and presents, sorting out the food and TV schedule – and by the middle of December everything was pretty much finished, aside from the fresh produce I needed for Christmas dinner. Continue reading →
The German Christmas Market arrived back in Birmingham a few weeks ago. Over the years it has become a source of debate among the locals (of which, after nearly 20 years of living in the city I now consider myself to be a part of). Like Marmite it is both loved and loathed in equal measure, with the call for the now duplicated stalls to be replaced by some of the many incredible independents that the city has.
I’ve never been one to stand around in the crowd to drink Gluwein, but I do try and visit at least once a year. I like the atmosphere, the lights and – of course – a rather massive German sausage followed by chocolate and banana crepe and some of those yummy mallow chocolate-covered things. And poffertjies. And large slabs of garlic bread that creates breath so potent that it could kill a vampire at one hundred metres. Continue reading →
Last night The Bloke and I were invited to the press review of How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical at The Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham.
The musical adaptation of the popular Dr Seuss book, How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical tells the story of the miserable Grinch who lives on the top of Mount Crumpit with his downtrodden dog, Max. With a heart ‘two sizes too small,’ he sets out to ruin Christmas for the town of Whoville, home of the cheery and warm-hearted Whos. Narrated primarily in verse by Steve Fortune’s ‘Old Max’ throughout, Birmingham audiences were also treated to a one-off special guest appearance from George Hancorn who opened the performance. Continue reading →
The focus of the trip was the Tutankhamun Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery – 150 artefacts from the tomb of Egypt’s most famous King are on display there until May as part of the final World Tour – which could potentially be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see them. Our tickets were booked for 10.00am, and so we joined the queue in the rain a few minutes before.
I’ve always been interested in Egyptian ancient history and culture, so this collection of items was a real privilege to be able to see in person, 100 years after their discovery by Howard Carter. Continue reading →