Happy new year to one and all. May 2012 bring you all you hope for.
We're back in Spain now after two weeks of manic activity, visiting family and friends in Blighty over Christmas and New Year. It is hard to capture the delight of once again being with our precious family and valued friends in the customary Christmas wind and rain but here goes.
We prepared for our flight by packing with our usual bickering over the contents and weight of our cases. Men will never appreciate the security provided by a well stuffed case full of underwear, PJ's, perfume and makeup. Mr H travels light these days, a three item toilet bag, a cleverley calculated clean pants to each day ratio, crisp white cotton hankies, his Kindle and chewing gum.
We were greeted by tears and hugs from family as we arrived at the airport and the excitement soon kicked in as we discussed our plan of action and daily itinery while being driven on the wrong side of the road to our billet for the next 6 days! Must mention the ecstatic greeting we received from our daughters dog Lucy, once she realised it actually was us walking into the kitchen she crashed around crying loudly while gathering every toy she possesed as gifts for us and did a little wee in her excitement, just magic.
We joined up with family to do battle with fellow Christmas shoppers in the grey drizzle, howling winds and the endless queues at the tills with a strange sense of excitement. Maybe it's because we had escaped the stressful build up to Christmas in sunny Spain but in our previous life Christmas shopping started in early June and ended in the January sales!
I would spend weeks putting up my lovingly collected christmas decorations and four themed trees;
1 black and white glass baubles, beads, fabric bits and feathers
2 chocolates and candy canes
3 miniature plain and glitter baubles
4 my show stopper covered in blue/green feathers, all manner of tiny shoe decorations (slingbacks and stilletos included) sequin encrusted handbags, miles of blue/purple and green beads all lit up with retina burning neon blue LED lights.
Bear in mind that this was all to the dismay of Mr H who would be more than happy with a solitary sprig of fresh holly from the local graveyard in his freshly baked christmas sausage roll thank you very much. So this was a first for us. We completed all our Christmas shopping in one day (23rd December) without tears, mental breakdown or a cross word.
Mr H took on a personal challenge, he had accepted the mission of taking a parcel for a fellow camper in Spain back to England to be posted. The parcel contained lovingly knitted garments for family pets no less! Imagine the scene; Mr H tucks the precious parcel under his arm and leans into the wind and rain determined to complete the task and honour his promise to our friends. Off he limps (yes he had a gammy leg at the time due to a swollen achilles tendon) to join the long queue at the post office, no concessions were made for his predicament as he awaited his turn but this just made him more determined to get the job done. When asked at the desk by the tired and bored post office technician "is there anything of value in the parcel?" Mr H choked back his tears and replied "very little monetary value Miss but the contents were hand-made with love and care"; the response.... " will that be first or second class post then?"
Whatever happened to the true spirit of Christmas!
In contrast I have experienced the noisy pleasures of the pantomine Cinderella at a local theatre with my mother, at 82 she was as verbal and rowdy as the children, we giggled at the jokes and ate toffee until a little nauseous, a special memory day to treasure for us both. I also experienced for the first time Imax 3D cinema, and a Boxing day visit to Anfield to watch Liverpool play with my two fast-growing-up grandchildren and son-in-law.
During our visit I realised that suprise attacks were now required before hugging and smelling (only a woman will understand this need to inhale their scent!) my lovely grandsons to avoid major embarrassment in front of their friends as they are far to cool to be seen hugging Nan these days. Although one did spend an hour or two playing with an empty box whilst wearing impossible layers of gifted designer clothing and holding every present both he and the dog received.
We were treated to endless home-made and Mr Blumenthal-created festive fare throughout. Being with close family and friends again back in the UK provided some reassurance for us that we have all survived the initial major transitions of our chosen adventure. So we returned to Spain having thoroughly enjoyed our visit and looking forward to catching up with our friends at camp and donning our shorts and tees to chill out in the sun.