I am aware this post is a little late; A lot has been happening, thanks for sticking around reading crew.
I had just come back from Belgium, a great place to be around Christmas, however for Christmas day I chose to spend it in sunny England. Sadly I knew my time in London was coming to an end. I had 3 months left, if that, due to losing my job so close to my Working holiday visa ending, luckily I managed to get some spare temp work along the way to survive out Christmas and New Year’s.
For Christmas, I wanted to soak up as much “Britishness” as possible. For many, being away from family and friends at the festive time is hard, for me, it’s a chance for a new type of culture and experience.. Last year I got cultured over a German Christmas, this year I decided I wanted a traditional British Christmas.
I organised a few “orphans” and a little cottage in York. York is a quintessential British part of the world as well as being in the North, meaning it was half way to Edinburgh, which was our next stop for Hogmanay for New Year’s Eve. I thought Christmas would just be perfect! However, I guess as far as my life goes, Christmas is not Christmas without a few hiccups.
How to have a perfect British Christmas (or not)
Take cold weather, lots of Mulled wine, a roast chicken lunch. Add a dash of champagne, cheese and crackers, divide between strangers, add lots of drama, a few pain in the asses, place it all in a cute cottage with a fireplace, take away the wrapping paper and there you have the perfect recipe for a British Christmas. But in more detail…
1. Do hire very cute cottage in beautiful English city or countryside
Our little cottage was complete with a fireplace and fully equipped kitchen. There were games, a dining room, a TV for the queens speech and even a tea pot for the morning tea.It was perfect…
We had a great time in this cottage until… The shizzle hit the fanizzle
As per any situation similar you have to put a bond down, right? So I put 500 quid as the bond with the knowledge that it wouldn’t leave my back account if nothing went wrong with the cottage. We left, heading for Edinburgh, this is when I am told that I will not be getting my bond back as there were damages…
- We broke a chair (I don’t recall seeing a broken chair)
- Somebody had stolen the laundry bag…. (We are backpackers traveling to Scotland, what the hell do we want with a laundry bag)
I denied all the claims. We asked to see the damages, we asked for a picture of the broken chair, we ask for an itinerary or photo of some sort of prove that the laundry bag was stolen. These artefacts never reached my inbox, however the money was taken out of my bank! a huge amount of stress that I just did not need for my trip up to Scotland, when I had just lost my job.
Luckily I contacted my bank, explained the story and they put the money back in my account. NOT CHRISTMAS WITHOUT A DRAMA RIGHT?
2. Do make mulled wine
The highlight of any European winter for me is just that! Mulled wine, spicy, warm, yummy, rum infested mulled wine. Perhaps my favourite beverage (aside from all of my other favourite beverages)
After checking out how cute the little cottage was, the next thing on my agenda was making sure there was a huge pot. Low and Behold, there was! The house was constantly smelly of cinnamon and wine goodness!
Truth be told, its Christmas in England, not having mulled wine would be like trying to fly without wings.
3. Do have lots of champagne (because we posh and shit)
4. Do have a cheese board, crackers and so on
4. Do give gifts (and wrap them properly)
5. Do have an awesome lunch – Do not drink too much of #2 if you plan to do # 5
The food, of course is number one (only surpassable by the alcohol) My plan was to cook. Those who know me may laugh at this. I told the girls I was planning to take over the kitchen and make a magical Christmas lunch, I was going to impress the entire crew with my “domesticatedness” and “el natural cooking skills”
Perhaps a bit too much of the surpassable passed and I was too hungover Christmas morning to make the lunch. The girls saved the day and prepared a great Christmas lunch
6. Do be organised!
I failed at this from the start, I had a lot on my mind with losing my job and such, so on top of having committed to organising this xmas break I took on too much. Money wasn’t collected in time, people didn’t chip in, some almost cancelled… it was a shamble. Ideally I should have set people tasks, collected money from the start in case of drop outs
What should have been a team effort ended up being a lot of stress on me. I had to do all the grocery shopping the day of/in fact, hours before my train to York. I then had to arrange to get the groceries to York as I had baggage enough for York and Edinburgh and no hands left for groceries. Ideally I would have had everyone pick up something, keep the receipts and sort it out from there
7. Do have photoshop when you miss your train to York
This brings me to the previous point of being organised. I had booked my ticket to York but missed my train (thanks to the above) I jumped on the next available train to York with no printed ticket. When the train inspector came around to look at my ticket. I put on the innocent eyes and proceeded to tell him that I didn’t have time to print my ticket but it was in my laptop. He kindly said he would come back around, giving me enough time to pull up photoshop and change a few digits on my PDF ticket. He bought it hook line and sinker, warning me to print my ticket out next time!
Insert massive relief here! Pays to be a graphic designer!
Christmas turned out to be a very eventful time. All in all York was amazing and a British Christmas is certainly worth the experience. It gives me chills just thinking about how lovely it was to be with friends in a house smelling of Mulled Wine and roasted chicken.
Tell me how was your Christmas? Which country and with who did you experience it with? (My how fast the year travels!)