Christmas Shopping

Having downed a number of vile hot lemon drinks at the insistence of Letad, I was feeling much better and so we went out on Saturday to start Christmas shopping. Or at least that was the intention.

We walked through Regents Park on what felt like the perfect Autumn morning and sat in the sunshine on Marylebone High Street having coffee.

From there we braved Oxford Street venturing into Selfridges, John Lewis and Debenhams before heading to Liberty. I saw many lovely things sadly all of them things I would like and my Christmas list would be very long indeed.

At Liberty I bought a lovely new winter hat in felt which I suspect will be stapled to my head for the next few months and combined with my new faux fur vest, made me feel like a 70s rockstar, if only in my head.

trending… fake fur

Funnily enough, by the time we got home, I had bought a new waterproof jacket, fur socks for my wellies, Nespresso pods for the coffee machine, a new winter duvet, pillowcases and duvet cover and my new hat.

What Christmas shopping? Apparently I can’t be trusted.

The week of extreme gluttony

It was the busiest week, lots of eating and drinking and lots of merriment and with barely a moment to breathe, blogging went by the wayside.

After Christmas Eve in Croydon and Midnight Mass in Primrose Hill, we spent Christmas Day with Letad’s family in Enfield where lots of fun was had and lots of consuming was done. Interesting concoctions included pickled onions, Stilton and Christmas cake washed down with copious amounts of Champagne, it all seemed like a good idea at the time. 

We took part in the family quiz and the tie-break was a very close call involving a buzzing wire game and a red flashing nose. It would appear my best behaviour hadn’t lasted long as I rolled up my sleeves, strapped on the flashing red nose and did my best not to touch the buzzing wire. Not my finest moment but I gave it my best competitive effort.

A little the worse for wear we headed delicately to the Boxing Day sales and then home for an early night, 

We then drove to Devon on the 27th to see my sister and her family. We had a delicious lunch in a pub in Chagwell where we spotted Jennifer Saunders and Adrian Edmondson and then, drove back to London at dawn on December 29th. 

We had lunch with Letad’s cousins on the 30th and dinner with some of his closest friends that evening. Laughter was never far away and while we were reaching saturation point, we soldiered on valiantly.

By New Year’s Eve, we were feeling very toxic indeed. It was a party for two as we decided to stay in the little flat and watch the fireworks from the balcony. We listened to Gregorian cover versions of music from the 70s and 80s (best not to ask really) and at midnight, we had a private view of fireworks exploding all around the silhouetted London skyline. It was a perfect New Year’s Eve and we couldn’t have celebrated better.

New Year’s Day and we headed back to the scene of our first meeting. The Engineer pub in Primrose Hill. With a New Year’s brunch on the menu, it was a lovely, relaxed end to the week of gluttony as we shared delicious food and a final bottle of wine. 

After lunch we strolled along Regents Canal from the dodgy end in Camden through the nice part at the back of Regents Park and back into the dodgy bit in St John’s Wood. By that time we were getting cold, daylight was fading and it was time to head home.

Our last night together passed quickly and all too soon, Letad was gone. I waved furiously from the top window and then resigned myself to getting ready for work.

It had been the best Christmas holiday ever.

Happy Christmas

Father Christmas came to the little flat in Chalk Farm, ate a mince pie in the kitchen and has handwriting which looks a lot like Letad’s!

After lunch in Croydon with some of my favourite people yesterday, going to an incredibly moving Midnight Mass in Primrose Hill last night where I confess, tears were shed and waking up and having champagne for breakfast with the love of my life, it’s been a fantastic Christmas so far.

From Skype with my lovely parents, ringing my sister who had finished Christmas at 11:30am, and an email from my brother. messages on Facebook and the rest of the day to be spent with Letad’s family. It’s a day of love and friendship, my perfect idea of Christmas.

I’m thinking of all my dearest friends, in California, in Mexico, in Australia, in the UK and everywhere else I have people I care about.

Happy Christmas Everyone!

Making Pies

Having rashly offered to take mince pies along on Christmas Day, I’ve been spending an evening at home baking. 

Pies galore!

Thirty six mince pies later, I’m almost finished and I’m pleased to say that the results are pretty good. It must be said that I’m a Northerner and I strongly suspect that making pastry is in the blood. I’ve now decided to take some mince pies along to a Christmas Eve gathering as it’s pies galore here and to be honest I don’t think I can eat any more!

Tonight while I’ve been rolling out pastry, I’ve had a chance to reflect on the year past.

For the past few years I’ve written the Accomplishment List. At the end of each year I write down what I’ve accomplished that year, and I write the Accomplishment List for the coming year. In December 2011 my list for 2012 looked somewhat like this…

• Move to UK and rent short term flat
• Establish new career in UK/Europe
• Meet and fall in love with, a new man
• Consider getting a dog
• Financial goal – flexible while transitioning. Aim for £65,000
• Saving/spending – live sensibly while getting established
• Lose weight
• Get eating/diet back on track
• Exercise
• Maintain positive outlook
• Maintain old friends
• Develop and expand new friendships
• Qualify for mortgage
• Continue to learn french

With the exception of getting a dog and qualifying for a mortgage, I’ve done everything I set out to do this year.

I’m now busy writing my Accomplishment List for 2013 and on New Year’s Eve will spend some time reflecting on the year past and the year to come.

In the meantime, mince pie anyone?

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Saturday morning and with Christmas just around the corner, Letad and I set off into central London to go Christmas shopping. Big mistake!

At first we wandered around like deer in headlights. It was overwhelming. Then we focused, headed to Regents Street and hit Hamley’s, one of the biggest toy shops in the world. 

It was an absolute nightmare. Packed full of pre Christmas shoppers and lots of small excited children, we ended up in the Lego shop on the fifth floor. 

It was very hot, the ceilings were low, the decisions so hard. Which box? Roads, jumbo bucket, vehicles, railway tracks. Endless options and prices. After a very near meltdown and sweating profusely the decisions were made and we staggered down five flights of stairs, bags in hand and fell into the thronging crowds outside. 

Several shops later we had a sit down and a restoring hot chocolate while we gathered our breath and then set off for Selfridges. We dashed across Oxford Street and elbowed our way through hundreds of people all frantically shoving their way closer to Christmas.  

Mayhem and chaos. We made the mistake of going to the Selfridges food hall where we shuffled like cattle on their reluctant way to slaughter. 

Eventually we emerged on to the street beyond where we declared Christmas shopping was done and we deserved a glass of something bubbly and fun to recover from the ordeal.

Luckily Christmas shopping comes just once a year.

Living on Soup

It seems that I’m now living on soup. 

Soup for lunch, soup for dinner, soup, soup, soup and soup. It’s lucky I love soup as this is taking soup to a whole new level and makes the days of living on lentils look fairly luxurious. 

I’m now approaching the end of my first week as a London commuter and I’m going to admit, it’s been a hard week. I’m not used to getting the tube in rush hour (push, shove, elbow), I’m not used to the cold (cough, sneeze, brrr) and I’m facing challenges I’ve never faced before… 

As I battled down to the tube station this evening, an enthusiastic bagpiper honked out some Christmas carols. Somehow the bagpipes didn’t quite capture the festive spirit and there was a distinct lack of appreciation among the tired commuters.

I nodded in his direction, appreciated the kilt and full regalia, then shoved my way on to the tube and came home to eat soup and do some coughing.

Despite this week’s challenges, I’m in good spirits and am excited as Letad is coming here this weekend.



The £25 Morrisons Christmas tree is out of the box and installed in all its glory. Money well spent as far as I’m concerned.

Following are step-by-step instructions on how to assemble a very fake Christmas tree…

Step One: Open box, 
swear profusely at what looks like individual branches.
Step Two: Assemble base. Not too bad.
Step Three: Insert realistic looking branches into base. 
Realise that branches are not individual.
Step Four: Connect interlocking sections together 
Step Five: Separate individual “branches” for more realistic look 
Step Six: Hours later, tree looks almost real
Step Seven: Hide crap tree with as much stuff as possible. 
Just like a real tree, sweep up fake needles from floor.

From snow…

Saturday morning and with blue skies and winter sunshine, we decided to drive up into the mountains to see the first snow. 

Gourdon… Bennett

We passed Gourdon, a medieval village clinging to a sheer rock face, we passed by an ancient abbey and finally reached the snowline where snow-covered fir trees crowded together on the mountainsides making it hard to tell where the snow ended and the trees began.

Scenic waterfall
Reaching Greolieres Les Nieges we sat outside in the sun shielding our eyes from the glare and enjoyed the perfect hot chocolate. Not too sweet, it was the ideal drink to enjoy the winter scene before us while we sat and chatted comfortably. 

In the snow
Heading back to the coast we swapped fir trees for palm trees as we arrived in Nice for a late lunch and a little Christmas reconnaissance. 
Festivities… Nice
Not much Christmas shopping was accomplished although I did manage to buy another pair of wool tights, an essential item of clothing at the moment.

First Frost

Waking this morning, a sparkling white blanket covered the roof tops and the first frost had fallen. It’s my first full European winter in a very long time and it’s a far cry from a Californian winter where winter coats and flip flops are de rigueur.

Frost on the roof

After my bath, because frankly the shower is a pathetic dribble and one emerges colder than one enters, I dressed in wool. Wool tights (a cashmere blend of course) and a wool dress. I suspect I’ll be wearing a lot of wool in the next few months.

Across the roof

I’m looking forward to winter and hope it might even be a white Christmas. I’d love to wake up on Christmas morning to find the roof tops covered in a thick white blanket of magical snow with reindeer tracks!

Good news though, it’s warm and toasty in the little flat in Chalk Farm and I haven’t had to sleep in a hat… yet.