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The Big O.E An epic adventure across the world, backpacker style :)

Full on Festive Season

UNITED KINGDOM | Sunday, 6 January 2008 | Views [609]

Draw your own conclusions :)

Draw your own conclusions :)

After a three month stint in France, we headed back to the Isle of Wight for Christmas and New Year to restock the travelling slush fund. Coming from the evergreen Cote D'Azur, England looked decidedly bleak, if not a tad depressing as our train rolled through the drab countryside and towns. Despite this, it felt really good to be in a country where I didn't need a few seconds to compose a sentence before I opened my mouth to speak.

With only two days to go until Christmas, we were straight into it when we arrived. After clearing out the amazing amount of out of date stuff that had accumulated in just the few months since we were last there, we set about preparing for our first major task - Christmas lunch with all the trimmings for 18. This was Christmas dinner, but not as we know it. Home made cranberry sauce, home made bread sauce, brussel sprouts, roast spuds, gravy, sausages, and home made chestnut stuffing filling up a turkey so large that you suspect that Sesame Street is wondering where Big Bird has disappeared to.

Christmas day started unexpectedly well, as despite being 12,000 miles from home, Santa managed to find us and fill our stocking with goodies. Food preparations went to plan and we even managed to find time to open our pressies from back home to find supplies of Whittaker's peanut slabs and marshmallow santas... bliss! Our vein of good fortune continued with the turkey, cooked to perfection of course, and everything else being ready bang on time.

The rest of Christmas day and Boxing day we had a bit of a breather. From then the run up to New Year shifted up a gear with several big days. Armed with a chainsaw, I started sorting out the first of a few problematic trees in the garden. Catherine meanwhile was kept busy indoors cooking and cleaning. In the absence of the normal cleaners, we were both roped in to give their 5 star holiday let a thorough clean during the change over between tenants, a task which seemed to drag on forever.

Fortunately Sean and Adro arrived just before New Year, and after a whirlwind tour of some local sights, were able to lend a hand in reproducing our Christmas lunch menu for a New Year's eve supper for 24. This was promptly followed by drinking games with shots of straight spirits - it was still three hours to midnight at this stage. In the interests of self preservation, these games were abandoned pretty quickly. Not before Sean had been forced to knock back a gin/tequila/milk concoction...nasty! Abundant bottles of French Red, dodgey dancing to 80's classics, party games and the singing in of Catherine's birthday cake saw us through to the New Year and obligatory slurred rendition of Auld Lang Syne. 

Feeling suprisingly good the next morning, we headed off to the New Year's day hunt meet. Immaculately turned out horses, riders and fox hounds trotted around from all directions, while the pack of cute wee beagles were shaking with excitment at the prospect of chasing a few hares. Afterwards, the now indomitable catering foursome set a new standard in mass catering laying on a shooting lunch for 30, before Sean and Adro headed off to catch the ferry home.

After the mass catering of New Year, things quietened right down. I spent more time sorting out trees, while Catherine managed to head out horse riding and sort out supplies to take back to France.

After encountering an immigration officer upon arrival in Gatwick who was certain we were up to no good, we were not looking forward to French immigration. This was because we knowingly did not have every little necessary bit of appropriate documentation. Fortunately the French guy we got was loaded up on something good, gleefully tearing up our landing cards and stamping the first suitable page of our passports. After expecting the worst, we couldn't believe our luck.

It certainly was an atypical Christmas and New Year, but the time in England made us really reflect on how dissatisfied we were with how things were progressing in France, especially with our jobs. We spent a good deal of time weighing up the pros and cons of going back versus moving on. With the case for and against being pretty even, we decided to stay where we are, but look into ways to make life better in France.

Tags: Culture

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