This year I’m going to be lucky enough to enjoy Christmas with two families, in two countries, in two hemispheres. December the 25th will be spent in Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia – Adam and I will be in our old home and we’ll share a festive meal with some of his distant family that live in town.
Our English family wanted to celebrate with us though before we flew back to Australia, so on December 3rd we had ‘early Christmas’…
Sometimes it feels like good news is hard to come by. Every time you switch on a television, log onto a computer, listen to the radio or open a newspaper there are tales of death, destruction and dire circumstances. Sometimes though, stories of celebration, of love and new life shine through the doom and gloom and it’s so nice celebrate them.
I had the privlege of attending my first English wedding at the weekend. Adam’s mum got remarried and it so lovely to be a part of the celebrations.
Whenever I think about an English wedding, it’s always Four Weddings and Funeral that comes to mind. Historic stone churches, top hats and tails and a young Hugh Grant. This wedding was a little different. There was no church, no men in fancy hats (but there were a few ladies in fabulous fascinators!) and no Hugh. It was refreshingly real.
I find there are two sorts of people in life – those who love wrapping presents and those who’ll happily pawn the task off to others. I’m in the first camp. As a child growing up my mum was always pretty particular about the styling of her Christmas tree. Gifts had to coordinate with the tree and a general colour scheme was adopted every year. I have fond memories of the two of us sitting on the floor in the family lounge room surrounded by rolls of paper and boxes of ribbons and bows, televised Christmas carol special on in background, wrapping presents in the days leading up to December the 25th.
It’s a tradition I continue to keep and over the last few weeks I’ve seen countless images on Instagram and Pinterest of fresh foliage adorning beautifully boxed presents. As it’s so warm in Australia around Christmas, adding a sprig of spruce as part of the wrapping process never really crossed my mind. This year however, I decided to use harness that inspiration and try it myself!
I raided the garden at the front of Adam and my apartment finding holly leaves and a large shrub with red berries, which I believe is cotoneaster horizontalis (budding gardeners, is that right?!) and got busy!
Last week I celebrated my birthday and as part of his gift to me Adam bought us National Trust membership. I’d been ogling at some of the properties the Trust owns in the lead-up to our departure from Australia and we recently had a wonderful stay in a National Trust cottage in the Lake District, so I was thoroughly chuffed at the present.
After a scan of the thick book of attractions that was sent to us, we quickly decided to head to a property about a 20 minute drive from Malvern, Croome – which for many years was the home of the Earls of Coventry and more recently the site of a secret World War Two airbase, RAF Defford.
The main house is stunning and I must confess I immediately felt like I’d stepped onto the set of a Downton Abbey episode!
Is it just me, or do special occasions often make you think about life? The past, the present and what’s happening right now. Today is my birthday, the first I’ve celebrated abroad (!), and this week I’ve been spending a lot of time just thinking about how much has changed since December last year.
Twelve months ago I was getting ready to host my family for Christmas in Wagga Wagga. This year I’ll be with Adam’s family in England. It still seems slightly surreal that I’m here, in the UK… and not on holiday! I’m still pinching myself, realising this is now my every day.
One of the first purchases Adam and I wanted to make when we moved into our new home was a Christmas tree. When Adam was growing up he fondly remembers going to the Leigh Sinton Christmas tree farm, just north of Malvern – the trees are so well regarded they’ve even been used outside of the British Prime Minister’s house at 10 Downing Street!
I’ve only ever had a ‘real life’ Christmas tree once before at my brother’s house in Canberra. Growing up in tropical Queensland, humid summers and fir trees just don’t mix, so we always had a fake tree.
I was amazed at the huge variety of trees available…
I can’t believe it’s almost four weeks since Adam and I arrived in Malvern – the days are just flying by! I had the sniffles at the start of the week, so that combined with a few very rainy days has curtailed my exploration of the countryside.
I’ve been using the downtime to think about Christmas – which will be pretty special this year, as it’ll be my first ‘winter’ festive season.