The weather was getting colder, the Christmas markets had sprung up and the chocolate bûche cakes were appearing in the patisseries. Yup, my very first winter Christmas was upon me. And what better way to celebrate than a pilgrimage to the Motherland: England here I come!
Rather ambitiously we decided to drive from the South of France up to the north of London and, to make it even more exciting/exhausting, we did it at night. So Saturday evening the four of us crammed all our luggage into the little BMW, filled up any remaining space with snacks, and we were off.
By 5am we’d made it to Calais, and after a bit of a standoff with the border control guy (he didn’t understand why my visa was lying dormant), we passed out on the ferry to Dover before arriving in the little village that would be our home for the next ten days.
On our second day in England we jumped on a train to London and set about a rather pub-crawl style of site-seeing. Oh man, I hadn’t had nice beer in probably a million years! Apart from the beer, other highlights included St Pauls Cathedral and The Tower of London. Plus discovering that the sun completely sets by 4:30… Crazy! This was when I parted ways with my France pals and crashed on the couch of a fellow NZer; where we drank more beers, visited the dinosaurs at the Natural History museum and just did a lot of sleeping.
Back in the countryside we prepared for Christmas dinner. My friend said we’d be making about forty pigs in blankets for the six of us who were there, so I began mentally preparing myself for the crazy, not very Christmas-y feat we were about to undertake. But surprise! Instead of sausages in bread we began wrapping tiny little sausages in bacon. What black magic is this??!! Surely forty will not be enough!!!!
Oh and did I forget to mention we did this thing??? What’s more Christmas-y than a chamber of high-speed air flinging you a million meters up into the sky and bringing you crashing back down again??
After a few days of Christmas feasting with various relatives (not mine), we headed back to London for more pubs and sites. This time we walked through Piccadilly Circus, China Town, Covent Garden, walked along the Themes, saw Big Ben, MI6, Buckingham Palace, Downing Street and Westminster Abbey. As well as selfy-stick spotting along the way (I must be the champion of the sport of selfy-stick spying).
On our final full day in England we took a trip up to Rugby to see the birthplace of… well… rugby. I didn’t realise it was invented by a bunch of schoolboys. Huh. But the real highlight of the day was heading over to Stratford on Avon to see the birthplace, home and final resting place of Shakespeare. The town itself is rather touristy (obviously) but was still super pretty and we were all pleasantly surprised. Now I’m really in the mood for a Shakespeare play! Too bad The Globe is closed over winter.
Being so far from home, it was super nice to be invited into another family for Christmas, and of course a bonus to explore a country I had never visited before. We didn’t have snow unfortunately, but some days were white with frost even at 3pm, so I’ll take that! Anyway our holiday wasn’t over yet. On to Paris for New Years!