December review

How fast did that month sashay by?  It was so steeped in a mulled wine blurry haze, full of sparkle, bubbles and laughter that I feel the need to do a December Review in order to commit the best bits to a blog post that I can enjoy in years to come. After all that worry about getting everything ready in time, sorting and wrapping presents, parties, food, over-indulgence, it’s all over and I wish I could swoop back over it and re-imprint some of the memories that the Bailey’s stole and enjoy some of the things we did all over again. The overall sum of the parts that made up our Christmas consists of a certain smell, a warm glow, lots of love and glitter and it’s an elixir that I would love to capture in a butterfly net, squish into a sealed bottle and save on a shelf.  Additionally advent calendar chocolates every day throughout December made it an especially great month.

Putting the usual financial and emotional stress of Christmas aside for a minute, even with older, less believing children, the family time we had together was joyful. This year, the children were only around until midday on Christmas day and then it was just me and my mother left, but thanks to some generous friends who invited us to join them, we all managed to appreciate the time we had together and create parties, little ones and big ones all over the place. The pleasure of spending time with all three of my children at the same time was immense even if it was brief and even when they were taking the piss out of my Father Christmas’s shit stocking I didn’t really mind, the enjoyment I got out of watching and listening to them interact and the pride that I felt when they spent their own time and money searching out meaningful presents for their siblings and their grandmother was huge.

Throughout the whole of December, there were some incredible highlights and in the spirit of Christmas, I’m going to record the best bits using The Twelve Days of Christmas as a guideline. Of course I missed my kids when they went to their dad’s and we all missed my two brothers and their families and especially we missed my father who has left a big gap in our lives, but because this year it was such a small team, I didn’t have to cook and I didn’t have to drive anywhere and of course, life, I have discovered, is all about the spin you put on it.  The perspective.  The lowering of expectations when required and on that basis, by far the very, very best bit of Christmas this year was not injuring or killing the very young boy who ran in front of my car as I was driving along our local high street. I had my mother and daughter in the car and managed to slam on the brakes and skid across the road without touching him, whilst he stood stock still, shocked and pale and being shouted at by random, horrified shoppers who could see what had just been avoided and were furious with him for putting himself in such danger. My mother spent the next three days talking about what Christmas would have been like for his family if it had all ended differently…..until I finally asked her to stop.

12 Days Of Christmas

“On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me….” actually my true love didn’t give me anything because I haven’t got a true love (and I’m not religious), so frankly the song isn’t going to work very well and I am likely to get increasingly stressed at each additional present my true love hasn’t sent me, so I won’t list the beginning of the song each time.

So, I will just use the number 12 and forget the rest – the 12 major highlights of December for me were:-

DAY 1

A day at Twickenham with my son to see England beat Australia in the rugby.  Enjoyed every minute despite having very little clue about the finer detail of the rules.  This day set the scene for what was to become one of the booziest on record, because we had a posh lunch followed by a pub crawl and a curry.  My friend didn’t remember going for curry.

Rugby pass

Clearly not the time to do a selfie when everyone else was focused on what was going on on the pitch and I look completely pissed!

Rugby selfie

DAY 2

My niece’s 5th birthday party. Very special. She wore a tiara.  I didn’t get a decent photo.

DAY 3

One of many walks in the park that I did with friends this month.  Also another super moon on display.

Supermoon photo a massive fail:-

Super moon

Lovely decorations in the park:-

Christmas bauble walk

Frosty park

Early morning walk/bench

Adams pond

DAY 4

Watched a film and then dinner with friends at Olympic Studio – we saw “Allied” with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard which was an interesting combination of surprisingly atrocious acting mixed with mesmerisingly appealing characters. I enjoyed it – in particular the outfits and the scenes in Casablanca.

DAY 5

An invite to the Houses of Parliament to catch up with Dr Max Graham and the latest updates from Space For Giants an international conservation charity focusing on African elephants and the landscapes they depend on.   Anna Friel has become one of their ambassadors, being another passionate elephant lover and from the following photos I am now planning what not to wear for when I next meet her and how best to stand and how not to take selfies.

Me & Anna Friel outside

Me & Anna Friel

Me at Houses of Parliament

DAY 6

Our Christmas book group. A very special reminder of how important this bunch of long standing great friends are to me.  We all still love the excuse of a book to meet up once a month for a catch up and had a great evening.

Christmas book group

DAY 7

Out for a Christmas meal with our Polish friend. It is basically lethal to go out drinking with Polish people.  They are worse than we are.  You have to not only drink flavoured vodka, but also cocktails and wine and anything else going.  She made me drink flavoured vodka out of a bottle on the train home which was not a good look and this basically set the scene for the decline in good behaviour for the remainder of the month. We went to a restaurant called Baltic near Waterloo. Excellent food and atmosphere.  Not cheap but I highly recommend it.

Baltic - porn star martinis

DAY 8

My firstborn son’s birthday celebration No’s 1 and 2.

His favourite cake, baked by my favourite store – Cook Food. This is carrot cake on another level:-

Cook carrot cake

Dinner at one of our favourite restaurant’s locally with just family. Popeseye Steakhouse. Very simple, low-key excellently cooked steak and chips. That’s it. No other choice, but the best steak in London. There are a few of them in London. My mother arrived to stay for Christmas a couple of days early so that she could join his birthday celebration too. But very sensibly for her she missed the big house party the weekend before – the one I said he couldn’t have. The one that involves every single glass in my house and about 70 of his closest friends:-

Empty cupboards

DAY 9

A night out at Pergola On The Roof – the winter version – Celebration No 3 for my son’s birthday. The decor was not as great as their summer version – I imagined it would be all blankets and outside heaters so that everyone could smoke and pretend they were apres skiing aboard. It’s a carpark roof so you need a bit of imagination, but instead we were hermetically sealed in, which I assume saves on heater bills, but spoils the atmosphere somewhat. Still, good fun though, just not as winterwonderlandish as I was expecting…but tbh no one cares what I think because I am far too old for their demographic and it’s still super popular with the beautiful people of London with queues around the block.  Excellent pop-up food options too:-

Me & R at Pergola

Pergola

Patty & Bun

DAY 10

A girls on tour visit to the cinema to see Moana the new Disney film with my mother, my daughter and my niece. FOUR GENERATIONS of women. How cool is that?  The film is really lovely to watch, with a great independent “you-go-girl” message to come away with. The animation is astonishing as ever and the songs very catchy (but probably not as catchy as the Frozen ones).  Wish I’d got a photo of the four of us there.  Must remember to do that soon.  Very special.

The below one my mother is going to kill me for – she put on my son’s shoes at some point late in the evening and oh did we laugh:-

Ma in R's shoes

DAY 11

Christmas Eve morning “Pie-lattes” class with my friends. A very quick, abbreviated version of Pilates before stuffing our face full of mince pies with brandy butter and mulled wine whilst wondering why our bodies haven’t done much improving this year. Then decorating the tree with my children in typical Christmas chaos style manner and the usual “It looks like someone’s thrown up on it” comment, which comes as no surprise when you do a rush job and then my fudge making tradition, which makes me miss my father…as that was always one of his most favourite parts of Xmas:-

Ivy in Wimbledon

fudge

DAY 12

The blurry bit…..Christmas eve dinner out at a local pub with the kids and lots of friends. Christmas Day morning with the children, my daughter making blinis and cutting up the salmon with a knife and fork so as not to have fishy fingers. Waking my son up 150 times because he got in at 2am and is hungover. Laughing as they open their disappointing stockings and swearing that will be the last year I ever do that. Overflowing paper and surprising presents.  Hugs and love as the children set off and our Christmas day afternoon with friends, followed by late night chats with my mother. Boxing Day lunch with my children already back and my brother and his family, Boxing day evening with friends and of course New Year’s Eve…all of these family and friends celebrations can be thrown into the last big fat day of fun. Because with lashings of Baileys and champagne all round, they swiftly merged into one big twinkly, hat wearing, present opening, face smiling, warm hugging, slightly swaying, bad dancing, sparkly blur and with my added dizziness still lurking around, it made it even more blurry and hard to walk in a straight line!

This photo sums up the joy of our Christmas experience and I loved nearly every minute.

Space hoppers

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