Christmas

This will be the fourth Christmas that we have spent abroad, two here in Spain and two in France several years back.

Spending Christmas away from home is an odd thing. All my internal reference points for the festive season are tied up with good old Blighty.

For me Christmas should be spent in the cold, preferably the snow (the picture above shows what my back garden looked like on the last Christmas that we spent in the UK)

Christmas shopping should be spent dashing from one shop to another trying to stay warm whilst muffled in hats, scarves and gloves.

It is about glasses of hot mulled wine and warm mince pies and roaring log fires.

Back in the UK I would have had the Christmas decorations up at the beginning of December, the tree groaning under the weight of all my sparkly and glittery baubles collected over the years. Here I have decorated the sleeping end of the caravan but won’t do the rest until Christmas Eve as otherwise Santa is in danger of being decapitated such is the fight for space!

In the UK I would have spent the day in Norwich with my best friend trying our best to do a passable impression of actually getting some shopping down but instead spending the day eating, drinking, gossiping and enjoying all the Christmas lights and cheer.

The shops here all look pretty and sparkly (I’ll have to take some photo’s) but its just not the same when you are walking around in t-shirt and sandals and there is none of the fervant rush of bodies in and out of shops that there is back home. Manana baby is definitely the order of the day here.

Being away from home at Christmas and all the trappings that go along with it means that we have to do things differently in order to not spend the time wistfully thinking of what we are missing.

Of course we still include some traditional features – this is me at the weekend when we slipped down to the beach with a flask and a mince pie to watch the sun go down and bask in the evening rays.

This Christmas will be a time for us to catch our breath and take a few days out. It will be time to reflect on our first full year of our ‘journey’ and to plan what comes next.

Much of Christmas morning will be spent on Skype with our families so we will still get to share in a little of Christmas from back home and then the rest of the day will be spent eating and chilling and enjoying the sunshine with not a hat or scarf in sight…..

I know it won’t feel the least bit like a UK Christmas but it will feel like our Christmas and I’ve come to accept that that’s ok…… 🙂

 

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Our Different Christmas

We know from living abroad before that you can’t recreate an English Christmas in a foreign country. It just doesn’t work so we knew that this Christmas was going to be and feel very different.

We decided that we would take 3 days off from Christmas Eve until Boxing Day and just go and do the things that we enjoy the most in those three days. For us this generally means getting out into the fresh air, walking and for hubby the most important factor – picnics!!

Christmas Eve saw us up bright and early to decorate the caravan, eat some mince pies and listen to some Christmas CD’s – all very traditional so far. Then we made up a picnic and headed off to find a little village called ‘Comares’ that is stuck up on top of one of the mountains behind us. Every night we look up at it from the campsite. The lights twinkle in the night sky and are so high up that you wonder just how anyone gets up there.

Christmas Eve was a perfect day, clear blue skies and sunshine so we knew the views would be stunning. It took about an hour to drive up, climbing and twisting along little lanes with ears popping every few minutes. We parked the car near the top of the village and got out to explore. It felt very old and medieval walking around the little streets. Once again we marveled at how fit you have to be to live in one of these villages as the alleyways are so steep and windy. Once at the top the views around us were as stunning as we had imagined and you could see straight out to the sea in one direction and across to the mountains in the other. We walked around for quite a while before making our way back to the car. As we got close we happened to look up and there were four eagles circling around overhead. We had read that they are quite common in this area but we never expected to see one let along four. They were amazing, just gliding around, never flapping their wings once, and sooooo big………

Back in the car we started to head off in search of a good picnic spot when we saw an old man and his donkey coming up the road. The donkey was laden down with sacks and bags just plodding along. I love donkeys and so out came the camera!! The man looked at us quite oddly as he went on his way.

Picnic over we headed back home to prepare for the following day.

Christmas morning dawned bright and sunny and after a hearty breakfast we got on the internet to talk to family back home via Skype. First up my parents and then one of my sister’s and her family. It was lovely to see my nephews who were full of excitement and been up for some hours it would seem. Then a chat with my best friend before we closed it all down and started to prepare lunch. We cracked open a bottle of champagne to get the celebrations going properly and enjoyed a day full of food, drink and relaxation. Perfect.

On Boxing Day we headed down to the beach and walked along the promenade for a few miles. Again it was a lovely sunny day and their were lots of people out and about, running, cycling and helping children with new bikes, roller skates and skate boards. Another picnic followed before we headed for the mountains and had another little walk around a reservoir. We parked up in a lovely wooded picnic area and laughed at the fact that there were loads of brick build bbq’s – health and safety back in the UK would have had a field day but here the attitude is more relaxed and it seems people are encouraged to enjoy the outdoors more.

So, we had a lovely few days enjoying the great outdoors with a smattering of festiveness added for good measure. Not our typical Christmas for sure but good fun just the same.  Here a some pictures of our exploits…..

Christmas decorations

Comares

Eagles and Donkeys

The Beach

The Lake

 

 

 

My Year in Pictures

As the year fast draws to a close I took a look back over the events of 2010. It’s been quite a year and I’ve had a lot of fun and giggles along the way. Here are just a few of my highlights….

We saw the New Year in with friends and then just made it home in time on New Year’s day before more snow descended. A pretty start to the year though….

Early February saw a visit from hubby’s sister and our two gorgeous nieces. A quick, icy blast around Southwold pier and then a well deserved hot chocolate in a warm, snug cafe…

Girlie night out

Annual Easter ‘jolly’ with my parents.

A few days in Brighton with my best friend…

20th Anniversary celebrations in Bruge, Belguim

Family get togethers..

Night’s away camping

Summer visitor’s

Abundant gardens

Spanish Madness

And finally Christmas ‘Fun in the Sun…..’

It’s been quite the year – can’t wait to see what next year brings……..What have you enjoyed most about 2010????

What a difference a year makes..

This time last year with two weeks to go until the big day, this was the view from my back garden. Fast forward to now and…..well I won’t torment you will more sunny pictures but today we went out and I had on a thin long-sleeved t-shirt and I was hot so you get the idea.

We have been here just over a month now which doesn’t seem possible at all and the build up to Christmas is just getting going. The Christmas decorations didn’t go up until the beginning of December which was refreshing as the shops were in full swing even before we left at the end of October back home.

Everywhere you go there are children being coerced into having their photo taken with Santa – some willingly and some definitely not so. They are also big on huge models of the Nativity scene. The one we saw today was massive and had the whole town of Bethlehem in it. Some things are the same as home – all the lights and decorations – although no trees in the shopping malls or any public places come to that – and some things are very different.

There are the usual aisles full of chocolates and toys and it is interesting to see what foods they traditionally eat over the festive period. Lots of cakes, wrapped sweets and sweet breads. The other thing they are also big on is their meats – not good for a veggie like me. They have whole areas set aside for great big legs of cured meats. It is quite gross and they even have their own special bags that they bring along to put them in. We passed someone coming out today who had four trotters stuck out from amongst all his shopping – yuck!! Needless to say we avoid that aisle like the plague.

I must say it really doesn’t feel much like Christmas to us. All our associations with the holiday season are for snow, roaring log fires and glasses of mulled wine. 27 degree sunshine like it was last week makes us think of sun tan lotion and summer holidays and not Father Christmas coming down the chimney – I mean we haven’t even got one of those!!!!

That said, we will be celebrating in our own way, decorating the caravan and spending the day in a food and drink induced stupor.

We are discovering lots about the Andalucia area that we like. We went up into the hills on Saturday looking for a farmers market that had promised organic produce. We went to a town called Antequera about 30 miles north of Malaga. The autoroute went through the mountains and then opened up to a vast plain. We were quite surprised that it was so flat given the mountain ranges around here. We weren’t expecting the town to be very big but were really surprised when we got there. It had a lot going on and was a really pretty town with quite a medieval feel to it. Apparently there has been a settlement there for some 5000 years dating back to the bronze age. We fell in love with it and with three campsites it is high on the list for the next stop off.

We are also about 60 – 80 miles away from the start of the Sierra Nevada mountains. In the summer there is plenty of walking, mountaineering and cycling to be done there and then over winter you have ski-ing. Neither of us has skied for a long time but we are both looking forward to reacquainting ourselves with the skill and this area is one of the highest in Europe and most snowsure with a ski season running from now until the end of March – April. Being so close means that we can head up there early in the morning, get in a days skiing and then head back to the coast for a beer by the sea in the evening. How cool is that??

So, I have a feeling that we may be spending a little longer in this area than we originally thought. Maybe not at this campsite but I don’t think we will be going far when we do move on.