A lot has happened in the last few weeks and we’ve been very slack in doing a blog about it all. So here goes ….. *deep breath* ……
I decided at the start of December that I wanted to be part of the carols services at church this year, so I started going to the practices and thoroughly enjoyed being part of a choir again. The first carols service was on 11th December so I went down in the afternoon for a practice and then stayed afterwards for mince pies, while Adrian was at home with Ella. The next carols I took part in was with school/work. Each year a varying number of staff and students sing outside the local Waitrose, raising money for Children in Need. This year Ella came with me, but it was raining and very cold so she got a bit upset. We stood just inside the entrance so that we could still sing along, but had the warmth of the store, which made us both a lot happier.
Then before we knew it, the time had come to go and pick up Mum and Dad from the airport! We did all sorts of bits and pieces with them that first week. Mum came with me to the school carol service, which was very good. The Friday was the last day of term at school and my last official day as a teacher there, so I left Ella with Nanna and Poppa and went into school at about 11.15am. I went to the Yr 9 achievement assembly so I could see what my tutor group (they’ll always be mine) had been up to and then spent some time with them afterwards before they were dismissed for the holidays. After the students had gone, the staff all had Christmas lunch together and I was given a present from the Headteacher on behalf of the staff.
Probably the best day so far (apart form Christmas itself) was when we bought our Christmas tree. We’ve always loved buying our tree with Hilary and Andy and this year we got to share the tradition with Mum and Dad. We went to Hilary and Andy’s place in the morning to have croissants for breakfast (Emily & Oliver were there too) and then we all went in 2 cars to the tree place. Once we had chosen our tree, Andy & Oliver loaded it onto their car and we set off home. We spent the rest of the morning decorating it and getting ready for our Christmas tree party which started at 3pm. As always we had a lovely time with friends and it was nice for Mum and Dad to catch up with everyone again and meet some new people too.
The next day was the second of the carols services at church, again in the evening. This time Mum and Dad were able to come and watch me sing, which was really lovely.
Adrian finished work on the Tuesday before Christmas so we all caught the train into London with Ella to meet him after work. We spent the evening in London looking at the Christmas lights. We started in Trafalgar Square and then walked up to Oxford St, Regent St, Carnaby St, and back to the tube. From there we caught the tube to the other side of the river, where we wandered along the German Christmas markets that they had at Southbank. After eating our packed dinner and a scrumptious stick of marshmallows dipped in a chocolate fountain, we caught the tube to Harrods to see their display. By this point it was getting late so we headed home, but we all (Ella included) had a great night out.
Then on the Wednesday we went to the panto at the New Victoria Theatre. This year it was Peter Pan and was very funny. Ella enjoyed herself for most of it except one point where she got a bit restless (but was easily distracted) and another time where all the screaming and cheering from the audience scared her a bit. I mustn’t forget to say that before the panto started, we took Ella to Santa’s Grotto to meet Santa for the first time and have her photo taken with him. She wasn’t too sure what was going on, but didn’t cry, so I’ll take that as a win.
On Christmas Eve we baked our ham, made our pork apple and sage stuffing, and made the festive sherry trifle dessert. Then on Christmas Day we woke up and opened all our presents in the morning. Ella was quite impressed with all her new toys, not to mention the boxes and wrapping paper they came in – at one point she launched herself into the pile of wrapping paper! After we’d opened everything we all squeezed in the car to go to church. I led the singing and was amused to find out that the child I could hear snoring through the sermon was in fact Ella. After seeing some of our friends afterwards for a quick Christmas hug, we came home to cook the turkey, honey-glazed veggies, and baked potato & sweet potato. – our first hot Christmas lunch was a great success! After lunch we all played with Ella and her new toys and then had leftovers for dinner. As Christmas should be, we spent the day eating and playing 🙂
On Boxing Day we had a fairly quiet day, walking into town in the afternoon to buy a cable Adrian needed. We had a coffee/tea/hot chocolate at one of the cafes in town and Ella sat in their highchair, which she absolutely LOVED. That evening we watched Love Actually and realised that it’s been a long time since we’ve watched a movie, so will have to start doing it more often.
Yesterday we spent the day at Wanda and Alan’s place for another mini Christmas. We gave Ella her lunch at home and then went over, armed with presents, potato bake and mars bar slice. While lunch was cooking we exchanged gifts. They got Ella a gorgeous bead to go on the bracelet they gave her for her baptism. It is a love heart with the Union Jack on it, to remind her of her time in England. I got a lovely bracelet with all different red, black and silver beads. Adrian got a series of different shaped and sized boxes which took forever to get into – it was great entertainment for the rest of us, and turned out to be all sorts of chocolate, fudge, biscuits etc which he was instructed to share 🙂 We had a lovely lunch (as we always do at their place) and after lots of talking and playing with Ella we had a few rounds of Bananagrams (a game where you race against each other to build your own crossword grids). Because Dad was there with his camera, we managed to actually get some nice photos with them and Ella, and us too. We spend a lot of time with Wanda and Alan but never think to get any photos, so thanks Dad.
Today we had a quiet day and then in the afternoon I went to pick Laura up from the airport. Laura is a very good friend of mine from Oz who arrived today to start her adventure of living here for up to 2 years. She had managed to get herself a job at a primary school in Reading which is great. She had dinner with us and then I took her to the Holiday Inn up the road so she could get a good night’s sleep and then she’ll be staying here (in our loungeroom) while we help her find somewhere to live.
So, like I said at the start, a lot has been happening. I apologise for the huge blog, if you’re reading this then well done for getting to the end! We’ve put some photos up and will put some more up as we sort through them.