We spent Christmas together this year, just the two of us in San Francisco. For the first eight years together we went our separate ways for Christmas, it was the easiest thing to do, I saw my family, he his. Sometimes we might visit the other one after Christmas and before New Year but in the main we kept things as they had always been.
The last two years have been different. Last year we were in DC, sharing Indian takeaway with friends. This year we were on holiday, our first holiday which was longer than 4 days since probably last Christmas. It was a quiet affair, the weather in San Francisco was horrid, truly truly horrid and so we didn’t have much of a desire to get out and about. Instead we made one foray to the restaurant for lunch and then spent the rest of the day relaxing, I even squeezed in a two hour nap.
Lunch was dim sum, a big departure from the more traditional Christmas fare, and certainly no pudding, Brussels sprouts or even Port. In some ways it was good to be doing something so different, it made it less odd to be so far away and just the two of us.
As much as it was lovely to be spending the time together and having a very relaxed time, having done things differently for two years I now feel ready to return to more traditional ways and to sharing it with family as well as friends. At some point J and I will get to build our family traditions for Christmas, thankfully this shouldn’t be too contentious as both families are relatively aligned. In the meantime however, I will look forward to next year knowing that it will again be different from the last two but familiar too.
On our last Thanksgiving in the US (until the next one we spend over here…) I am thankful for:
- My husband, for sharing his life with me and being an absolute rock of support and love
- My family, for their understanding, patience and support
- My friends, both those who I have grown to love dearly in Washington, DC and those I am returning to rekindle my friendships with in London
- All of you who read this blog and who chatter with me on Twitter and Instagram!
There are many more things I am thankful for, however for now I will keep it brief. Being reminded to think about all you have and all that it gives you is very special. I shall certainly try and bring this celebration back to the UK and to make sure I spend that one day thinking extra hard about all I have and how lucky I am to be where I am and surrounded by so many special people.
Sending good wishes your way, eat, drink, be merry and enjoy an afternoon nap if you can!
Work took me to Australia in August, which was wonderful as it meant I got to see my sister and family. I also got to see koalas, wombats, kangaroos and all sorts of cute Australian wildlife.
I’ve always loved wombats, we had a book as children called “The Muddle Headed Wombat” which was one of my favourites growing up.
I started out in Brisbane, for a small city it has excellent shopping and is very picturesque with its river setting.
We managed to sneak away to the beach one day, J enjoyed throwing himself straight into the sea. I enjoyed watching my niece and nephew have fun in the sand and sea.
We also managed to get out into the bush, the sound of being woken by laughing kookaburras is really quite special. They’re also a beautiful bird and watching them, the parakeets and the cockatoos all flying around was fabulous.
I then headed over to Perth for the next part of my work trip. I was actually staying and working in Fremantle so didn’t get to see much of Perth but I did manage a trip along the Swan River to enjoy seeing the city and all the surrounds. Not a city I would rush to return to but I’m glad I went there.
One of the things I love about Australia is seeing all the plants that were in the books I grew up with. My mama is Australian and as Granny was in Australia she used to send us across Australian children’s books. “Snugglepot and Cuddlepie” was one of my favourite ever books and I still look at Banksia plants and see the evil Banksia men.
A very quick turn around after Australia and we were off again, this time heading home, to return to my home and see one of my best friends get married. It was a beautiful wedding and they were blessed with glorious weather. N did an amazing job organising it all with all the details carefully thought out and wonderfully bought to fruition.
I still feel very lucky that we were able to fly back for her wedding and were able to share that day with N and her husband. Plus of course it was lovely seeing both sets of parents and actually relaxing a little!
It’s my birthday tomorrow, another year passed already! This time last year J and I headed up to NYC for the weekend, for dinner at the Gramercy Tavern, a walk along the highline and general soaking up of NYC, it was really rather lovely.
This year we’re in Australia! Celebrating with my sister and her family. My brother-in-law shares the same birthday so it will be a double celebration tomorrow. I feel incredibly lucky to have spent my last two birthdays celebrating in different places to those I grew up in.
J and I were commenting only yesterday how lucky we are to travel so much, and we seem to have been given an extra dose of luckiness this year. A chance to see my sister, brother-in-law, nephew and niece now, opportunities to return to celebrate with bestest of friends in May and July and visiting a new country, South Africa, in June.
So tomorrow we shall be celebrating making it to the other side of the world, being with family and the passing of another year. I do wonder what the next year will hold but I feel hopeful for it. Hopeful that with J, my family and my friends at my side it’ll be a good year. Onwards dear friends, onwards.
I’ve just got back from a work trip to Europe, I managed to combine it with popping over to England to go to a wedding and then surprised my mama for her birthday. It was rather lovely. During my brief trip I went for a walk with my parents, we were lucky, the sun was shining and spring was beginning to show its face. It reminded me how beautiful England can be and how nice it is to tramp around in the countryside and see life beginning to get going again with the longer warmer days.
I know a lot of people are doing these posts and I’m late but selfishly I want to do one, if only so I can look back and say, yes, 2011 was the year I…
Came back to the US in January after an amazing holiday and realised that this was for real, that we lived here and that I needed to get on with it and *be* here
Found a job which I really like, after taking a temping job to get me back in the swing of things
Returned to the UK in May for a wonderful wedding and an amazing time with good friends
Experienced my first ever DC summer, quite the sticky humid experience. But lovely too to get a summer! I think I even got a bit of a tan
Returned to the UK with J for four weeks, seeing my mama and papa and sisters (both the one from Oz and the one in the UK) and all my nieces and nephews
A quick about turn in the US then back to the UK for five and a half weeks without J, that was hard
Our first Christmas together and then a visit from J’s parents to celebrate New Year
We hosted our first house party in the US and it was good! At least we enjoyed ourselves 😉
This was an odd year for holidays, we went abroad but we didn’t ever really go somewhere just the two of us and relax. I did my first trip to Massachusetts and also ticked off Nevada, Arizona and California. We went back to the UK and as much as it is wonderful being back it can be a little stressful, I’m sure those of you who live away from family will know how hard it can be catching time with everyone and squeezing as much as possible out of the given time.
It’s been a good year in the main, three good friends getting married, four good friends getting engaged, pregnancies being announced and lots going on. I feel good about 2012 though. More so than I did about 2011. Partly I’m more settled in the US, much happier here than I was before, I have good friends here now and a good job. Things with J are stronger, working through everything has built more solid foundations for continuing to build our lives together.
I’m hoping therefore that 2012 can be perhaps a more fun year, one with a little travel, one with some entertaining, one with friends old and new. Without some of trials we came through at the beginning of last year to face and overcome.
This year is the first year J and I will spend Christmas together. It is also the first year for me to not spend Christmas in the UK with my family. So it’s a year of firsts, a year where we can forge new traditions which are ours and we can be just the two of us and think about the future and where we want to go.
It is also a year where since we are not spending it with others we are avoiding a lot of present buying. For example this year we’re not buying each other Christmas presents. I have bought gifts for the nieces and nephew but my sisters, parents, in-laws, etc no gifts.
It’s rather wonderful. Not only do we save money but so do others and we also save giving and getting stuff which is nice but not needed and thus fills up either ours or someone elses house.
Don’t get me wrong, I love buying gifts, well chosen, thought out ones, but I like having time to do this. Hence why I enjoy buying birthday presents, they are thankfully a little more spread out throughout the year. But presents for presents sake is something I’m a lot less on board with.
Partly perhaps it’s an age thing, I have most stuff I really need and I don’t have kids so I don’t have people to really get excited about the gift giving bit of Christmas. Partly it’s also that I have been trying a little this year to limit my spending so much, to avoid so much general consumerism and to be a little more environmentally friendly. Still no way near enough I’m sure but every little helps.
I’m sure this will change so this year I shall enjoy a Christmas focused on spending time with my loved one, contacting other loved ones round the world and stuffing myself silly.
When I was back in the UK in September my big sister was also visiting. She also lives overseas. So I got to see both my nieces and my nephew and of course my sister and borther-in-law. Not only was it wonderful to see them but it also gave us an excuse to explore the area we grew up in afresh. Near where I grew up is a picture perfect town called Bibury. It is the epitome of a classic Cotswolds village and it was so lovely to stroll around it in the autumnal sunshine.
It has a beautiful river flowing through it, plenty of chances to watch the swans glide by and observe the ducks quacking for food.
And then there’s the trout farm, where you get to feed the fish and watch them go crazy and leap out of the water to be fed. I never imagined that could entertain me for quite so long but it can…
If you’re ever in the Cotswolds I would highly recommend a visit to Bibury and if you’ve never been to the Cotswolds then go, it’s beautiful, even if I am slightly biased 😉
I’m back in the UK and realised I’ve been a little AWOL. So a short apology for my absence, I’ve been catching up with friends, seeing family and working too, things will go back to normal soon I’m sure and then I’ll be back. In the meantime some apples from my parents back garden, yummy juicy, sharply sweet apples. x
As much as going home made me realise what I missed even more it also made me think about changing the way I think about and approach being here. I loved my time back in England but I also realised that right now that’s not where life is. My life is here in Washington, DC and I can either try and make the most of being here or I can let it pass me by wishing for something else.
Things are good, mostly, but things are generally only mostly good, that’s just balance right? Plus there are opportunities, my job is good, it’s interesting and challenging. Learning about America is still intriguing me and I think growing me as a person. The opportunities we have here (like going to California for 2 nights) are ones we wouldn’t have in the UK.
I was sad to leave, so sad sat on the plane, but glad to be back, glad to really know what I have at home, how much I treasure it and more aware of being in the moment here and making the most of it so I don’t regret it when we come back.