Christmas Week 1

What a wonderfully crazy few days it has been! I do feel incredibly lucky that I haven't had to work much. That wasn't how I planned it, just how it worked out, but I can't really complain.

I did work on Thursday. If you can even call it "work." I spent some time at the Science Museum in London with one of my NAS supportees. We spent a wonderful day exploring the museum, taking in a 3D show at the IMAX about rescued baby animals and having one of the most delicious lunches I've ever had at a museum. I know - my life is tough.

Friday it was back to London for Owen's day of Christmas surprises. Well, one of the surprises was kind of for himself, but it was enjoyable and well worth my gift - tickets to see the English National Ballet's production of The Nutcracker at the Coliseum.

 Some pictures of the very grand and beautiful Coliseum.

I used to dance in the Nutcracker when I was young, so it doesn't take much to get me excited about the show. Even so, this production completely exceeded any expectations I could have had. The dances were executed so perfectly and with such skill. Owen was amazed at how the women looked as if they were floating in the air during the lifts - they were SO smooth. And don't even get me started on the technical aspects! The scene that they created for the entrance of the party guests included an unbelievably realistic portrayal of snow, ice skaters on a "pond" in front of Clara's house and several layers of scenery, including a level in the back where children were throwing snowballs at one another. And the growing house in the middle of the night!

I was always quite proud of the production our company put on at Whiting Auditorium - and still am really (It's in Flint for all of you Michiganders. Go see it!) - but this was just beyond anything I could have imagined. Let me just say this, it was sponsored by Swarovski, and we'll leave it at that.

After The Nutcracker we attended a very funny comedy show at the Bloomsbury Theatre, called Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People. It was a series of 5 to 10 minute sets of stand-up, music and mini lectures/demonstrations revolving around science and general non-religion (See, I told you this bit wasn't really a gift for me...) It was, however, really entertaining. The demonstrations were fascinating, the songs hilarious and weird, and the comedy (for the most part) dead on. It was three and a half hours long, which was only exasperated by the fact that we had standing room only tickets, but it was well worth it. Any of you looking for something different to do next holiday season are urged to check this out.

 Owen and I gave in to sitting and leaning against a pillar.

Messing with my camera settings during the interval.

Owen in the theatre. Note the beginnings of his "arctic explorer's beard."

Saturday was Christmas eve day and aside from baking some cookies we did very little (baking post to come soon!). We did, however, go out in the evening, which is something that I am unaccustomed to. I'm used to spending Christmas eve with my family. Though, I do have such a big one that one day isn't enough to see everyone. In England, anyway, the Christmas eve tradition seems to be to go out with friends and drink until the early morning hours. I think it especially stems from young people who have come home to see family for Christmas and who take the opportunity to meet up with school friends that they haven't seen all year. It also wouldn't have made much sense for us to stay home as no one was in. It was fun anyway. All of the pubs were packed with festively dressed and seasonally "jolly" people. We didn't get home until one or two in the morning, but we weren't the last ones. And we passed out on the mattresses in the playroom and didn't wake up until 11:30 on Christmas morning.

The festivities continued on Christmas day. After a quick opening of the gifts around noon (clearly the days of waking up early are long gone), we all hurried to eat a light breakfast, shower and ready ourselves for the Christmas meal. We spent a lovely day with Owen's family and had a wonderful five course meal at his uncle's restaurant. It wasn't all that traditional, but who can complain when your starter is scallops wrapped in parma ham and your main is steak filet. Afterwards we returned to the house for some good old family games and more drinking. Someone was up past 3:00am dancing and finishing a bottle of wine. Alas, it wasn't me, but I'll let you guess who it was.

December the 26th brought Boxing Day - a day that is actually celebrated here in the United Kingdom and means another nationwide holiday. We spent boxing day with some more family in Hungerford. This included the tradition that I'm more used to - stuffing yourself on snacks before it's even time for dinner, eating way too much for the main meal and dessert....and then eating some more. It's kind of like a digestive marathon and it was almost too much for my stomach to keep up with yesterday. Nevertheless, I did survive and still managed to have a little something by lunchtime today. Where would we be without the traditions?

Today is yet ANOTHER day off. A bank holiday that usually comes on the Monday after Christmas, but as yesterday was Boxing Day, it was moved to today. It just means that I didn't have to work at the shop yesterday or today, but I'm still getting paid for both days. Result.

Looking forward to the next few days of holiday fun! My cousin and her boyfriend will be visiting, so I'm sure that there will be plenty more to write about in the new year. I hope that all of you had a wonderful Christmas (or holiday season), whoever you spent it with. Enjoy the last few days of December and have a fabulous New Year's Eve, wherever you are!



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