27 December 2011

an english country christmas

I'm spending a few days with the family I work for and their extended families at the country house they have. On Christmas Eve we all hung stockings on the main stairwell banister. Even I got one to hang. That was fun. My first ever Christmas stocking. I saw Father Christmas that evening in various shapes and forms around the banister.

My Christmas day began when I forced my body out of bed at 6am so I could go online to 'have Christmas' with MY family back home in Australia where most of them were gathering for a Christmas barbeque tea. It was lovely to spend a couple of hours chatting with video (when it worked), and three way conversations with my brother and his family still in Sydney. They waited to open my presents so I could watch which was really nice. It's one of my favourite Christmas traditions to sit around together opening presents. Eventually it was tea time for them and time to get dressed for me. We had an appointment to gather at the top of the stairs to check out our stockings!
They were fun and I got loads more than I expected. I mean, I never expected having a stocking at all but it was so stuffed that I had some presents on the floor underneath. I got a bunch of cool little knick-knacky things and some chocolate too. I wouldn't have minded just watching but this family is too hospitable for that. It was nice to be included. We went down for breakfast and then left for church. Unfortunately by this point my body was beginning to scream at me. Probably from the recent late nights and early Christmas start. I wasn't feeling so good, found it quite difficult to stay awake during the service though it helped that the sermon included four pass-the-parcel packages going around, a little nauseous and generally exhausted. I went straight to bed when we got home. My boss came and knocked on my door when lunch was ready but I still didn't feel like getting up so I ended up skipping lunch. After 2-3hrs in bed I felt a bit better so went down and nibbled a bit of left overs as they cleaned up from lunch. Bit of a pity to miss the main event of the day but I was glad that a long rest made me feel much better. I was still a bit weary so took it easy and drank water more often than I usually do.
We sat around in one of the lavishly decorated rooms with a little fire going. After a while a quiz box came out and we were answering questions that were read out. That was fun. Made me feel right at home too. It's one of the things I enjoy doing with my family on the odd occasions we do it. I got a number of questions right. There was also plenty I had no idea what the answer was. And I excitedly announced the answer (with some armraising for cheer) to the question, 'In which country do you find the Barossa Valley?' With the sons telling my boss' mum to relax and go with the flow, we were quizzed for quite sometime before we moved on with the next planned Christmas tradition. The lighting of the Christmas tree. Their huge tree, wonderfully decorated in silver and white, also had candles clipped to various branches. Real ones soon lit with real flame. Another first experience for me. They sung a french Christmas carol (my boss' mum is french) and then some english ones.

Shortly after this was present time which lasted for a long time. There were loads of presents every where. The boy absolutely loved his presents and was thrilled after getting a whole five presents and being consumed with playing with them that his other 20 presents were put on hold for the following days. It was wonderful watching them open presents. I always enjoy this part. This family reacted so exuberantly to each one it was delight to share in. The presents were also a bit more lavish than the kind I'm used to seeing passed around. Amongst all this I got three presents myself. I knew my boss had some more for me. (She'd already given me a ticketmaster gift card a few weeks earlier so I could book in to see a show.) But I also got presents from her parents and her husband's mum. So very thoughtful and kind. Eventually this was followed by tea. Meals have been much later than I usually have them. Tea doesn't usually start until 8pm and that's actually predinner drinks. So by the time we have entree, main, dessert and after dinner coffee there's not much evening left. But they are all good company and it's been very pleasant and entertaining to be amongst them.

Boxing Day mid morning I joined them for a trudge across the muddy fields to where they'd set up to do some clay pigeon shooting. That was interesting to see live. I stood with everyone else for most of it watching the shooters hit and miss.

I then helped collect some of the clay pigeons that had been missed and survived the landing and scooted up the hillside and jumped the haybales as they did a launcher swap. I actually had a bit more fun watching one brother load the launcher and fire it, especially when his brother was shooting. He he. Rivalry. It was fun to see the clay pigeons shatter in mid air after the bang. Most were quite good shots. It felt like quite an english experience too.

The rest of the time was mostly filled with chatting, eating, drinking and occasionally playing with the boy and his new toys. All very relaxing and I've been very well looked after and welcomed here. A very pleasant english country Christmas.

23 December 2011


One for me!

Last weekend was book club. We had tea together at one of the girls houses and talked about the book for the briefest amount of time. Yeah, we don't ever talk about the book for that long but this time we did less. But the main event--aside from the food and wine and chat--was a trip to Winter Wonderland. We walked along Oxford St to see all the lights and then down to Hyde Park Corner. I must admit, I was a little disappointed. I'm not sure why, perhaps the phrase usage in songs and movies, but it was NOTHING like I expected. I was thinking snow, ice sculptures and other wintery stuff though I was unsure how it would work being that it's not really cold enough outside for snow to stay.

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is a fair. A show with rides and games and food and markets. We got there too late as well so there wasn't much we could do other than walk around. The ticket booths were closed so no rides or games. We did stop and have some hot mulled wine though which I liked. It made me feel like I was drinking apple pie. The night was still quite good coz the company was. :)

One for the boy!

This week, with the boy on holidays from nursery school, we invited his friend and nanny to go on a trip with us to the Museum of Natural History. Both boys have recently got into dinosaurs so we caught the bus (after it eventually came) and went straight to the dinosaur display.

They were a little scared at first with huge skeletal displays but they had such a great time. There was loads to see and even some animated robotic ones (with 'skin' on). The T-rex was a little frightening too. The boy kept saying he didn't want to get bitten so I picked him up and told him it won't coz it's just a robot. Dinosaurs aren't alive anymore. I think a big part of the fun was walking around exploring. Free roaming with so many different things to see.
We went through the mammal display too. I was quite impressed with the life-size whale display. I mean, I know they are big but to see it up close...it's so huge! We also had the special treat of buying lunch in the cafe. Sandwich and crisps (that's a packet of chips). And that was also to keep us nannies sane before the bus ride home. ;)

Next up is Christmas. I'm on holidays already until 2012. I'm spending Christmas with the family at the country house and then hanging out in London. Hope you all have a good one full of wonderful laughter and great company.

11 December 2011

pictures from home

I was wonderfully surprised to find three parcels in the mail yesterday, all addressed to me! Best of all was the one that wasn't something I ordered. ;)

It was a Christmas present from my sister which is sitting on my window sill while I work on getting it all Christmasy. I think I'll open it early since I know what it is. . .having chosen the yarn for her to weave. Included in the parcel though was the most delightful pictures I've seen in months. Yes, mostly scribbles but being away from home missing my sister's little ones growing up, receiving some drawings from them is the highlight of my week.
I was laughing and most impressed with my 4yo nephew's drawing. He's getting really good. Such a detailed picture with lots of imagination. I love it. The best part was reading the huge description my sister wrote on the back of his explaination. It's all about fighting monsters in the tavern protecting the innkeeper. Swordfights, the big flying boss, a special red bubble that makes monsters inside it fight each other, axes, bashers... My nephew is the squarehead who is healing the zapping tower. Such a little gamer. He he he.

06 December 2011

piano soho

Saturday night I went to Soho in London to a bar called Piano. I quite liked it. It had a great atmosphere except by the end of the night it was so packed it was difficult to move any direction. It has a cool jazz bar feel to it. Live pianist playing. This night I think it was Bazz Norton who is the guy who started it up. I liked the silver balls hanging over the bar and the keyboard on the wall and definitely the music which was jazz when I got there and other hits later. It's always nice having live music and Bazz was great. Each song just rolled into the next.
I'm not sure if New Zealanders are welcome though.

I went to help celebrate a friend's 30th birthday. (B'day girl in red) We just hung out, talked...rather shouted with each other, had some drinks, some of us had some food, bit of laughing, lots of photos...the typical fun stuff. My 'dessert' was a Mudslide. Yum! Delicious cocktail. It was a good evening and I'd happily go back to Piano too.

01 December 2011

doing nothing

I was just looking through this website and reading a list of things to do with kids indoors other than tv. One of the suggestions was NOTHING. I like the writer's point. :) Not that it's one that can be used all the time. Though I more than suspect this is often used by a lot a parents already. Just not so strategically.

It says:

"Boredom is good for kids. Children are seldom truly bored; they just haven't excercised that part of the brain that uses their imagination. Make a rule that if your kid announces they're bored, they'll have to do chores. So if they truly can't think of anything off-hand to do, eventually they'll think of something.

It's a good lesson to learn that life is not always entertaining, and that they're not the centre of attention. And if you've got a typical home, there's actually plenty they can do. So don't feel like you always have to provide options and events for your children. They'll be just fine exercising their brain."

Check out the other ideas listed here.