An English Christmas: 2013

21 Dec 2013 - Day 0.5 Arrived in England. Nearly missed transfer flight to Heathrow due to significant delay for unknown reasons in Indianapolis. Joel enjoyed several movies along the way over the Atlantic, his mirthful laughter intermittently awakening me & Emma. Had a not-entirely-by-chance meet-up for lunch with Emma's dad at Heathrow and then had a very pleasant journey to Tolpuddle with Sophie, ending the day at Cob Cottage, part of a 500 year old building where we will enjoy Christmas, 2013. DSC_1049

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22 Dec 2013.  Day 1 Slept in today to remove the remains of jet lag. CeeCee & John took us to the Jurassic Coast and we enjoyed our re-introduction to the English countryside as well as to the scenic coast. Joel explored for fossils. Lunch at a pub and another beach stroll concluded our journey. Yes, there was indeed sun and blue sky today. A fantastic first full day.

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23 Dec 2013. Day 2 Blustery, rainy, and windy weather persisted all day and continues into the night. Does this even have any impact on the daily routine of people here? Apparently not. A drive to Dorchester and damp shopping was the main activity of today. Despite the weather, I think we all had a memorable time. Or, perhaps it was memorable because of the weather... All ended well with a cozy dinner, a fire, and of course a full-family viewing of A Christmas Vacation - a nice way to spend Little Christmas Eve.

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24 December 2013. Day 3 Joel has been enjoying his holiday with the gift of extra game time. He has read through just about all the books he's brought along. Today we drove to a nearby castle, Corfe Castle and enjoyed the views, the history, and even some hail. Apparently Corfe Castle was designed by Joel's great (x30) grandfather, William the Conquerer, not too long after the Battle of Hastings. This personal connection obviously made it a special trip for him! After our return to Cob Cottage, I enjoyed a few minutes strolling down our street in Tolpuddle, a town with its own particular moments in history. I'll be preparing my limited version of Wigilia dinner for our English hosts today, without the opłatek Today I was fortunate to be able to successfully take several worthwhile photographs, many of which are below.

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25 December 2013: Day 4 Our Christmas celebration actually began the night before when, during a miraculous clearing of the sky, we were able to witness a blazing Sleigh traverse the English heavens, in a pattern surprisingly similar to the International Space Station's orbit. This morning began with Joel opening a stocking full of goodies, a light breakfast, then Christmas Communion Service at Tolpuddle's St. John's Church (images below). This was followed by some furious, short-lived present opening, then some furious and not-so-short-lived meal preparations by Auntie CeeCee. During the afternoon, Emma and I took Rufus the dog for a refreshing countryside walk on the outskirts of Tolpuddle (images also below). Christmas dinner was amazing, as expected, with traditional fare that we decided is quite similar to but NOT the same as American Thanksgiving. We ended with English Christmas pudding, a trifle, and gluten-free shortbread just for Joel (no images below). Happy Christmas!

(Please note, the frequent weather changes in the images above are real and they are indeed all from today.)

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26 December 2013: Day 5

Boxing Day. Woke up to clear blue sky and took advantage by going on another walk. We followed a route found on the website for the local pub, enjoying a 3.5 mile venture south of Tolpuddle (map below).

Joel came with us, intrigued by the opportunity to continue building on his collection of "cool rocks." His coat weighed an extra pound or two by the time we got back to the cottage.

Today I chose to "develop" some of my pictures in black and white. Some of the images turned out all right.

For Boxing Day, several of John's family came to visit. We were entertained by the antics of Harry, John's 2 year old grand-nephew. Some were also entertained by Emma's antics as she wouldn't let anyone else play with Lego while she built herself a new model home.

Later, Joel got upset that he wasn't smart enough to win "Sort It Out," a boardgame he played with three adults. I won't say how his cousin Sophie felt about her fourth place finish.

Tomorrow we leave Tolpuddle for London and we'll prepare for the flight home on Saturday. Joel will miss his friend Rufus.

~ 27 December 2013, Day 6 Today we left Cob Cottage and Tolpuddle. We made a stop at Stonehenge, made a brief tour around the site, took some pictures, and headed to Leatherhead outside London to visit with Emma's great-aunt Poppet. From there Sophie drove us to our hotel outside Heathrow airport where we shared dinner and said our good-byes. Thank you, Sophie, for the ride to and from the airport. Home tomorrow. It's been too quick of a stay here, as it always is...  

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28 December, 2013: Day 7

Spent the night at Jury Inn just outside Heathrow. Made it to the airport this morning in one piece but found very long lines. Then discovered we could choose an alternate line specific for North America, which we did and made it through very quickly. Now, waiting for Emma to finish her candy shopping and magazine browsing before boarding for home.

Off we go...