Wednesday, 21 December 2011

It's Christmas time

A place to sit and reminisce! This was from last week
when we met up with our long term friends
Well it's Boxing Day and our time in England is nearly up (for my worldwide friends Boxing Day is the day after Christmas day and there are various reasons for calling that, but I'll let you google it) . Our son has done a stirling job of keeping the parents amused and transported us hither and thither. It has been a good time with much reminiscing and many silly jokes. Put Ian and our children together and the jokes start to fly and you have to watch particularly for the low level jokes or you might get hit. The banter can be quite bewildering at times for those not used to it, for instance Happy Christmas became Apple Crumble - naturally! As it does! I think the reminiscing is so important though, in our family, as it binds the family together and reinforces the oral history of the family, bits get added as different members of the family remember different parts of the story until we have a whole story from many different angles. It was lovely to know that the time we spent putting up Christmas decorations on Christmas Eve after the kids went to bed many years ago was appreciated by at least one member of the family, as our son said it looked magical on Christmas morning. That tradition stopped though as the children got older and the bedtimes later and then they began to do the decorating themselves - well it kept them busy and amused on the day before Christmas.

Ian and his new friend
I mentioned last week that it was a bit of a cultural shock coming to a busy place after the quiet of our home in Latvia, but it has also made me realise how busy life is in the UK generally. Our life might seem busy at times and certainly some of our work has to be done at specific times - if the weather is good in July/August the hay has to be got in, there is no waiting around for a more convenient time, but that does not mean we have to rush about all the time. Life for us now is at a measured pace, we have time to take in the peace of the countryside, the sheer stillness of life in Latvia at times. We can gaze at the numerous stars on a clear cloudless night, because there is so little light pollution and if you are anything like us we find that awe inspiring. We have time to gaze at the pond life in our ponds, time to watch the neighbours children playing outside (so lovely to see children playing around getting fresh air and exercise without being cooped up on a playstation or something similar) and time to marvel at the infinite variety of creation as we sip our drinks. It is funny how modern life with all its labour saving equipment has often sapped the time to gaze and marvel, sapped our times to sit and reminisce and time to enjoy family and friends.

Ian prepared for the 3D film in his special
3D glasses
As I said we have had a lot of time with our son and his wife of just over a year, it has been lovely. We have been out for walks on the Downs  and in some nearby villages- sorry forgot to take photos of that, I have been to a Zumba session with my daughter-in-law and I am pleased to say there are definitely no photos of that. For those who have no idea what Zumba is, then it seems to be a bit of a cross between traditional keep fit with a bit of spanish dancing and belly dancing thrown in and so you should be eternally grateful there are no photos of me attempting that. It was good fun though and I was surprised to last a 3/4 hour session and not be too sore the next day. They also took us to see "Puss in Boots" in 3D at the cinema, definitely a film for cat lovers and amazing to watch with the 3D special effects. It was funny to see all those little quirks of cats included in the film and the thoroughly cheesy story line - just right for a bit of fun close to Christmas. The film reminded us of our kittens back home and so it was lovely the day after watching the film to have an email from our cat sitter telling us the kittens were fine and being well looked after.

Such a lovely range of natural colours
We also took the time to go and see an Alpaca farm and they were lovely. The alpacas are curious animals but we were especially privileged to have many of them coming up close and letting us scratch their necks under their chins. One particular alpaca took rather a fancy to Ian though and we joked for the rest of the week about his elevation to the heady heights of being an alpaca pin up. They certainly seem the right sort of animal for us, there were some llamas there too but they kind of towered above me (okay not hard I know), but I think it would take more time to get used to them. The alpacas are quiet, gentle moochy sort of animals and very quiet. It was quite extraordinary to see so many animals and not to hear much noise. We will definitely look at getting three next year and learn how to handle them and find out how to care for them before possibly embarking on breeding them.

Ian's fathers' day present. He enjoyed putting this together
Another thing I have noticed in England is the change in dress sense over the years. Once upon a time if you went to a shop like Marks and Spencers, Debenhams or British Home Stores you could be guaranteed to find some smart clothes for work, instead this time I had to go to quite a large Marks and Spencers store before finding some smart trousers so I can interview people for my project and look smart and professional. The range of clothes tended to be casual rather than smart. The problem is that I am definitely more apple shaped than Latvians and the cut of clothes found in the UK is more likely to suit my style than in Latvia, however, Latvians do know how to dress up. I found this in Denmark too, on the whole the Danes will dress casually but even then it could be very smart casual, not what I would call slouchy casual as in the UK. On special occasions the really smart clothes would come out in Denmark though and I am not sure if that is so much the case now in the UK. I am not sure if it is a good thing or a bad thing really. I think it is a bad thing if your dress sense is what defines you, or if people look down on others for their dress sense, but I think that is also sad that there is a a lack of a sense of occasion and so no reason to dress up. I'm still trying to find the happy medium between the point where special occasions are too fraught because of the necessity to dress correctly and yet special enough to warrant taking some special care to go.

Me prepared for the summer with my anti-mossie net

Watch out for those low flying jokes!! And an Apple Crumble for all my readers.


  1. Sounds like you've had a good time with your family and friends. Hope the weather's not too cold in Latvia when you return.

  2. It has been lovely Mavis and I understand it has been mild in Latvia too. There was some snow on Christmas day but it has since disappeared

  3. it seems you had a great Christmas...and Zumba, now I would pay to see those photos!!

  4. Phew! Good job there were no photos to see, not a pretty sight I'm sure :oD

  5. Hi!!! I hope that you are settled back after your time in England....may 2012 bring you all you hope for.

  6. Oh we are enjoying the peace and quiet of rural Latvia and feel very well settled back thanks.


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