So I had my very first English Christmas this year and only my second Christmas ever outside of Florida!
Ben and I headed out on Christmas Eve and took the train to Manchester, to spend the Christmas weekend with his cousin Faye, her husband Charlie and their boys Charlie and James.
Of course we started the journey with a bottle champagne because that's how we roll:
We also ran into one of Ben's friends, Bernardo, and invited him to sit with us and play some rounds of Uno:
He lost every round, but we were pleased with our winnings :)
We also admired the landscape along the train ride, the English countryside was still covered in blankets of snow:
Always nice to look at when it doesn't delay your train trip!
After the four hour ride, we arrived in Manchester and straight away headed to church to see Charlie and James in the Nativity play:
Here's proud Dad Charlie:
and Ben, studying the hymns for the play:
Charlie and James, after the play:
and me with my Christingle, an orange with a candle at the top, toothpicks with rasins and sweets and a red band going around the orange, very English indeed!
So that was our Christmas Eve night and of course we were up at 7am for Christmas, per Charlie and James' request of course ;)
The beautiful tree was absolutely surrounded by presents!
some presents required assembly by Dad:
Here is a picture of Ben's Christmas wrapping skills. I think the bows are really the crowning achievement:
Here I am holding up my sushi making kit from Ben and there is Charlie (aka the photobomber) in the background:
Ben, loving his gift from me, a box of poo, so sweet!
also admiring his new straight razor, although he does look just a tad creepy..................
and of course I had to get some shots in of Elvis, the family dog:
she mistook Ben for a climbing post:
and here is Ben using all the shaving gifts I got him, a badger hair shaving brush and shaving soap:
and the straight razor:
to be followed with his new after shave, all from Taylor of Old Bond Street, established in the year of Queen Victoria, 1854, so English!
After the gift opening was done, we popped open a magnum size bottle of Moet:
Faye presented her beautiful cake (while Charlie photobombed in the back):
Charlie took James' new scooter for a ride in the kitchen, of course:
and red flannel twins James and Ben toasted to Christmas:
Ben had champagne but James opted for his 'boy wine' or slur, us Americans know it as sparkling white grape juice ;)
After an amazing traditional English dinner prepared by Faye we headed outside into the night to light some Chinese lanterns, apparently another English tradition:
Ben getting our lantern ready:
Faye with her lantern lit, getting ready to release it:
Ben lighting our lantern:
getting ready to set our lantern off into the night:
and away it went!
Ben helped Andrew with his lantern:
and off his went too:
our lanterns floated off into the night sky, which meant our Christmas wishes came true :)
The next day was Boxing Day which is celebrated pretty much everywhere in the world EXCEPT for the U.S. and since no one really knows what it means, it's pretty much a day to visit family and friends you couldn't be with on the actual Christmas day.
We took the day to visit two trees planted at a local park in memory of Ben's grandmother and grandfather. As snowy as it was, the park was still beautiful:
there were even sheep there!
Charlie brought his bike:
and Matt and Becs brought their dog Monty (Montgomery):
here is Ben posing with the sheep:
after the park we went to a local pub for some pints and traditional English pub food:
What a perfect ending to a wonderful English Christmas!