06.01.22 — Journal

A British Christmas

Just like last year, the end of December saw me take a flight from Madrid back over to Manchester and my parents’ house to spend Christmas with my family. After all the concerning news about COVID cases, I was worried that I might not make it, but my test came back negative and I hopped on board my early morning flight headed northward.

The weather wasn’t certain what it was doing when I arrived in Manchester.

Landing in Manchester, my dad came to pick me up and I completed the first of three tests that I’d have to complete during my stay in the UK. I was confined to the house for the first five days at least, but it wasn’t an issue as I’d four days of working from home lined up before Christmas Eve came around.

Working from home was quite pleasant, and in the evenings I made the most of our comfy sofas to read Becoming by Michelle Obama (my current book) and help out around the house. After disconnecting from work on the 23rd, I took a celebratory bath with a glass of wine and thus began to wind down and get ready for Christmas.

After me and my mum had conducted a Bake-Off-style round of baking (she made a lemon drizzle and I presented a Victoria sponge with fresh cream to boot), it was Christmas Eve, and me and my sister were treated to a little bag of presents as has become the family tradition. The best gifts were definitely the new pyjamas, which were immediately put into service!

The 25th then came around and with it the opening of presents, which took up most of our morning – we weren’t in any big rush. As an extra Christmas Day miracle gift, my test-to-release came back negative, and so I was allowed to end quarantine and head out of the house! To celebrate this, my dad and I headed out for a walk, battling high winds on the country roads to make our way to a nearby reservoir that I’d somehow never been to.

After having a good poke around the place for a while, we then headed back home as the light faded, which wasn’t a problem thanks to the beautifully decorated cottages that we passed along the way. When we arrived, the traditional Christmas dinner was almost ready, so we all sat down to fill up on turkey with all the trimmings.

Boxing Day was then a pretty chill affair, with the main event being our traditional lunch of cream of cauliflower soup which my mum makes with the recipe of an old family friend – it’s always a delicious part of our Christmas routine.

The day after I was keen to exercise my newfound freedoms, requesting that we make a trip to “Big Tesco”, the huge supermarket in our town. After so many years away, I am always fascinated to see what is sold back in the UK, and how many strange new products have been launched since I left – I’m not sure why we need so many flavours of everything, but someone must be buying them!

As one of my dad’s presents from me and my sister, I’d brought over some meats, cheeses, and other extras to put together a Spanish food hamper, and so I put together some nibbles for him that afternoon. I was quite proud of my meat platter of jamón and lomo, I never get them to look this good back in Spain!

We then went for another walk after lunch, heading up to the reservoir I’m most familiar with, Hurstwood, before stopping back off at the pub on the way back. I took the opportunity to have a nice cool Guinness, drinking it was too quickly in hindsight: I was quite giddy on the way home.

With another negative test result the following day, I headed off for a much needed catch up with Amber and Jess. Our little reunion took place at Amber’s new flat, where she put on a beautiful spread of cheeses and other nibbles. We chatted for hours over a glass of wine each before I had to head home in order to be whisked off to my next destination: my grandparents’ house, where I saw them again for the first time in twelve months. How time flies!

The next day I headed to the Trafford Centre with my mum and sister, where I met up with Danni to have lunch together and a snoop around at the sales. Abi couldn’t make it as she’d contracted the virus, but the two of us had a lovely lunch together finished off with some delicious cinnamon and sugar pretzel bites.

I then had to wake up relatively earlier the next day, as it was suddenly my last day on British soil. After saying goodbye to my family, Danni came to pick me up, as we’d one last thing to do before I jetted off back to Spain.

The two of us then headed so Salford and Media City, where we’d booked tickets to see Van Gough Alive, an interactive exhibition showcasing his life and works. We had fun at the exhibition and even had time to nip by the Cadbury’s outlet shop afterwards, but all too soon we’d to head back to the car and up to Manchester Airport.

As you can imagine, it was lovely to be back in England and to celebrate Christmas with my family once again, especially as the last time I was over wasn’t such a jovial time. As you’ll notice, I haven’t mentioned anything about my New Year’s celebrations, and that’s because I did something a little different to see in 2022 – but that’s for the next blog post!