I’m hoping I can just about get away with a Christmas post, considering we still haven’t put our decs back in the loft yet, and I’m pretty certain I’ve still seen a few random houses with their outside Xmas lights displayed, which personally I think is a step too far…although come to think of it I do remember one time when I was living on my own, I still had my tree up at the end of January (possibly early February, and probably because I was just to lazy to do the big after Christmas clean!) And yes, I confess I did still switch on the tree lights whenever I was sat there watching the tv, because there’s nothing better than getting all cosied up in front of a film, with that warm glow of coloured lights (coloured all the way as it makes us feel all nostalgic, with memories of childhood christmases) whilst tucking into the leftover cheese & crackers and what’s left of the tin of quality streets (mainly the orange and strawberry creams, but hey, it’s still chocolate isn’t it?!)
Anyway, all that’s gone now, the house looks bare and we’ve hidden the chocolates (out of sight, out of mind and all that!) and all the excitement and build up of Christmas is long gone, but what a wonderful time we all had!
The festive season always starts at the end November for us. Char and I help run the local Rainbow guiding group, and we always have our annual Christmas bazaar fundraiser on the last weekend of November, and so we use this event as an excuse to get the decs down from the loft, since we have to get up there anyway to bring down the bric-a-brac boxes, and who wants to get up in the dark dusty loft, where there’s bound to be huge hairy spiders lurking, more times than is necessary?! Not us, that’s for sure.
We were feeling extra festive this particular weekend too, as we got to enjoy a romantic date night at Christmas at Beaulieu , which was absolutely stunning, with gorgeous Christmas lights making a feature of the beautiful buildings and grounds that surrounded the popular motor museum.
As we arrived outside there were vintage fairground rides, hot food stalls, mulled wine and the smell of roasted chestnuts filled the air. We then followed the beautifully lit trail around the grounds, with surprises around every corner, and background music that was quite simply ‘joyful & triumphant’. We came away with a warm fuzzy feeling inside, and that was only the start to our fun filled Christmas.
Of course our December wouldn’t be complete without a visit from Finley’s beloved Elf On The Shelf, Sprout. The previous year he completely outdid himself, so we had to help him get creative again as he’d already set the bar high. You can read what he got up to here! Luckily for us, just having Sprout arrive filled Finley with complete joy, but nevertheless we absolutely love seeing his face when Sprout leaves surprises, especially when we’re involved too, and so obviously Sprout is more than happy to oblige. 😉
The first surprise was planned by moi, and I like to get ahead of the game, so this particular day out was booked back in September! We were going on the Polar Express! ! D’you know, I’m surprised I was able to keep this one in as I was super excited, and to make it even more special I decided we would make a weekend of it, so I booked us into the Premier Inn Seaton nearby. For the big reveal I bought a cute Christmas train set, you know the kind that you can put around the Christmas tree, which made train noises and everything. I also bought us all penguin pyjamas, and sprout had his own set of pjs too, because for anyone that has watched the film, yes they all get on the Polar Express in their pjs, plus the info on the website encouraged this, so I thought what the heck! I then bought the book, which came with an audio cd, I purchased Polar Express golden tickets from eBay, and I downloaded the film onto our iPads so Finley could watch it in the car on the way, although he’d fortunately seen the film before. The night before, I set out the train set in the lounge once I’d sent Char upstairs, and Sprout sat in one of the carriages in his pjs, with the tickets and a letter explaining everything. Sprouts special Elf door then magically ‘appeared’ outside Finley’s door and everything was set for the morning surprise.
Early morning came and the house was suddenly filled with lots of excitement once the little door had been spotted, and then even more happiness when the surprise was finally revealed. Of course we couldn’t leave Sprout behind either, so for this weekend only he was allowed to be held, without the fear of losing his magic, and could enjoy the weekend with us.
We arrived at the hotel just after lunch, and unbeknownst to the others, I’d actually been in touch with the Premier inn and they’d kindly agreed for me to send a parcel prior to our visit, full of decorations, hot chocolate, gold coins, Xmas crackers and elf snap, to make the room feel festive, obviously courtesy of Sprout! Finley couldn’t believe it, he loved all the special added touches. We also were kindly given an early check in which meant we could change into our pyjamas ready for our trip on the Polar Express.
Once ready we left the hotel and walked, yes WALKED in our pyjamas, through Tesco’s car park to get to Seaton Tramway , which luckily for us wasn’t actually too far but we did get some funny stares along the way. We felt even more silly when we arrived and realised that every other family that had booked on had only dressed their children in pjs! Yep, that’s right! Turns out we were the only adults stupid enough to wear nightclothes out in public, but we didn’t care, we were actually super cosy in our fleecy pyjamas and fluffy ponchos so the joke was on them.
Well what can I say, the Polar Express is magical! From the moment it arrived through the doors, complete with a mystical smoke effect and theme music that gave us goosebumps, to the singing chefs, hot chocolate and cookies with story time on board, to arriving at the ‘North Pole’ station. It was wonderful. Then of course we got to meet the main man himself ‘Mr. C.’ where we got to have a lovely chat and photo opportunities, as well as all being presented with the ‘first gift of Christmas,’ our very own sleigh bell which is engraved with ‘The Polar Express ‘ and comes complete with a tag signed by Father Christmas. (And incase you were wondering, yes we can hear the bell ringing as we truly ‘BELIEVE ‘)
There was time at the station to enjoy arts and crafts, interact with the naughty elves, who were very mischievous indeed, take a picture in the sleigh and visit the gift shop, where we couldn’t resist buying the cutest conductors hat for Finley, and he certainly looked the part. We then took the journey home where we got our tickets punched by the conductor himself, and we finished the story and enjoyed singing Christmas carols together in the sweetly lit carriage, as we headed back to the station where our magical journey would come to an end.
When we arrived back we decided to go and get some munchies from Tesco’s, yes still in our pyjamas, and then went to a local kebab shop to pick up some burgers and chips to take back to our hotel room, where we could unwind with our feet up, whilst watching a Christmas film and tucking into our hot food…a perfect way to finish off the day.
We finished our weekend with a yummy buffet breakfast downstairs in the restaurant, to really set us up for the day, and a visit to Lyme Regis to do a spot of fossil hunting and a mosey round the seaside shops. It really had been a wonderful way for Sprout to welcome himself back into our family for the Christmas period, and we all had the best time.
The following weeks, Sprout of course got up to even more mischief,
and brought Finley even more surprises, including tickets to the Robin Hood panto at the Berry Theatre (where Finley was most upset to learn that his favourite character was being played by, wait for it….a GIRL!) We all had an enjoyable time regardless.
Finley also got brought his very own Christmasaurus, which he was over the moon with, and also very familiar with, as our Christmas tradition includes reading the story and playing the cd (where we know all the words) and we were lucky enough last year to see the show in London. In fact we love it so much that Char and I decided to make another Crazy video of us belting out one of our fav Christmasaurus songs, Christmas stylee!
December was, as always filled with meals and drinks out with friends, Christmas shopping trips and essential date nights or days for just me & Char. We enjoyed a lovely shopping trip to Salisbury, with a mooch around the Christmas market, last minute shopping for gifts, and a well earned lunch and a rest at a gorgeous New Mexican restaurant that we happened to stumble across, called Tinga. This place is gorgeous and we definitely recommend!
We also enjoyed a festive cinema trip together, to see the much anticipated Mary Poppins Returns, complete with merch that we just HAD to buy, and it was a movie that we thoroughly enjoyed!
Our final Christmas day out together was a trip to Tulley’s Farm, where we had a truly awesome day with lots of festive activities and another visit to see Santa, who we admit does get around a bit, but after all he is magic! Read our Tulley’s blog post here!
Christmas Eve came, and this was a family day spent baking and prepping for the main event, before our traditional visit to the local church for the beautiful Christingle service.
Sadly this was also the day that Sprout was to leave us, so as a treat he could be held by Finley again and Santa would pick him up when he dropped off Finley’s presents under the tree. After Christingle it was time to come home and open Finley’s Christmas Eve box, another favourite tradition, which included elf pyjamas, elf slippers, reindeer food, a hot chocolate reindeer, more chocolate, Santa’s magic key (because we don’t have a chimney) and a Christmas movie for us to settle down and watch together.
Finally after laying out the carrot, cookies and milk for Santa and his reindeer, it was time for the little man to go up to the land of nod, where we enjoyed ‘Twas the night before Christmas before he eventually drifted off, and finally ‘Santa’ could get to work!
Then it was here again, the day we’d all been waiting for, what it had all been leading up to, Christmas Day! Finley was especially sleepy this morning, but we weren’t having any of it…we were just too excited! So a couple of “Ho, Ho, Ho’s” did it, and suddenly he was awake and came running in, all bleary eyed clutching his bulging stocking with the biggest smile on his face!
The day was amazing as ever, Finley loved all his gifts and was very grateful, thank goodness! And Char and I loved our presents to each other, which included a Mary Poppins umbrella for me (of course) and a theatre ticket to see Harry Potter & The Cursed Child in London for Char (and me!) later in the year, where we plan to make a weekend of it (Blog post to follow!) we also loved just being surrounded by all of our family, as that’s really what it’s all about.
Christmas dinner for 10 of us, which I cooked, went without a hitch this year, and was just lovely, if I do say so myself. We also went with a Disney theme, which gave me a good excuse to wear my new Mary Poppins apron!
Then the time came where we pulled our Christmas crackers which included numbers that Char had placed inside, which corresponded to an after dinner tree present consisting of fun family games for us all to enjoy. Well this is where I got the biggest surprise ever. Unbeknownst to me, Char had planned this whole thing out, down to which number I was going to get in my cracker, because when I opened the numbered gift on the tree, as well as a fun game I was also greeted with a smaller box and a note inside directing me to the conservatory. I was very puzzled but intrigued, so off I went with everyone else following behind, where I then come across a massive box wrapped up, which when I tore off the paper revealed the most amazing KitchenAid stand mixer, and it was PURPLE 😍 seriously I was gobsmacked! I actually cried because I was completely overwhelmed and did not expect it at all, I know I’m sad for crying over a bloody mixer, but it’s not just a mixer, no it’s the mother of all mixers and one that I didn’t dream I’d own until I was rich and had a big enough kitchen to put it in. Needless to say it sits pride of place on our kitchen worktop, as something that grand doesn’t deserve to just sit in a cupboard, no this is definitely what I’d call art! Anyway she’s been christened and I feel like I finally have a good excuse to just whip up a batch of brownies whenever I feel the need, because now it’ll simply be effortless!
The days in between Christmas & New Year just seemed to merge into one, and were full of lazy days, eating lots (and lots more!) playing with new toys, and just enjoying being off together. We spent New Years Eve with family at home, and enjoyed a night of karaoke, dancing, more eating and getting merry. We also made Finley up little bags to open on the hour as a fun lead up to midnight, with things like glow sticks, chocolate, party props etc….and the very last bag was another surprise visit from Sprout (for one night only) as he knew it would make Finley’s night, and he wanted to say a proper goodbye. The countdown came and the party poppers went off and their were hugs and kisses all round. This night is extra special for me and Char as it’s the anniversary of when she proposed to me, in front of the London eye 2 years ago, and I of course said YES! Take a look at our proposal blog post here!
Now here we are in 2019! I can’t believe we’re almost halfway through January already, but we are all very positive about this year and have lots to look forward to, mainly with Char starting a new Childcare qualification, and also our plans to begin fertility treatment this year, so wish us luck and watch this space!
Happy New Year!
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear” ~ Elf
2 Birds 1 Love