Merry Christmas & A Very English New Year

Merry Christmas, lovely nerds! I hope that your holiday season brings you rest, reflection and plenty of time to binge-watch your favourite TV series. (And I really hope you’ve managed to see Star Wars, because it’s worth the hype.)

 

Spending Christmas in England is definitely a change for me. The cuisine is different (mince pies and boiled puddings), there’s rain instead of snow, and all the traditions I’m used to have been shelved for the moment. But you know what? That’s okay. Sharing in new traditions with my partner and his family brings me a new kind of joy – one that softens the blow of being away from my parents and siblings this December.

Instead of shivering away in snowy Canada, I’m spending Christmas in Plymouth, a naval city in the south of England that has deep historical ties to the “discovery” of Canada (and the U.S., too). The Mayflower Steps, from where settlers sailed to the New World, is just one of the famous sites in the city. There’s a lovely view of the sea, and lots of antique shops tucked away in the old part of town.

But my favourite place to visit when we’re in Plymouth is Saltram House, a Georgian mansion on a hill overlooking the suburb of Plympton (north-east of Plymouth). It was the home to the Earls of Morley. Also, it’s completely gorgeous.

When we visited a few days ago, one of the house’s wings had been decorated for Christmas. Traditional carols filled the halls, and a kindly member of staff read a Christmas tale to a young girl in front of a roaring fireplace. In the kitchen, the wood-stove kept visitors cosy. Ingredients for mulling sat next to large copper pots, and a traditional Christmas feast was displayed, ready to be brought up to the dining room later in the evening.

It was raining on the day we visited. Otherwise, we might have walked the grounds, as the grass is green and lush this time of year. But instead, we tucked ourselves into the nearby cafe for a hot lunch, cup of tea and a mince pie.

Although Christmasing in Plymouth is entirely different from what I’m used to, I’m enjoying it so far. I’m being well taken care of by my partner’s family, and I’ve had plenty of time to relax. The rainy weather has also given me time to sit by the fire and reflect on what I want to achieve in 2016 (more on that soon…).

What’s your favourite Christmas tradition? Leave a comment below and let me know what I should incorporate into my yearly activities.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas – and see you in 2016!

xx
Gabrielle

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