On the road again

Well I am writing this sitting on a Virgin® train heading down past Preston (that’s right next to Manchester, sort of) and heading for London. We’ll have a night in London staying with my brother Joseph (Paul is off to Paris with his girlfriend) then it’s off to Heathrow and Annmarie and Gabriel are on a plane to Australia.

Yes that’s right, just Annmarie and Gabriel. We’ve decided that since we are going to stay for a while longer (a couple of years or so) that one of us needs to go back to Oz and sort out a few of the things that we had not really sorted out properly and Annmarie generously volunteered to make the trip (the chance for her to get back to the hot Aussie sun of course had nothing to do with it). In the mean time I’m going to be trying to fit in working and getting Willow off to school etc. And just in case anyone is wondering, yes, we did finally book her some tickets to get back up here so they are booked and paid for.

Annmarie is currently conked out (we were up late last night sorting out some of the details) and the kids are drawing. Just in case anyone reading this, particularly those in Australia, Virgin do run trains and planes and just about any other business you can think of (well not really but it does seem that way sometimes). Oddly enough, the Virgin trains and actually quite a bit nicer than the GNER (the regular British trains) and are clean and seem to be run a bit better.

Unfortunately my train back was cancelled (something about signalling work on the lines) and the weekend is booked out, so I am now trapped in London for the weekend (Paul and Joe will be pleased… I think…). I may look to see if I can get a Ryan Air (i.e. dirt cheap operator) flight back up but will need to see what happens.

And now a trip back in time.

Christmas. Well I can’t say that we had quite as eventful a Yule time as Paul and Joe, but we did have a rather enjoyable one. Although we did have snow technically in Glasgow, there was not too much of it on the ground around Merchant City. There was a bit more out in the suburbs and the West End where we had set out to visit my Aunt Janet for lunch.

The actual Christmas thing was a bit of a mix’n’match of good and bad. We had gone down to the Glasgow Cathedral (well the Catholic one anyway, St Andrew’s I think) for the early Christmas vigil mass. We got there a bit late and it was absolutely packed. So we decided to see how the rest of the evening went and to maybe come to either the late vigil (11:30) or the next morning.

Since it was a little late, we were all a bit worn out, and well, just because it was Christmas we decided to have dinner out. We went to a nice little Italian café we’ve been to a few times called Vespa. We sat out in the back dining area, which is in a little glasshouse styled room. While waiting for dinner to arrive, it started to sleet.

Now we had been waiting for a while on tender hooks for the possibility of a White Christmas. It was looking quite promising at the time. A few days before it had sleeted when I had left to walk home from my office and it had been really quite something. I understand that for someone who had been through sleet many times before that it would not be all that fun, but for one with little experience of it, it was really quite beautiful. Sleet, by the way, for those who don’t already know, is a precipitation one step away from snow. Essentially, with sleet, the temperature has not quite dropped enough to form snow. The flakes that have formed are just a bit too worm to stay formed into ice when they land. Although you get some snow like appearances (especially on grass or bushes and some trees) mostly when the sleet lands on the ground, buildings and people, it turns straight to wet mush. It still looks rather pretty as it is falling but it’s not quite so magical as snow when it hits the ground.

So we were in the restaurant and it started to sleet. Since we were the funny foreigners and had not seen sleet before, Annmarie and Willow ran out front to see, to the slightly bemused looks of some of the other diners.

After dinner we went back home and finished wrapping up presents. A bit after eleven we went back out to the Cathedral for the late vigil mass. That proved to be rather interesting. The church was no where near as packed out as the earlier vigil, so we took some seats down the back and gave the kids some pens and paper so they could draw and keep themselves out of trouble. This overall went fine. There was another little girl in the seats behind us, but luckily this didn’t cause any large amount of noise.

Once back at the flat, we did some small present opening and looked out the window trying to decide if it was sleeting, snowing or just raining. A bit late we then got off to bed. Next morning we looked out to see that it had indeed snowed. This snow was not really that much on the full snow scale, but it was indeed actual snow that did cover some ground (mostly grass). So we can now say that we have indeed had a White Christmas. A better White Christmas would be nice, but this was a good start.

Christmas lunch up at Aunt Janet’s was very nice and traditional. I must say that my family always had a very traditional UKish kind of Christmas lunch (as many in Australia do, or used to) but now having had a Christmas lunch in a chilly, slightly snow filled day, I can better appreciate the old classics of roasts and puddings. The rest of the afternoon was very nice too. Good conversation, a solid Santa performance by the talented John Murray (snr) finished off with an enigmatic word game apparently invented and overseen by the also talented John Murray (jnr).

Boxing day. Well … we didn’t really do much on boxing day.