Tuesday, 5 June 2012


Both this blog and my personal journal are horribly behind when it comes to capturing all the big events we’ve had this year. Even so, I keep feeling that I haven’t done anything. Yet when I look back I find that I haven’t even said much, or anything, about the Christmas season. It was a big year for us but celebrations were kept to a minimum as I did not have the energy to do much. 
A little bit of decorating...
Fairy lights always brighten up the grey months.
The tree is definitely *not* moving with us, but my special foil star is!
My favourite Christmas cookies. I spent the weekend making them whilst David was at Windsor.
David had a big birthday, but with our friends and family either gone for the holidays or stuck in Canada we just had a private celebration (we’re hoping to get to Canada for a visit after he is granted his PhD and then we’ll have a big party to ring in everything). Prior to Christmas, he at least got to spend a weekend away at Windsor Castle as part of his scholarship. He stayed at Cumberland Lodge, which featured in both The Kings Speech and in the actual abdication (his room was above the room where the abdication message was broadcast). We had a very spoiled Christmas morning, especially once we started opening the big packages that came from our families. 
My husband also took his thoughtfulness to a new level, giving me a beautiful cameo of the Madonna & Child.  
David oversaw most of the Christmas dinner cooking, as I was struggling to feel up to cooking. He did a great job, following a Gordon Ramsey recipe for his goose. 
It's not burnt--that's just carmelisation from the honey sauce on it :)
Christmas Dinner--our dear friend Anne joined us
Boxing day saw our usual tradition of going out to see a movie. New Years was also very quiet—we had been planning to go up to the highlands with a few of our friends, but between saving money for the baby and my total lack of energy we decided to keep a low profile.We kept our usual tradition of the New Years Day brunch, and managed a spot of good luck in the walk home where we saw a water rat out for a morning stroll in Jesus Ditch.
It was strange to think that this would be our last Christmas in this little flat, and also our last Christmas with just the two of us. Next Christmas so much will be different, and it reminds me of how glad I am that I did not know my last Christmas with my family would be the last in that form. It is too easy to spend time mourning what has not yet passed.

The highlight of the Christmas season for me was my Christmas present to David (and myself)—two tickets to go see La Traviata at the Royal Opera in London. My boss let me rearrange my work hours so that I could get to London in the late afternoon, and the opera was on a Friday which meant that I could just relax and enjoy the evening without dreading how tired I’d be the next day. We had a great pub supper (I found food I could eat! This was an accomplishment!) and then browsed in a few antiquarian bookstores on our way to the opera house. The opera experience was marvelous. Being the Royal Opera, even the stage curtains have the Queen’s monograph on them. The sets were incredibly intricate and involved actual changes, not just rotations, between scenes. The costuming was superb. The dress worn by Violetta for the opening ball scene was incredible—snowy white and glittering with hundreds of crystals. And of course the music was good too (it’s one of my favourite operas). There was champagne at intermission, and that gave me a chance to snoop and see the extravagant amounts they were charging for sandwiches (£11 for a little tray!). I was surprised at how under-dressed most of the London crowd was, compared to my opera outings in Canada. Many people had clearly just come from work. It at least meant I did not feel under-dressed as I had worn a nicer-than-usual outfit to work that day, but certainly no ball gown.

It was the best experience I’ve ever had at the opera. I had been somewhat apprehensive beforehand, because my Toronto opera experiences were always such a disappointment. It was nice to know that I could go to an even bigger (and better) city and get the opera experience I want, not some modern artsy interpretation. Seeing David’s face when he opened his opera ticket package on Christmas morning was also priceless, as I had spent several months telling him that it was nearly impossible to get affordable seats at the Royal Opera as we had missed purchasing when the season opened so it might be one of those things on our ‘to experience’ list that we’d have to forgo. 

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