I spent most of November (and a bit of October) in the UK. A whole month away from Kraków and all that goes with it. I wasn't really planning on returning to the UK for Christmas quite so soon after spending so long there. But, family responsibility got the better of me and when I got the chance to acquire some ludicrously cheap flights (I won't tell you how cheap) I decided to return to the fatherland. A potentially mind-numbing two and a half weeks in Blighty. So, how have things panned out?
The weather has been pretty bad. Or, more accurately, bad at the wrong times. On New Year's Day, for example, it rained pretty much solidly from dawn to dusk and a good few hours beyond that. Windy too, so my umbrella would have been useless in such conditions. There has been some good weather. Take, for example, the weekend between Christmas and New Year's the weather was pretty good and I took full advantage of it. Walking for between four and five hours on each of those days help me burn off some of the Christmas blubber I'd amassed. Unfortunately the next day it rained solidly and I didn't feel like venturing out further than the local supermarket.
The Big Day (Sandwiched between two slightly smaller big days).
I spent Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day in my home town. It was ok, nothing spectacular, but I had very low expectations anyway. Christmas Eve started round a friend's flat with the three of us watching a run-down of the top 50 Christmas hits of all time. It got to number thirty before we could tear ourselves away from the television set and head into town. Quite frankly watching TV was the highlight of the evening. We found ourselves at Maxims. Luckily we didn't have to pay to get in, otherwise I would have been demanding a full refund (and probably compensation for emotional distress too). The upstairs bar was nice enough. Downstairs was down to Maxim's usual crappily-low standards. It's the sort of place that older guys bring their mail-order Pilipino wives to. On this occasion the dance floor was full of homosexuals. I've been to more than my fair share of gay bars in my life and this was just "gay", in both meanings of the word.
Most of Christmas Day afternoon was spent with my parents. The television was on far too loud as usual. I handed over all the goodies I'd brought from Poland (fudge and chocolate) as well as most of the contents of a Christmas hamper I'd received from a client. My mother wouldn't starve for at least a few days, that was assured and I had 5 kilos less of things to carry around. Dinner was very good. Very good in fact. My sister-in-law had assembled an aid package (in the form of a ready cooked turkey dinner complete with yorkshire puddings and stuffing). Only the potatoes didn't heat up well in the microwave. After a suitable break to allow the massive dinner to redistribute self around the rest of my body. I heated up the mince peas and Christmas pudding and served them (with a decadent puddle of cream) to dear old mommy.
In the evening I went round to a friend's place for another roast dinner. Pre-dinner entertainment included us playing Doctor Who Trivial Pursuit. It turns out that knowledge of Doctor Who isn't a prerequisite for playing this quiz game and I did surprisingly well. Dinner was good followed by a very nice dessert. After dinner it was time to watch the Doctor Who Christmas special. Nothing very special about it and nothing very special about the new Doctor. Then EastEnders. I only watch EastEnders once or twice a year. Such a depressing load of shite.
Afternoon was spent at my brother's house to stuff my fat face with even more food. In the evening I had a party to go to. Our hosts were the lovely Monster and Mel (neither of those are their real names). Last year on Boxing Day I'd failed to catch the last bus back to Brighton (well, there was a bus but it would have only got me half way back to Brighton) and went to Monster and Mel's party. This time it was pre-planned and I had a bona fide invitation. The food would be good, that was pretty much guaranteed. There would be music, we knew that because several members of our party were bringing musical instruments.
The food was excellent. All washed down with some sangria. The music didn't quite happen. One of our hosts (Monster) was playing electric guitar while his Mrs was in charge of complaining about the volume.
News Year's Eve - The Last Big Day of the Year
Ah NYE, usually the biggest anti-climax of the year. A year ago it was particularly bad (partly due to being ill and partly due to being in my home town). This year I had opted to stay in Brighton. I'd managed to get some cheap tickets to a charity event just over the road from my house in Brighton. A charity masked ball in fact, described as "An interactive of mayhem and circus fun". Proceeds to go to the Children of Sumatra Appeal. There was to be poll dancing and various other attractions. Early bird tickets at only £10. "Can't be bad" I thought to myself.
A couple of friends from Eastbourne came along. Neither of them knew much about the event, but both of them were happy to get out of Eastbourne for the night. Pre-going-out entertainment involved watching the Gadget Show, followed by an hour of MTV. At 9pm we headed off to the bar. We were rather under-dressed for the occasion. One friend fashioned a mask by poking two holes in a tissue and tucking it under his woolly hat. All the time cracking jokes about drinking for the children of Sinatra. Talk turned to new year's resolutions. My resolution was "to draw or photograph as many naked/partially naked woman as possible". A worthy ambition. Anyway, it was a fairly fun night, I hadn't spent too much money and I didn't drink to excess. I've had much worse nights out. I've had better too, but as News Years go, this wasn't at all bad.