I spent Christmas mostly on my own again this year, once again having Christmas with Zizzou, as I did last year when I was merely cat-sitting as opposed to being a resident of Le Chateau du Zizzou.
Instead of a walk, I cycled on my often-neglected bike to The Chesham Arms and spent a few hours on Christmas Day with friends and familiars. If you haven’t been yet to The Chesham Arms, it’s one of the cosiest pubs in London.
After a few beers….
(Shared with others, I might add, before you all think I am somehow superhuman.)
I cycled back home, took a nap, woke up and embarked on a rather late roast, of which I have done my best to mine through leftovers of, including making squash and blue cheese on toast for breakfast.
It may seem strange to say so, but I really like spending the Christmas period on my own. This is my fourth Christmas spent on my own without family here in London. The first one sort of sucked, particularly because I was sick and couldn’t explore the city with my friend who came to visit, but all the other ones have been all right if not downright pleasurable. I get to cook the food I want to make, stay in bed as long as I want (or at least until the cat insists I go and feed him) and essentially do what I want to do, which has included meeting a nice person in a pub I’d never met before (no, it wasn’t a date), watching a film at the cinema I’d been meaning to catch and finally, FINALLY getting the technique right to poach an egg.
Seriously, I have had poached eggs practically EVERY SINGLE DAY I’ve been home since realising I can poach a goddamn egg. POACHED EGGS ON EVERYTHING!
Anyway, a Canadian expat living in New York City captured pretty well the affinity for spending Christmas on one’s own. Like Michelle Dean, the author of the article, I don’t have the finances to travel during Christmas, and frankly, I don’t want to deal with the stress of wanting to get from one point to another the same time as millions of others around the world–especially during the time when rail replacement services are so rife here in Britain.
If I were to visit my folks and friends back in Orlando, I’d prefer to go around Halloween because, actually, that’s when I miss America the most. And I can probably get away with having an early Thanksgiving while I’m out there, too.
When Christmas comes around again, I hope to be in London to watch the festive December bustle before many of the city’s residents dip out. I like Christmas in London, even if the weather isn’t particularly wintery.
Although I wasn’t the recipient of gifts from relatives and loved ones (outside of a boss plate from the magnificent Clare, above), I got a huge gift, and that was time. Time to spend with the cat, time to cook (did I mention I can poach an egg now?), time to read long articles on Saul Bellow and J G Ballard while feeling slightly guilty that I haven’t actually read any of their books, time to chat with folks in a pub. Having time to do things, even the domestic shit no one really enjoys doing but it’s nice when it’s done, has been fantastic. I’ve had a few days in lieu to take in December as well, and it’s been nice to go see an art exhibition, meet with a friend for lunch, listen to new music and straighten things out here and there.
Apart from my near constant money woes I can never seem to escape from (Thanks, London! Thanks, irresponsible spending habits!) and the poor constitution of my immune system for its ability to pick up any cold that’s going around, I’ve actually had a pretty damn good month, thanks to the slightly longer weekends I was able to take in December. I’m also able to take some time off in January as well, going to Sheffield for a weekend and then, for Burns Night, to Glasgow and Edinburgh for the first time. I’ve never been anywhere in Scotland before, despite being here for over 4 years and having a year prior as a student, so I’m thrilled to be able to go for a few days.
I like the ending and beginning of a year. It’s a nice time to take mental stock of one’s circumstances, think about what’s happened during the year and what one hopes will happen, or plans to make happen, in the year to come. Although 2015 had some rough patches, I feel overall it has been a great year. I’ve gotten to know some very kind and wonderful people better who were previously just acquaintances, and I’ve met new people who have also been fun to get to know.
Also, I feel very much now a part of a community of beer that is hella supportive and pretty goddamn awesome–not just based here in London but in other cities as well. At the risk of sounding super-mega-sappy, it completely humbles me to be a part of this social environment, and I’m not sure there are enough words to convey how grateful I am for the kindness I’ve received in the industry I work in and with the people I’ve met, from people whom I’ve poured a beer for to folks I natter with on social media in one of my guises (personal or professional) to friends of friends, and others I’ve met whilst propping up a bar.
It was incredibly ace to travel more this past year. I visited two cities, Copenhagen and Amsterdam, not just once but twice in 2015, and I got to visit Ireland on two separate occasions as well. Plus there was the Brussels trip with my work colleagues, in which I spent entirely too much money on beer and chocolate, but it was top fun–even if I did nearly miss the train back. The now regular rounds of Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Newcastle for beery fun and games did not disappoint, either, and I was able to explore Birmingham properly for the first time, thanks to a work colleague who also happens to be a native.
I will likely need to reign in the travelling in comparison in 2016, as this is the year my current visa expires, and I plan on renewing it around the middle of the year, barring anything horrible happening or anything bizarre. It’ll be around £1300 to renew, which, of course, I conveniently have just lying around (not). But, it’s a hurdle worth jumping over, for personal and professional reasons. I just hope I’ll have money afterwards for the pub.
I hope you all had a brilliant holiday season and wish you all the best in 2016. May you have plenty of time to do the things that make you happy in this new year.