What an incredible week we’ve had visiting Liam’s Uncle Dan, Auntie Elaine, and cousins Scarlett and Isobel. Their generosity and hospitality were overwhelming, and tremendously appreciated, and it truly was the best Christmas ever, with the laughter of our little ones taking center stage.

We arrived in London on the afternoon of the 21st, and after lugging far too much baggage and a tired little boy through the airport, customs, and to the car hire depot, we were on our way to Dan and Elaine’s house.  Hoping to find a good pub en route (we were starving), we stopped at a little place that looked decent enough, and enjoyed possibly the worst english pub food ever. But having said that, they had a charming dog (Archie) who Liam delighted in playing with until we choked down our fish ‘n chips and made our way to the house.

It was excitement and hugs all around when we arrived!!  No chance of Liam taking a nap through that!!  But it was a nice, casual family dinner, and the kids off early to bed so the grown ups could catch up!

The 22nd we all headed out to Hughenden Manor for a bit of a walk in the woods.  Liam borrowed a pair of the girls’ old wellies, but they were still too big for him so they kept falling off while he was walking, and he certainly held up out little group!! Eventually we gave up and let him wear his trainers instead. He’s weeks away from outgrowing them anyway, so he may as well get them mucky!! (and he did!!)  The grounds were beautiful, and we stopped in their little cafe for a hearty lunch of some local gourmet fare, and a bit of a browse in their gift shop (fudge for daddy’s stocking!)

On the 23rd, the three of us headed into London on our own to see the hustle and bustle at Christmastime, visit Hamleys (one of the finest toy stores in the whole world), and have a quick get-together with our good friend Nicole (Auntie Nicole), before she headed off west to visit her family for the holidays.  Although Liam really enjoyed the train ride into London, and the tube, by the time we hit street level at Oxford Circus he was an absolute nightmare and we were one of those parents walking down the street with a raging toddler on our hands. But, somehow, we managed, and treated him to a bit of lunch at the Rainforest Cafe at Piccadilly Circus. He LOVED that, and Nicole came by and visited for a half hour before rushing to fetch her own suitcase and head out of the city. We were happy to rush back to Dan and Elaine’s after lunch to hang out with the family, instead of traipsing around bustling London city centre.

On Dec 24th it really started to feel like Christmas!

The mum’s headed into the supermarket in the morning for the last bits and bobs for Christmas dinner, while the dad’s took the kids for a walk in the woods behind the house. Then Dan and Elaine arranged for a WONDERFUL afternoon outing to the local theatre Christmas Panto… for friends and family back home, the english pantomime is a musical theatre production, and this one was especially for kids.  To our great surprise, Liam was completely into it, standing and dancing on his seat, clapping his hands, shouting along with all of the other kids in the audience, and laughing uproariously! At the end of every number he’d shout out ‘more music??!!’ Unfortunately for us all, this was also the beginning of the cold that would plague Liam for the rest of the Christmas holiday, and after the intermission he started to crash and had to make our excuses and leave the theatre.  We took him for a bit of a walk around the town, so he could stretch his legs a bit, and then we all headed home for an AMAZING Christmas Eve feast.

Elaine had prepared an entire salmon… more than enough food for us all, for several days!  I expect that Dan and Elaine are still working through the leftovers… or at least George the dog is!

Once the kids were off to bed, having laid the flour out at the foot of the chimney, and leaving a carrot for the reindeer and cookies and whisky for Santa, the mums and dads all set about to wrapping the last of the presents for Christmas morning.