Sometimes you need a plan for when it’s not Christmas anymore and the children are being vile and they’re tired and a bit sniffly and you’re hungover and have eaten too many Quality Streets.
We’ve spent ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ at the in-laws. They’re top notch hosts and we visit a lot so here are our favourite spots for a visit when you’ve gotta get out of the house.
MAD museum. It’s like one big marble run session with other brilliant feats of engineering and physics. Both sprogs love it as there are tons of buttons to press and things to see and admire. We all lost about 40minutes hypnotised by a Spirograph.
We all wake up fresh faced and have croissants and hand squeezed orange juice for breakfast.
After the children have their vitamin tablet and say their prayers of thanks to Our Lord, they exchange gifts. This year, the children made their presents for each other and DH and I donated the rest of their Christmas money to a charity the children chose themselves, The Pious Society of Do Gooders. #soblessed #rejectingcapitalism
After an quick workout, I put on a mindfully curated Christmas outfit and whizz up a spinach cocktail in the Nutribullet.
Christmas morning is such a joy: our home is filled with warm laughter, the tinkling of cutlery and the scent of White Company candles. I feel so lucky that our little unit can spend time together and that my children value it above all else. It’s a magical time.
After lunch, the children have fruit for their pudding and we spend some quality time chatting and playing board games.
The rest of the day is a blur of fun and charity work until just before bed when we write our thank you letters and share loving thoughts.
Tell us, what’s your favourite bit about Christmas?
What would you like for Christmas?
I asked Father Christmas for..umm… Lego
Did you do a nativity play?
I dids. I was a sheep. I had to crawl. Sheeps crawl you know.
What’s the best bit of Christmas dinner?
Yeah. And those sausages. The small ones.
They’re called pigs in blankets.
Stares at me in disbelief.
What are you going to buy me for Christmas?
Baby Jesus. I love baby Jesus. I want him and Batman on my birthday cake.
Can you tell me the story of baby Jesus?
He was a baby on hay and in a manger and the stars looked at him (plagiarism). He was special but then he met some bombs and died and went underground. He was deaded. But then he came alive again! And he say happy Christmas!
Because I am a wife of a swanky law type, we have access to gorgeous flats in central London at the Inns of Court so I rented a couple for us Olis and my parents for their birthdays this weekend. Here are some pics and deets of what we got up to. It’s essentially a whole lotta museums. God I love museums.
Oddly hard to find considering its height, but worth looking for and worth the 311 steps to the top. William managed it ok, Alex had to be carried. Alex also managed to do a poo halfway up it and stink out the stairwell. This is a monument to the great fire of London so brace yourself for 38529835928359 questions about the fire, how it started, how many died and what their dead bodies looked like and do we get to see the dead bodies etc. Unless, of course, your child is less morbid than ours.
This is another one that’s a bother to find (head to St P’s and ask around), but brilliant. And free. There is MASSES to see and it’s genuinely interesting: all fire, plague and cholera. Love that stuff. The cafe’s not great and there’s not much else around so advise packing a picnic.
NB: if I had a Mastermind subject it would be Museum Cafes of the World: specialist area Maritime Museums, and I reckon if it don’t sell sausages rolls, it ain’t no good and that’s my measuring stick.
NBB: Norwich Castle Café is the best, thanks for asking.
A hidden gem and a good spot for your picnic. This park is just outside Museum of London and is a captivating charm of Victorian London. It is a park that commemorates those who lost their lives in heroic acts during the Victorian era. It’s a fascinating window in to Victorian life: lots of burning dresses, drowning and factory explosions. It’s free and it’s ripe for aspiring novelists searching for inspiration.
1) Christmas songs. I have a CD of them I put on in traffic jams even in the dead of summer.
2) Notebooks. This is a lifelong obsession. It makes me feel like I can conquer the world with a fresh pad and a to do list.
3) Museums. See previous post and above nerdiness.
4) Successful parallel parking. My friend Vicki and I once got stuck in a B&B driveway and had to scrrrrrraaaape along their fence post and hoon off shamefacedly. Since then we text each other ev.er.y. successful parallel park. I have a back catalogue of pictures of my Picasso in Norwich roads.
5) When other people get told off. I’m such a goody goody /snitch. I once saw the police pulling over a car who’d just been tail-gating me and in that moment I felt that all was well and right with the world. Another, related, source of joy is braking when someone’s been driving right up close behind me. That’ll learn the pillock.
6) Any number of small domestic triumphs: coming home when the cleaner has been, seeing the bottom of laundry basket, having a fridge full of food, remembering it’s bin day, etc. Simple pleasures.
7) Post. All of it, but especially a card from me mam and Red magazine.*
8) My children, husband, friends, health etc blah
*by the by, my husband thinks post is archaic and pointless so I take great delight in paying for stamps on the joint account. First class, if possible. **
**Even I think first class stamps are a swindle. I’ve got a conspiracy theory on it- ask me about it sometime.
Off on your hols with your sis? Roll with that and make her give you a lift in your mum’s car. #regression.
Crucially, you must stay loyal to being a neurotic traveller and force your super-relaxed sis to arrive three hours early for the flights. That’s a good 90 minutes before check-in. Feel suitably embarrassed.
Spend so long at the airport you know your fellow travellers better than you know some of your neighbours and you have to go to Smiths cos you’ve finished your book. You’ve read your book: a surefire sign you’re kid-free!
Fall asleep on ‘Jill’ in seat 11C.
Awake refreshed and glide through airport with ease and hand-luggage only. Waft smugly out through airport doors. Turn round. Go back inside. Haul on more layers. Hit the cold again.
Arrive at the apartment your cousin has rented for you and wander around its wonderful rooms, trailing your fingers across the walls in manner of Cinderella at the ball.
If you have any energy after your late night flight, pop out for a quick snoop around the neighbourhood. Because you are young and relevant and like a homing pigeon for what’s hot, you stumble across a bar you were desperate to go to. Accidently stay until the wee hours.
Despite the late night, wake up early: THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO. Pack a bag, pack your printed, laminated fun schedule (actual thing) and head out for coffee and apple pie.
Hunt down the Christmas Markets. Christmas markets make my heart beat faster. Cut me and I bleed mulled wine for the month of December and I like to chug it al fresco. We found the markets at Old Town Square better than the ones at Wenceslas and when it comes to Christmas markets, I know my shit so trust me on this.
Drag yourself from the trdelnik, twinkly lights, sizzling sausages and magnificent Christmas tree (it has a viewing platform- joy of joy!), and head to the Museum of Communism. In fact, don’t. It’s crap. Go to the DDR in Berlin instead.
Head on to find the thrift shops of Prague. Show your dedication to fashion by getting distracted on a short-cut by an upside-down-horse. Stop for a snifter at the Kino bar by the horse’s bum.
Now, not everyone will have a handsome actor in their family (peers down nose) but Han and I do and if you do too (secret handshake) then pop along to their film set. Try and do this once you’ve had several beers and half a dozen mulled wines: it’ll add to the confusion of arriving in a parallel medieval world where people in North Face are avidly watching your cousin Tom slice n dice baddies. Happily, Tom’s captivating and kind girlfriend was there and she’s well-versed in set etiquette (setiquette?) so ignored our refusal of hand-warmers, heated insoles and penguin jackets. She also knows her stuff when it comes to on-set buffets so she proved an excellent tour guide. Listen to your onset sage and try and hold back on nudging everyone and whispering ‘that’s my cousin’.
Defrost in town later when you pop for a ‘quick drink’. Get massively lost when you keep ending up at the Christmas tree which is where your heart is, but not the people you’re meant to be meeting…
Accidently stay out til 4am.
Wake with a hangover, but it doesn’t matter because YOU ARE KID-FREE. You can have a bath without an Igglepiggle bath toy giving you the eye and then crawl back in to bed. Crawl back out in raging hunger. Head to Café Lounge and order three breakfasts. More if you’ve got the koruna.
Belch out some room for more food as you stroll to the farmers’ market for cake, fried fish and mulled wine.
The next recommendation is hard to orchestrate but with high output: if possible, get the shits and make a dash for a scuzzy metro toilet run by a Czech grouch. Han managed to get locked in her cubicle and thoroughly recommends perching on the loo while listening to her sister gripe next door. Aim for the stars, people.
Go back and sleep. You can do that because your kids are at the in-laws.
ANOTHER COUSIN HAS ARRIVED! Wake up! Go out for supper en masse and admire their lovely faces and feel content.
Take a night-time walk across Charles Bridge and sip ginger tea as you feel superior to all the drunken stags. Because you are cool and edgy, search out a bar you’ve had recommended. It’s a bit swanky so schlep next door to the tiny hole in the wall serving becherovka and hot dogs.
Meander more. Drink more. Play a board game (it’s the best: I’ve asked for it for Christmas). Realise it’s 4am again. Bugger.
Balk in horror at the realisation that you’ve got to get to the airport on a Sunday on four hours’ sleep from a place you don’t know the address of. Recruit your progressive cousin to book you an Uber. Modern!
Rejoice in being at the airport dead early so you can read your book and hunt down Jill for a nap. Spend conscious part of flight glowing in the memory of Prague’s magic and doing happy mulled wine burps.