Saturday, December 25, 2010
Right now it is Christmas Eve in the UK, and already it is Christmas in Australia. I have been quite blessed and been looked after quite abit over the past 2 days since leaving Manchester. Have started feeling the Christmas Spirit and had God looking after my every move and made some 'miracles' happen as Lauren says.
Yesterday I said goodbye to Manchester (again) and caught my train to London early in the morning, meeting up with Lauren at Stratford Station where we travelled out to Manor Park where we stayed with a lovely Romanian family. They shared with us a few of their traditions and foods that they would normally have, so it has been a multicultural Christmas so far. We also managed to get through the metro on a couple of occasions when we didn't really have the right tickets!! I had mistakenly thought that Manor park was within zones 1/2 (when its really 3/4) and so I had the wrong ticket. Thankfully though, there isn't a gate at Manor park so I walked through twice without the right ticket. Then later on Lauren lost her ticket so I gave her mine and used my oyster card and thankfully again didn't get caught!! Thanks God!!
Apparently in Romania many people (including this family) will wait until Christmas eve to start decorating their tree, decorating the house, singing christmas songs and christmas foods. George, one of the brothers in the house explained to us last night that how Christmas happens in the UK and alot of places with decorations and everything starting so far in advance, that there is no christmas spirit. By delaying it to the night before, they can really feel it in their heart and celebrate.
After spending some time with George, Lauren and I hit the metro and went to Hyde Park to the Winter wonderland. We wandered around the christmas markets and took in the sights, sounds (and cold) of an English winter. We tried roasted chestnuts for the first time, Lauren had mulled wine for the first time and I even saw a lake frozen over!
Well maybe it's not quite a lake, but one of the big dams (it looks like a lake) and all the creeks in Hyde Park and James park in London were completely frozen over! I don't think it was very deep though. I admittedly had to laugh when a guy near us went too close to the lake in Hyde park and slipt in. Must have been very very cold. They had put witches hats on top to warn people that it wasn't the path and I think he was just testing how close he could get and yes.. bad bad idea!!
After the Christmas markets we started walking towards Big Ben with a quick stop by Buckingham Palace. Everything looks so different at night (perhaps its the fact that there aren't so many people) and then made our way past Westminster Abbey. I've never been inside. I think you have to pay normally. Anyway there were all these people going inside (with tickets), so we wandered over to see what was happening and were told that it was a carols service. The guy out the front then gave us a ticket so we got to go in!!! For free which was even better! It was beautiful in there, very formal and we got to even have real candles with the carols.
I started my day today with a glass of homemade Romanian wine and some sort of marbled chocolate walnut cake (also Romanian). Not my typical breakfast (or the norm for them) but... The family (brothers and sisters living together) we stayed with, their mother (in Romania) had posted them all the food they would normaly eat over Christmas so that they could have a proper Romanian Christmas. This amounted to over 50kg!!! Not including another 20kg in wine (as previously mentioned I sampled at breakfast!!) that was made at home using grapes they grew.
We managed to catch the train down to Shoreham by seconds. Literally. We were meant to get the 14:21 train to Brighton then swap and catch a second leg to shoreham. but the booked train was cancelled and we managed to jump on a different train which went straight to Shoreham. But we arrived on the platform (it left at 1417) about 20 seconds before it left!!! All the trains were packed and full of people with bags all trying to get home for Christmas.