Christmas experience

10 Jan

It was started one afternoon with “Mari? Hi, I am Danny”. I then spent six interesting days of my christmas holiday with him, his wife Karen and their family and friends. They moved to Boughrood, Mid-Wales for 28 years ago and still seemed very pleased with the place. They are running a B&B and have two very lively dogs who always play around. [here to see the place I stayed]

The place is beautiful. We could see the Black Mountain from the kitchen window. Unfortunately, it was foggy when I was there. The house was comfortable and cosy with a fireplace in the living room burning wood.

To make things better, the bed was so warm and comfortable, incomparable to my Cardiff hard and cold bed, that I had the best sleep since I came to the UK. It has white linen with flowers embroidery on it and gave very down-to-earth feeling. The room overlooked the garden at the back of the house. I had my private bathroom with warm water. There were old oil lamps hung on the wall, but I didn’t use them.

But, more enjoyable thing was to know about British way of life. Prior to the trip, I was busy so I didn’t really have any preparation. Once we met them, I felt rather anxious on how to interact with them. Fortunately, they didn’t treat me as stranger. We had lunch in the kitchen, walked the dog, chopped off some tree branches for house christmas decoration and started doing the work. I saw their flock of sheeps, goat and chickens in the farm. From the kitchen, we can see the small garden where they hung bird feeders and we can see many birds there all day long. I saw woodpecker and robins.

Food and dining culture interest me. I learned that we ate meals in steps: appetizer, main course, dessert followed by tea. I learned a lot about local christmas-sy food such as that mince pies do not contain any meat, christmas pudding served with Brandy and lighted up before serving, christmas cake has this yellowish layer of marzipan, made of almont, and icing layer. I cracked open walnut and chestnut. I learned that some cheese purposely made mouldy, that pork served with berries sauce and chicken with apple sauce, that we can make our own bread.

During Christmas eve, we hold a party. I met many old people and learned about their lives. A man is doing serious gliding who told me passionately how the aircraft work, another worked as aircraft controller engineer and shared his computer class and his feeling when he sang with the choir team at the millenium stadium, a lady was a publisher, some paints or writes, some keep horses. There are others who I did not get to talk to but everyone has own story to tell. I find it very interesting how people are passionate on what they do. It is something that sometimes lack in my own society – the lack of pride in what they do.

The children came on christmas morning with lots of gifts. Apparently gifts exchange was a big thing. There are tons of them. Even I got a lot (unfortunately I did not bring a lot of presents there). The daughter gave me very delicious home-made chocolates. We had early champagne before gift opening and had christmas meal at the dining room afterward – complete with the firecrackers and the paper crown. It was started with melon as appetizer, followed by mince meat etc for main course and delicious mince pie with cream and christmas pudding for dessert. It was  warm.

The people I stayed with are good people and it is interesting how they live. They care about environment and take recycling seriously. The son works as social worker and volunteers for trade union. Despite my skepticism toward strong trade union movement here, I think he has a good intention and does what he thinks is right. They live the life they want. Well, the good thing is the UK provides good social security for them. In Wales, old people have free access to medical and public transport. I am not sure if it will do them good in the long term as now the country is competing with hard-working developing countries, but it is definitely nice to have such welfare system.

I got to know the popular TV soap (EastEnders) and radio shows, how to light up fire at the fireplace, how to spin wool. And that there are always something written about something and people are really interested with history of their place.

However, although the language, the food, the mindset, the lifestyle are different than those in my own culture, our lives are essentially similar. The bond in the families and friends, the love of life and its concerns are familiar. At the end of the day, I felt the warm similar to my own. Experiencing their family warm eased my longing for home.

The days flew by and it was time to go home. The journey was ended with “Cardiff is not far, you know. Come back anytime.” as Danny and Karen send me off at the same bus station I arrived. Initially I thought it was only a polite gesture; but as they told me again, I knew it was a genuine invitation. I wish to go back there already.

Thanks to Karen, Danny, Nick, Dawn, Nigel, and all other lovely people I met there. Thanks to Daisy, Spike and Mo for not disliking me. hehehe

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2 Responses to “Christmas experience”

  1. Karen and Danny January 14, 2007 at 10:07 pm #

    We enjoyed reading your diary of your Christmas stay with us and are happy it has given you lots of memories and feelings.
    My only comment is that if any British people have read what we had for Christmas main course, they would be horrified to read that it was minced meat. This is a very cheap type of meat that we use in everyday dishes. We actually ate slices of Roast Pork and Roasted home killed chicken.

  2. mariani January 28, 2007 at 11:51 am #

    😀 Thanks Karen & Danny. Sorry about the wrong information. Hahaha..I’d eaten so many things I can’t really remember which was on which day. What I do remember is the meals were delicious and interesting.

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