Jetlag. Dark mornings. Early sunsets. Cold days. Old friends. Family. Dogs.
We have arrived in England.
The days are shorter, and we feel those missing hours of sunlight like you wouldn’t believe. When the sun sets in the afternoon, my body clock tells me it’s almost time to sleep, despite there being hours to go. Still there are warm cups of tea, and lots of mince pies and other Christmas goodies that almost make up for it. And then there are the long walks we take without a drop of sweat to be seen, warming up the further we get from home. The winter forests are bare but for the evergreens, and we wander among the holly and the fallen leaves in almost total seclusion. Most people tend to stay inside in this weather, but we are not most people.
I’m remembering all the things I loved about England when we lived here before. Those stunning forest landscapes. The old buildings on every corner. That feeling of soaking in history of a land occupied for centuries upon centuries. At the same time, I’m grateful this is just a visit. The cold is already in my bones, in my lungs. I rug up where I can, make the most of the heating when it’s on, and walk to get my blood pumping properly. Sometimes I approach something that could be warmth. Most of the time I just deal with it. A temporary freeze.
Christmas in the cold is still a new sensation to me, but I’m eager for the change. Last year we sweated it out while Dean cooked a traditional English roast. This year it was Dean’s mum pulling the hard yards, while we curled up against the overworked oven, wriggling our fingers at the warm and watching the dogs (there are four) hover for whatever fell from human hands. It’s a full spread and we’re grateful for it, all of Dean’s favourites and a few of mine. A meal we won’t soon be forgetting.
Afterwards, we walk off our food babies and put off the coma that is coming. Stepping out from our little warm dining room into the cold Christmas night is enough to shock the feeling of fullness straight out of me, but I enjoy it just the same. Those little walks in the cold do wonders for the body, energising and refreshing. We walk with the dogs or without them, enjoying the stunning natural world that England seems to offer in spades, without the scary undergrowth crawlers that Australia has as well. Fearlessly wandering into the unknown, we love those English rambles.