Thursday, December 19, 2013

Another festive visit to Britain complete...

Once again our time in Britain visiting friends and family is over, and with new spousal visas stamped into our passports we're ready to return to L.A. to enjoy our own special brand of Christmas.

Antarctica Explorer Robert Scott sculpture Cardiff Bay
Robert Scott Memorial sculpture Cardiff Bay
We've certainly made the most of this unexpected trip back to the U.K. and have even enjoyed some unseasonably mild weather. Visiting family in Wales we were even lucky enough to see some clear blue sky (although it didn't last long) and we even managed to avoid the technical difficulties and fog that grounded flights into and out of London's Heathrow Airport.

Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay
Mermaid Quay Cardiff Bay
Being back in Cardiff I couldn't resist another visit, my second of the year, to see the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay and take in the latest displays, including costumes and props from the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor, and many more delights besides.

Doctor Who Experience, Cardiff Bay
Doctor Who costume exhibit
In addition to an advance family turkey Christmas lunch and a few training runs in the hilly countryside, we also found the time for a game of cricket on the beach at Porthcawl, after being drenched by some icy rain of the sea (which was more like Welsh weather).

Playing cricket on Porthcawl Beach
Cricket on Porthcawl Beach
Back in London whilst out Christmas shopping, we also saw some other people being sporty and also joining in on all the festive merriment with a jolly, and chilly, charity run in their underwear.

Christmas charity runners
Festive runners in underwear
Further along Sloane Street we also came across some more eye-catching festive store window displays, like this fun glittery affair for designer fashion label, Roberto Cavalli.

Bird and wildlife are quite popular choices this holiday season and if you like these dazzling critters, be sure to also check out The Bear & The Hare John Lewis Christmas windows at Peter Jones department store.

Roberto Cavalli Christmas window displays in London
Roberto Cavalli Christmas window glittering Ostrich
Roberto Cavalli Christmas window Polar Bear
Roberto Cavalli Christmas window glittering penguin
Back in Chiswick where were were staying, this irreverent giant brussels sprout display in the White Stuff shop window also screamed Christmas for me.

In fact being back in the U.K. this close to Christmas with all the street decorations, festive windows, TV commercials and work parties, you realise how much bigger the festive season is here. After all Brits don't celebrate a Thanksgiving, so this is the BIGGEST holiday of the year (complete with a Boxing Day, crackers and everything).

The White Stuff giant brussels sprout Christmas window
White Stuff giant brussels sprout Christmas window
Giant brussels sprout Christmas window
Aside from enjoying the festive sights, being back in London we also got a chance to catch up with lots of friends and even to celebrate the last birthday of my thirties with a lovely evening at Bread Street Kitchen. Now I need to get back on a plane before I eat any more pizza, curry, sausages, sticky toffee pudding and all of the favourite festive food stuffs I miss at this time of year.

One of the sad things we learned when we arrived for our visit in the U.K. was the passing of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and spent the rest of our stay reading and watching the tributes to the visionary freedom fighter, including seeing these floral tributes to the man outside the Southbank's Royal Festival Hall.

Floral tributes to Nelson Mandela
Floral tributes Nelson Mandela London Southbank
Let's hope we can take his message of peace into this festive season of peace on Earth and goodwill to all.

Here's to a safe journey back to L.A. and a joyous reunion with our pup Cooper from doggie daycare tomorrow (who we've been watching every day on webcam for over two weeks)...

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