My Christmas in Pleshey

Trip Start Jul 03, 2005
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Trip End Ongoing


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Friday, January 20, 2006

I realize that Christmas was quite awhile ago, but what can I say...I'm perpetually late! Late is better than never...yes, but unfortunatly many of the goodies are lost to the memory. Yet, I've always been too much for details so I guess at least now even if it's a condensed version, it will only have the top of the crop!

So, as most probably know I had the very wonderful privalage of spending my first Christmas away with my good friends (aka pseudo parents) Jim and Layla, and the rest of his immediate family at Jim's childhood home. Welcome to Essex...well, if I remember correctly Essex is like the county and Pleshey is the actual village. Yes, village, I kid you not! I distinctly remember when we were driving to the park to walk the dogs one morning I saw a road sign labeled: The Street. Oh man, if that doesn't describe to you how small this place was, nothing will! But, even better than the fact that I was in a village, this village once had a castle in it, and though the castle was now gone the huge mound and MOAT still remained! Plus the oldest bridge in England, which connected the inner ring to where the castle once stood (I think that's how the layout was?) Anyway, Jim said that Shakespear had made mention to this bridge in one of his writings...very spif!

Jim's parents (Dave and Jen)didn't actually live in the village, they were just outside of it in a house surrounded by pastures and some distant neighbors. Walking in the front door that first night we were bombarded with dogs and people and I knew that I was going to fit in just fine, and I did. The entire family: Mom, Dad, Sister and Husband, they all treated me like one of the clan, feeding me, liquoring me up and calling me Strawbs.

So what did we do? Well, in the mornings we walked the dogs..this lasted an hour or so and it was great, fresh air and the English countryside. Christmas eve we each got a stocking (very long and stretchy sock) and filled it with the odds and ends of wrapped presents. Filled...well, crammed as much as the poor sock could ever dream of holding! Amongst the dog walking and stocking filling there was eating, drinking and more eating. Jim's dad, he was so funny with the drinks. I had never tried Sherry or Port, and thus he took it upon himself to properly introduce me. He fills up three glasses, dry, medium dry, and sweet. "Drink these Strawbs" What can I do, I always seemed to have a desperate need to please him, not in a fear way, but a I want him to be proud of me way. So down the hatch.."Oh I like the medium dry one..." and so he pours me another, medium dry. Now, don't get me wrong, these people are not alcholics, not by any means...they are British. They don't drink a lot in short bursts to rid themselves of worry or what have you, they drink little by little over the entire day and night so you are left with a slightly fuzzy, overall good feeling until you fall asleep. Well, they have a good feeling all day...I'm a light weight and usually found my self falling asleep on the sofa during trivial pursuit or dragging my self to bed much earlier...but they accepted this shortcoming.

After dinner we gathered in the living room to sing Christmas songs! Yes sang, Jim's sister played the piano and we read from the carol books and sang! I tell you what this is by far the most traditional Christmas I have ever spent! So we sing, stuff the stockings then head out to midnight mass...but not before a quick pint at the pub just across the street! All the locals smiling and wishing a merry christmas, then heading to the church. The mass was good, but I can't honestly say I remember too much other than the church was very old and the pastor was a women.

Christmas day...everyone up, and onto the parents bed. Everyone, including the dogs. Well, that's how it's suppose to be, not all of us could fit so two stayed on the floor, but I was lucky enough to be a bed person. So, now we open the presents in our stockings, yes, even me. I was really suprised and touched by just how far everyone went to include me, I had a full stocking, and presents under the tree too.

For the rest of the time we did the usual walk the dogs, eat drink eat and play games, no telly over Christmas. Layla came down on Boxing day, and Jim's uncle and girlfriend too. I can't remember which day it was, but one morning the dog walk consisted of all of us walking to a pub I think called The Spotted Dog. It was a good walk and when we got there we had some pints and played darts for the next few hours...good times.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something but I just can't keep rambling...obviously I had a great time, everyone was hilarious and very good to me. Christmas away from home ended up being the least lonely that I think I've been since I left, and that was a very pleasant surprise.
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