England Again

December 20, 2015 - Ashtead, Surrey, United Kingdom

I spent nine days in England with Granny (Rosemary) before my parents and my brother arrived yesterday. I had a great time relaxing with Granny, joining her in some of her regular activities, getting ready for Christmas, and visiting with my cousins, aunts, and uncles. Since I've always had much less time when I've come for Christmas, it was nice to have a few extra days to spend with family.

The day after I arrived, Granny and I went to see Jane Eyre at the Leatherhead Theatre (livestreamed from the production in London). There were some technical details at the beginning, but once it was going I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's an interesting combination of old-fashioned and modern – as Granny says, the characters keep having to climb ladders in their period dresses! Sometimes I find that kind of thing a bit distracting, but in this case it was fine. Combined with a minimalist set, great music (including an absolutely amazing singer), great actors for every part (even Pilot, Mr. Rochester's dog), and of course a good story, the play was fantastic. I would definitely recommend it if anyone has a chance to see it.

Granny and I spent part of Saturday decorating the Christmas tree and the house, which was great fun. Seeing the tree and the garland on the bannister brought back memories of all the lovely Christmases I've had in her house, and made me even more excited for this one. I also got to go to two different special advent services. The first one was at Andrew, Annette, and Elizabeth's church, and it was a Christingle service. I had never heard of that before, but it was a fun child-friendly service where everyone had a chance to make a Christingle: an orange with a candle and small candies on sticks stuck into it, and a red tie around it. Each of the parts of the Christingle symbolize something; for example, the orange represents the world and the candle the light of Christ, as was explained in a funny puppet show during the service. The other service was at Granny's church, and it was called “From Darkness into Light”. I really enjoyed the quiet, contemplative atmosphere and the way the church gradually brightened as hundreds of candles were lit one by one.

We also got to see two different Christmas-themed plays, one starring Dougie and one Elizabeth. Dougie played a sheep in his elementary school's show, and they had a special sheep dance to the “Sid Shuffle” from Ice Age 4 that Dougie was very good at. Elizabeth played Mary in the nativity play at her nursery, and was admirably attentive to her doll baby. She also knew the words to all the Christmas songs they sang, and looked very cool with her trumpet during the more rock-themed section! At the end of the show, Santa came and gave each of the children a present from his sack – Elizabeth wasn't entirely sure how she felt about Santa but she certainly appreciated the present!

As well as seasonal activities, I also joined Granny in some of her regular pursuits. On Monday, I went to Steph and Graeme's house with her to help look after Matilda (and Dougie when he came home from school). Tillie warmed up to me after a while, and Granny even got some ironing done, and then when Dougie got home we had great fun drawing a treasure map (highlights included poisonous snakes, a vulture with carrion, and a camel hiring/renting station for the treasure-seekers). On Tuesday, I went to the fitness center with Granny, and went for a run and a swim while she did aqua aerobics. I hadn't gotten any real exercise in a while so it was really nice. Then on Wednesday, I joined her walking group for a 4.7-mile walk around the Polesden Lacey estate. It was extremely muddy, but the weather was nice and the walk was beautiful. One of my favorite parts was an extremely cute little youth hostel called Tanners Hatch tucked into the woods in the middle of nowhere.

And now my parents and brother are here!!!! I was beyond excited to see them, since I hadn't for three months, and I won't be posting anything for the rest of my time in England since we all want lots of family time. I will try to update you all while I'm in Costa Rica, but I'm not sure what the situation will be with internet and electronics in general, so we'll see. I just wanted to let you know that if you don't hear anything from me for a while, it just means I'm having lots of fun in England, and then after January 7th, learning loads in Costa Rica. Thank you all again for reading and commenting; I miss all of you, so I smile every time there's a “New Comment” email in my inbox!


Ice Cream at Jane Eyre Intermission
Leatherhead Theatre
Decorating Granny's Christmas Tree
Granny's Bannister Garland


December 20, 2015
I suppose you finally get to see all those Christmas market ornaments in action.

Those advent services sound pretty amazing. I guess those people at UW trying to advocate "philosophy for children" should take church services as an example.
December 21, 2015
What a lovely Christmas you all will have! Greetings to Granny and all those making up the English branch of your family tree! Merry Christmas!!!
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