Archive for December, 2005

One of my Christmas presents to Aude’s parents was tickets to the West End musical, High Society, playing at the Shaftesbury Theatre. So it’s off to London we go!

High Society in London

Unfortunately, I agree with the review in the Guardian. This one was definitely better as a movie.

Still, it wasn’t a total loss. We spent the day shopping the West End and catching the first of the post-Christmas sales, we had fantastic dim sum at one of my favourite restaurants, Royal China. And we discovered a great little Italian restaurant around the corner from the theatre, recommended by the booking office.

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The subject of a White Christmas is always quite important in the UK — not just because everyone likes a white Christmas, but because it’s one of the many things upon which you can place a wager in the UK. Each year, bookmakers give odds on a White Christmas, although the long odds tell you how often they pay out — a White Christmas in London is a very rare event indeed.

And they really dodged the bullet this year. We had an unseasonably warm Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but temperatures turned bitterly cold overnight and we ended up with several inches of snow on Boxing Day. (For those of you who aren’t quite clear about exactly what Boxing Day is, you can find more information here.)

Canterbury - Boxing Day - Photo 1

Canterbury - Boxing Day - Photo 2

Canterbury - Boxing Day - Photo 3

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Christmas at Harrods

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Much to our surprise, Aude’s brother Jerome arrived on the 23rd, ahead of schedule, so we had everyone here for dinner on Christmas Eve. Aude, her mother, and I went to the Christmas Carol service at Canterbury Cathedral while her father and brother did some shopping. We stayed up until midnight, and according to French tradition (or at least the tradition in Aude’s family), we opened our presents at midnight.

Christmas day was a relaxed affair — the weather was unseasonably warm. After breakfast, we headed out for a walk around the town and had a pint at the local pub, Simple Simon’s. Everyone else continued on the walk while I went home to cook dinner.

And we ate. And we ate. And we ate.

Foie gras, caviar and smoked salmon. Goose, stuffing, parsnips, carrots, red cabbage, green beans, roast potatoes and more. And bread-and-butter pudding to top it all off.

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Aude’s entire family arrived last night via different modes of transport. Aude’s parents flew in, only slightly delayed, from Nice. They’re going to be dressed casually for the next day or two, since Easyjet managed to lose their luggage (and all their Christmas presents) on the way. We’re hoping for a Christmas miracle — the airline is supposed to be couriering everything sometime today. Aude’s brother, Jerome, came directly from Paris on the Eurostar and arrived about midnight last night.

I was up early this morning wrapping presents — everything’s tucked under the tree and looking good. Aude, on the other hand, is tucked up in bed, sick as a dog with a cold.

Once everyone finally surfaces, we’re off for a traditional pub lunch at a country pub just outside Canterbury — roast beef, yorkshire pudding, and all the trimmings. I’ve got to collect my goose later this afternoon and start on Christmas dinner, but otherwise it’s a quiet day. It’s unseasonably warm and sunny, but they’re predicting much colder temperatures and snow on Boxing Day.

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I got a ‘secret Santa’ present from one of my friends in the US – three boxes containing what looks like a full southern breakfast. Grits, red beans, coffee, Hershey’s chocolate syrup (presumably for hot chocolate?), and a copy of Bill Bryson’s “I’m a Stranger Here Myself”.

The third box was labelled for customs purposes as ‘cologne’ and ‘presidential souvenirs’, which turned out to be a bottle of Southern Comfort and several Cuban cigars, lending a particularly nice touch to this truly decadent breakfast.

Secret Santa Present

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Well, it seems that everyone else is leaving Canterbury. Our friend, Julien, has taken a new job with GSK in France. We went down to the pub for a few drinks, and someone pulled out a pair of safety goggles. And we wonder why scientists never seem to have girlfriends?

Matt in goggles

Giorgio Armani it ain’t.

Anne-Laure and Julien

Scientists in their native habitat.

Aude and Julien

I don’t worry too much about Aude.

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