After a 31 month exile (my longest ever time away) I arrived back home in Britain on the 22nd December but I somehow never felt any reverse-culture shock as the days went by. Christmas eve was spent in my hometown of Market Harborough (Leicestershire) where I was re-united with my old school mates and nearly double figures were reached in the pint stakes as we spent many hours talking complete b*ollocks. No pleasantries, greetings or catch-up stories for us I can tell you!
Christmas Day at my parents house for the first time in three years included the bonus visit of my sister Lorna and her husband-to-be Stuart. Never really appreciated the day too much in the past but you certainly can after quite a few ones away. Crackers, jokes, party hats, a turkey dinner, mince pies and a few presents to open was definitely way better than the last two years when I’ve just been pottering around in Fukuoka and Ho Chi Minh City respectively. Having brought a stack of Japanese related presents for everyone it was nice to see their reactions (bemusement in many cases!) when they unwrapped them after dinner.
Boxing Day (26th December) was a great occasion with the Fernie Meet mid-morning which is basically some traditional hunt event where about 1000 people congregate on the green in Great Bowden among some horses (and dogs) which the 50 or so huntsmen and women eventually ride off on to hunt some foxes….or at least they did do that last part before the ban. Not sure what they do do now to be honest.
Once that was done I left my parents to go in the nearby pub to start 11 hours of drinking with my mate Sam and his family and other hangers-on. After a few expensive hours there we moved on to his family home for a house party and following on from the previous days interactive dvd quiz I was again involved in another family battle of the brains which were both good fun.