This Chistmas has been one of my favourite ever. Last year was the first we spent with Ross and, prior to it becoming mine and Grace’s home, we stayed at his house and his family came to us. This year we made the trip – and a return for Ross – to Portland in Dorset where Ross’ parents live.
This is one of my favourite places to be. I love Ross’ family to bits. They are wonderful people, very welcoming and I always look forward to seeing them – as does Grace. Not only that but their house overlooks Chesil Beach and Portland Harbour making it a peaceful little haven.
We got there last Sunday, and were greeted by Ross’ parents and Ross’ Auntie Sylvia – a lovely lady who, along with Ross and I, shares a passion for the theatre. Ross and Grace have started to form this habit where she sits on his shoulders and looks over the balcony into the lounge to announce our arrival! Together we set off to The George Inn, a pub in a small 17th Century building reported to be the oldest inhabited building on the island. Returning from there we all sat down together to watch ‘Elf’ whereupon various adults took it in turns to fall asleep! Before Grace took her leave for bed in the evening we had two games of cards which she loves - ‘Put and Take’ and ‘Bonk’ - Grace came second in both.
The following day was fairly relaxed and I really felt for poor Moira, Ross’ Mum, who had come down with a bug. She was very ill but I was impressed with her ability to soldier on quietly, no complaining, just being the usual Mum in the form of a complete rock (I am certain all Mums do this!). The rest of us set off for a quick trip to Tesco and we were pleasantly surprised to see how quiet it was. The staff were all having a lovely time as they came to work dressed in their nightwear. On our return, one of the neighbours popped round for a visit and to deliver a beautiful woodland scene cake he had made. I wasn’t surprised when he started telling us stories of how he had been a patisserie chef on board ‘The Canberra’.
Anna, Ross’ sister, and her boyfriend, Gus arrived in the evening with their two dogs, Salvador and Zeeba. Grace loves dogs and played with Zeeba loads. Ross and I got to talking again about getting a dog in the future. Then we departed for the traditional family meal at the pub/restaurant ‘The Marquis of Granby’. The restaurant had a lovely atmosphere, friendly and efficient service and a pudding cabinet to die for! Gus chose the biggest rib meal EVER in the form of a giant pig! At dinner Grace behaved impecably and looked beautiful in her lovely new pink dress (a complete bargain at £4 from eBay!). Sylvia, who was sitting next to me, told me that Grace was an absolute credit to me. I was so proud
Returning home, Grace’s bedtime story came in the form of ‘The Snowman and the Snowdog’ courtesy of Channel 4. It was as beautiful as the first Snowman and Ross and I shed a little tear at the end. It was then time to prepare the milk, mince pie and carrot ready for Father Christmas and his reindeer. Placing her stocking on the end of the bed and settled down to sleep. Ross and I stayed and played cards with the rest of the family before giving the jolly red man a helping hand!
Lying in bed and about to drop off, an immense thunderstorm took off. The rain on the flat roof above our bedroom was deafening and I was certain that Grace was going to wake up – to my surprise she remained asleep throughout and there she stayed until 8am the next morning. Sitting up in bed, she shouted ‘Santa has been!’ and clambered up onto our bed ready to empty the contents of a full stocking. The first item she saw was a book of the film ‘Brave’. She raised her eyes up out of the window and said lovingly ‘thank you Santa’.
Once breakfast was over and done and we were all washed and dressed, it was time to enter the present-packed lounge. Grace was far more restrained than last year and managed to unwrap her presents in a far less rushed manner! I got some wonderful presents including a onesie and some great funny t-shirts from Ross – you need to be a Star Wars fan and/or Dr Who fan to really appreciate them! I have also always admired the mirrors in Ross’ parents house made from driftwood by Richard, Ross’ Dad, and we were delighted to see that he had made Ross and I and Anna and Gus one. A definite fixture for our new downstairs bathroom. I was so glad that Ross and Grace were pleased with their presents – Grace with her Merida (from Brave) doll and pink bunny ice skate covers and Ross with his two-hour recording studio session amongst other things.
When the festivities of the Christmas dinner, pudding and crackers were over we all took time to relax. Ross and I slept together on the sofa whilst Grace played quietly with Merida and Angus the horse. Then, as Ross continued sleeping, we watched ‘Lady and the Tramp’. A tired, but happy Grace, ventured off to bed once winning a game of ‘Put and Take’ and the adults continued the games with ‘Scattergories’. We then had a bite to eat and all said our goodnights.
The following morning we were up bright and early to make the two and a half hour journey to my Stephanie and Steve’s house, my sister and her husband, in Camberley where most of my family were descending. This has also started to become a tradition. As soon as we got there, Grace and Emily, my niece, were off up to her room to play Barbies and that was the last we saw of them until the gorgeous buffet lunch was served.
Once food had been eaten, we sat in the lounge and those who we hadn’t seen yet exchanged gifts and then exchanged chat and stories.Grace had specifically wrapped up a present for my Mum. She wanted to give Granny some chocolate coins as she had received two bags and she made sure that she wrote the note to her herself. It was so relaxed and it felt warm and lovely being with the group of people I love the most - my fabulous family. Davina, my sister, who is a teacher in Guildford told us all about her recent visit to Auschwitz and the concentration camps. It moved me to tears to hear all about it so goodness only knows how it must have felt to have been there in person.
Then, all too soon, it was time to drop Grace with her father and make the journey back to our home and our cats. We sat and relished the peace and quiet, cuddled Muse, petted Gypsy and started our latest ‘Greys Anatomy’ session happy in the knowledge that we have spent time with all the people – and pets – we love the most this Christmas time.