As I no longer live in the UK, I guess that I can now write about it as when I am there I’m officially a blonde abroad!
Last Christmas (I gave you my heart! – sorry I couldn’t resist!) I went to visit my family back in the good old UK. I hadn’t visited England in more than 18 months and so I was ready for my fix of salt and vinegar crisps, Yorkshire puddings and Jaffa Cakes (just 3 things that used to be part of my staple diet and things I can no longer get living in Israel). Can you believe you can’t get Jaffa Cakes in Israel – Jaffa IS IN Israel… anyway, I digress!
Of course, I wasn’t just going back for the food! My entire family still live there and I miss them a lot, s0 it was nice to be back in the family home for 10 days.
During my holiday I was also to visit London (to see friends) and Newcastle (to see my dad), so Leeds seemed to be a bit of a pit-stop along the way.
Now December in Tel Aviv was a blistering 25 degrees, but much to my shock, when I landed at Manchester Airport at 11pm, it was -6 degrees. It was also to my shock at how aclimatised I had become to the Tel Aviv weather, and the only thing that seemed to keep me from completely freezing to death were my Ugg boots, which I didn’t take off for my entire holiday… apart from to sleep in!
By the time I’d got my luggage and made the journey home to Leeds I was thoroughly exhausted, but it was lovely to be home with my mum and Anthony, my stepdad (and for the benefit of my mum who is likely to read this at some point, yes I was also happy to see Benji (the dog!). The streets were layered in a heavy coating of snow, which made me quite excited (despite that fact that it would be highly unlikely that I’d build a snowman during my stay!).
Whilst in Leeds, I went to Salt Aire for the day with some friends, which was lovely. We wandered round the old mill there (which is now a gallery) and I had a delicious sausage, mash & gravy for lunch (OK, food was also a big reason for my visit home – which will become very apparent as you read on!).
It was proving to be a lovely day, until my friend Ben threw a snowball at me! As the cold chunks of icy water slid their way down my back, I decided I’d had enough of these shenanigans and went home – but not before exacting my revenge on him with a giant snowball… or at least I tried to! Later on that night we all met up again for a tasty Chinese meal (another thing Tel Aviv doesn’t have much of… real Chinese food, as opposed to Thai food, which is everywhere!)
I went to visit my nana, and my (great) aunty and as I was leaving I had the fortune to bump into my uncle who lives opposite her (it sounds all very “Everybody Loves Raymond”, but I assure you it’s not!). During my time in Leeds I also spent a day with my mum shopping – as we ladies love to do! And I had a curry (also not many Indian restaurants in Tel Aviv, as opposed to Thai food, which is everywhere – I stress this because they really are everywhere!).
Next I headed onto London, but beforehand I had a nightmare journey! In the taxi to the train station the radio delightfully informed me that all trains heading south of Peterborough had been cancelled for the day due to the snow (not so lovely and exciting now is it??). I decided to press on in the taxi and hope there would be a solution once I got to the station, or at least a refund!
As I waited to find out about a refund/alternate route down south, I was told (along with a little old lady also trying to get to London), that a train from platform 12 would take me to London via Sheffield. Perfect I thought, as I picked up my bag and ran towards Platform 12. I was also told the train would be departing in 5 minutes (of course it was!) and it was the farthest platform. The little old lady followed me in hot pursuit!
I got there with seconds to spare and as I jumped on the train, I asked a station guard if this was the train to Sheffield… nothing like double checking (that would be my OCD kicking in again!).
“No. It’s the train to Plymouth”, he replied, “Sheffield got moved to Platform 9″ (of course it did!).
Off the train I jumped, still being followed by the little old lady and we headed for Platform 9 and onto Sheffield! I got there just in time and as I asked another station guard if this was indeed the train for Sheffield, I was informed it was, but that they wouldn’t hold the train for me all day!
Crikey – first they cancel my train, then they move it and then they shout at me for barely making it to the correct place on time! The poor little old lady behind me practically had to throw herself onto the train as it pulled out of the station as the station guard wouldn’t wait an extra 4 seconds!
The wait in Sheffield was long and freezing, but eventually the train came, I boarded and we headed for London.
I spent a couple of days down in London visiting some friends (that’s you Paul & Mel) who wouldn’t have the chance to come to Leeds for Christmas, as they’d just had a lovely little arrival a couple of weeks earlier – a beautiful daughter called Tali.
I also got to see many other friends (oh you want naming too do you! Fine – Melissa, Jamie, Nikki, Richard and Breed – hope I’m not forgetting anyone!) and some more family (Ron & James!) and enjoyed my time spent with them. Yes, don’t worry, I also managed to spend quite a bit of time shopping too… on Oxford Street (oh how I love thee!).
I didn’t really do anything touristy whilst in London, but I wasn’t bothered to as it was a journey to see friends not the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace etc… Seen them all before anyway!
Needless to say my train back to Leeds was cancelled due to “adverse weather conditions” (bloody snow) and as I was due to go back with Melissa on the train we found ourselves questioning how we would get there. Richard, our “hero” stepped in and saved the day and we had a very entertaining trip back up north in his car.
I spent Christmas Eve and Day in Leeds. Christmas Eve with friends at my local pub (as is tradition), Christmas Day at my mum’s eating turkey (as is tradition) and pudding at Melissa’s house (another tasty tradition!). In the evening, after visiting my nana again, my sister, bro-in-law, niece and I headed to Newcastle to visit my dad.
I was actually quite surprised to find that Newcastle wasn’t as cold as Leeds was! It was great being back in the city, even though it was for just a day. I was a student in Newcastle and so I have a real love for the city.
We enjoyed a relaxing night at his house and my sister, niece and I managed to sneak out for a couple of hours in the morning for a quick Boxing Day shopping session. As we returned back to the house, we realised the dad hadn’t bought any vegetables for the Boxing Day lunch and so he had to ask his girlfriend to pick some up on her way over!
We were very lucky that she did this as the turkey wasn’t what you might describe as “thoroughly cooked through”, so veggies was all that some of us ate! This is not a shocking turn of events for my dad, as he’s not the best cook in the world. But Marks & Spencer had actually done all the preparation for him and he only had to heat the damn thing up!
Later on in the evening, I headed back to Leeds as I was flying home early the next day and had to pack my bags. From all the shopping I’d done during my 10 day holiday, I was on the limited with my luggage allowance, but I managed to get everything to fit in one bag or another before I got to the airport.