Happy New Year. I hope you had a wonderful holiday. I had a nice time enjoying my first summer Christmas season. It was weird and different in a kind of fun way. Christmas is celebrated here in much the same way as it is in the U.S. from what I could tell, certainly in terms of decoration, presents, shopping, and lots of food. The food is more in line with British traditional Christmas meals which feature turkey or ham and British puddings (desserts) which I saw in all the stores labeled as christmas cake or pudding. Whatever you’re having for dessert, I’m pretty sure you’re meant to put custard on it cause everyone was buying that and it was prominently featured in all the stores. I could not find any egg nog and I blame the custard. Lots of people receive a big old ham from their employers for Christmas. Sarah brought one home on her last day at work before Christmas which she cooked and was nice enough to share with me. I gave them some of my lasagna in return. What they do have that is different is Boxing Day. The day after Christmas which traditionally was the day people opened their presents/boxes. It is really the same as our day after Thanksgiving. A huge shopping day filled with sales and bargains and loads of people. I stayed home.
What I think is really nice for people here is that pretty much everyone has at least a week or two off from work. Many businesses close for about one to two weeks if not more. Two days after new years day I went to the local grocery store and it was the only place open in a strip mall of about 15 little shops, food places, and stores. New Zealanders by law have 4 weeks of vacation per year, some people get more. It does not have to be earned, it is yours the day you start. Lucky New Zealanders!!! Many of them do have to use some of that during this time of year if they want to be paid during the time their office is closed, but I wouldn’t be complaining about that. It’s the holiday season and early summer, a beautiful time to be on a forced vacation. Of course, that means everyone is on vacation at the same time so popular places can be a bit crowded. It didn’t affect me much, my local beaches have plenty of room. It’s a nice atmosphere living in a country on vacation, every one is more relaxed; they smile more. Even the people who are at work seem more easygoing, it’s still that holiday feel when no one is really doing much. Here it lasts much longer that it does in the U.S.
I’ve been living here in the country with my British neighbors for about two months now and I only recently (a few weeks ago) deciphered the meaning of their standard greeting “Are you all right?”. Sarah likes to say “Are you all right, lovely?” (an endearment which I have totally embraced). I really thought for some time that they meant what we Americans would mean asking that question and I started getting concerned about their concern about me. I also probably over shared many times trying to explain how all right I was. Because all they are saying is hello, maybe how are you? They’ve also explained the British love of custard. They do put it on everything: pie, fruit, crumble, ice cream, cake. I recently made a strawberry rhubarb pie and shared it with them but we had ice cream with it. I decided to also try the custard. Here’s a pic of the pie, the custard and the custard pie.
It was actually very tasty. I’m in favor of custard.
Shortly after New Years, I walked out my front door and discovered this wonderful surprise in the fields:
I have no idea how they got there, whose they are, or how long they will be here. Steve (the owner of the property) didn’t bother to inform any of us about this development. So, I don’t even know if they have names. They just make me happy so I will enjoy them while they’re here.
One of our trees came into bloom in the last few days and I think it is so pretty. I’m not sure what the name of it is, but have a look: