The 12 days of Christmas

We spent the 12 days of Christmas 2014 in and around High Wycombe, enjoying time with family and friends. Here are some of the highlights.

On the first day of Christmas (Christmas Day), we went to Claire’s house. Some of her neighbours were there, so the present opening was already under way. Later Andrew, Ellie, Hope and Isobel arrived, and the festivities continued! When they left we walked back to our flat. Claire, Charlie and Oscar followed a bit later; Ian and Claire helped the boys practise their new roller skates on the playground, while Sandie cooked the Christmas dinner.

Now, what do you suppose this is?

Now, what do you suppose this is?

Just what I wanted!

Just what I wanted!

Unwrapathon!

Unwrapathon!

Detritus

Detritus

So, Opa, how exactly does this work?

So, Opa, how exactly does this work?

I love my new scarf!

I love my new scarf!

I love my new dressing gown!

I love my new dressing gown!

Roller skate practice

Roller skate practice

After eating we all went back to Claire’s, where Ian was in demand to help with science experiments and assembling toys. Later the boys’ father called with yet more presents. When the boys were finally in bed, we and Claire collapsed in front of the TV with hot snacks and more drinks. A happy if exhausting Christmas Day!

Toy assembly, with expert supervision

Toy assembly, with expert supervision

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

On the second day of Christmas (Boxing Day), the family gathered at our flat: Claire and the boys, Andrew, Ellie and the girls, and our nephew Chris. Paul and Alexa were due to be here but sadly were unable to make the journey as Alexa was recovering from pneumonia. However, due to the wonders of skype they were able to join in what has now become a Boxing Day tradition in the Schagen family: we collect small souvenirs from our travels over the year, wrap and put them with lots of recycled paper into a sack to make up a lucky dip. Everyone takes turns to pull out and unwrap a parcel; they can then negotiate swaps if someone else has a souvenir that they would prefer. It always goes down well, and we have a lot of laughs.

4 grandchildren

4 grandchildren

Lego masters

Lego masters

Computer gaming wizards

Computer gaming wizards

This one's for you

This one’s for you

When the lucky dip was finished, we said goodbye to Paul and Alexa – even skype has its limitations so they were unable to join in the second Schagen Boxing Day tradition: lunch at the George and Dragon in Marlow. As usual, this was a good leisurely meal, enjoyed by all present, and it was past 4 pm when we left the pub and drove back to Claire’s house. Soon after, Andrew & co had to leave, to drive back to Kent; Chris was able to stay a bit longer before he set off for London. When the boys were in bed, Claire got out the cards and we played Oh hell! – yet another Schagen tradition, but one not confined to Boxing Day!

Chris, decorated for valour

Chris, decorated for valour

Lunch in the pub (1)

Lunch in the pub (1)

Lunch in the pub (2)

Lunch in the pub (2)

Cousins together

Cousins together

On the third day of Christmas, things returned to normal – whatever that is! Claire and Sandie did some shopping, and bought new winter coats in the sales. Later Claire was off to Dubai, so the boys came to stay with us again.

Large cat spotted in Wycombe - police and emergency services alerted

Large cat spotted in Wycombe – police and emergency services alerted

On the fourth day of Christmas, it was very very cold! The boys practised on their roller skates, but had to be very careful because the ground was icy and slippery.

Roller skates in the frost

Roller skates in the frost

Book at bedtime

Book at bedtime

On the fifth day of Christmas, Charlie started a two-day football school – fortunately indoors! Claire arrived back that afternoon.

In the bleak midwinter

In the bleak midwinter

On the sixth day of Christmas, we went by bus to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, near Aylesbury. Following her operation in October, Sandie had been given an appointment to discuss the possibility of radiotherapy. After a more detailed (and rather more negative) explanation of her problem, a cancer specialist explained the pros and cons of treatment. We decided to leave it for now, but of the problem recurs we will think again.

After leaving the hospital we did some shopping in Aylesbury, and were home in time for Sandie to go to her second Pilates class at the gym. We are trying to make the most of our membership, but she is not convinced that Pilates is for her.

Christmas decorations in Aylesbury

Christmas decorations in Aylesbury

On the seventh day of Christmas (New Year’s Eve), Sandie tried a yoga class – but that was definitely not her cup of tea! In the afternoon Maggi arrived, then Claire and the boys joined us for New Year’s Eve drinks. We all went to the local Pizza Hut (Charlie’s choice) for dinner, then it was back to Claire’s house for more drinks.   About 11 pm we were invited to join Claire’s neighbour Caroline and her cousin Mary. We all trooped next door and spent about three hours playing a game called Apples to Apples. It was new to all of us except Caroline, but it was great fun and we had lots of laughs while seeing the New Year in.

3 humans and a dog do a jigsaw

3 humans and a dog do a jigsaw

On the eighth day of Christmas (New Year’s Day), Maggi returned home to Gloucestershire, but Claire and the boys came to dinner.

On the ninth day of Christmas, Sandie and Claire took the boys to Windsor. They’d heard that there was a winter funfair there, but it proved to be very small and disappointing. Still, they had fun touring the charity shops and finding bargains.

Whee!

Whee!

Windsor's regal decorations

Windsor’s regal decorations

On the tenth day of Christmas, we went to see Ridley Scott’s film Exodus: Gods and Kings. We were not impressed!

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Sandie went with Claire to another class at the gym, but decided she was definitely too old! Later we borrowed the car and drove to Twickenham; we had dinner and a very pleasant evening with our friends Robin and Margaret.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Sandie and Claire went to zumba, thought the instructor was great and really enjoyed the session. Definitely the best of the classes that Sandie has tried. Ian (not keen on classes) went to the gym for the 11th time.

Tomorrow we shall take the decorations down, dismantle the tree and pack it all away. The Christmas season will be over for another year!

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