Christmas…? What Christmas?!

What with my upcoming trip to India, I’ve been struggling to find time to fit in writing around all the planning.  And when I plan a trip, I really plan a trip.  No bars spared, I will put all my energy, concentration and every waking minute into making it as incredible an adventure as it can possibly be.  I may end up completely drained and about to pass out from exhaustion but it will all have been worth it in the end!

For this trip, as well as getting an extortionate amount of tips from other bloggers and twitterers (the #travelindia hashtag by Poonam has been super helpful), I have been reading up on India from my stack of books.  This is something I always do when I go away and I think it’s a great way to research.

My big stack of India books

My big stack of India books

I’ve also been collecting a delicious list of food, food and more food to eat while we’re away.  The list is so long that, at this rate, I don’t think we’ll even get time to see the Taj Mahal!  Foods such as thali and dosas have been making me dribble since reading about them, and drinks like chai and lassi sound oh so good.

The fact that it is now December has not been lost on me.  Christmas is looming and I haven’t even given it a second’s thought.  The closest I’ve come to buying any presents was taking my little sister to meet JLS and get her album signed a couple of weeks ago (and no, I did not get anything signed for myself!).   I have not even browsed the shop windows for any presents, and the Christmas tree and decorations are staying firmly shut away in the cupboard at home.  I’m not normally this miserable at Christmas, honest.  Usually at this time of year, you’d see me jumping up and down with excitement, begging me to stop singing cheesy Christmas songs.  But because I’m going to be away this year, my very first Christmas away from my family ever, I am desperately trying not to get into the festive spirit.  This way, when it comes to Christmas day and I wake up in the middle of a hot desert in India, with no sack full of presents from Santa, no yummy roast made with love (and a few arguments) by my nan and grandad, and no silly games to play (and again, argue, over) with the rest of the family, I think I may just cry 😦

But I am really looking forward to having a completely different Christmas away from home, just me and Alex.  I’ve tried to make it as different as possible from our normal Christmas, by timing it so that we will wake up in the middle of the Thar Desert on Christmas Day.  This, at least, will make it a Christmas to remember.

The desert camp in Jaisalmer where we'll be staying over Christmas

The desert camp in Jaisalmer where we’ll be staying over Christmas

Between all the travel planning, I have managed to squeeze in a couple of fun adventures in London though.

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to a Lapland in London event at Ice Bar sponsored by Cosmos.  Not only was the Ice Bar somewhere I had wanted to go for a while, but I also love Lapland and it’s one of my favourite family holidays from when I was younger.  Okay, I wasn’t that young, I was a teenager, but if you go to Lapland, it’s pretty much the law that you HAVE to sit on Santa’s knee however old you are!

Because this was a blogger event we were treated to free drinks all night and I have to say that the Northern Light cocktail was chilled to perfection and fitted right in with the theme of the evening.

We started off with a bit of fun – some ice sculpting!  In a team with Kasha of Lines of Escape and Jess of The Fly Away American, we attempted to recreate a polar bear, the original of which received the obligatory oohs and ahhs.  Kasha and I took a more gentle approach, while Jess hacked away at our polar bear (losing us a big chunk of its behind in the process!) and we ended up with something that looked less like a polar bear and more like…erm…a jagged lump of ice.

Bet you can't even spot the difference ;)

Bet you can’t even spot the difference 😉

We then donned our Little Blue Riding Hood-esk cloaks and thick gloves and made our way into the -5°C Ice Bar where the walls, bar, tables and even your glasses are all made from ice straight out of Sweden.  Despite the cosy gloves, my fingers started to get a bit numb towards the end and my glass starting melting where I kept taking sips from it!  So the 40 minute time slot you get inside is perfectly enough!

Pic courtesy of The Fly Away American

Pic courtesy of The Fly Away American

The bar and my glass both made of ice

The bar and my glass both made of ice

I also managed to squeeze in a catch up with Kasha this week.  Despite me being born in London and living here my whole life, I left the choosing of the venue down to Kasha, even though she has only lived in London for the last year, as she seems to find some great little spots.  And this one was definitely a good find.  Bibimbap, a South Korean café style restaurant in Soho, which proved to be very popular from the queue that was waiting outside before the place even opened.  Neither of us had ever tried Korean food but it was surprisingly tasty and has left me wanting to go back again.

Adventures aside, trying not to get into the Christmas spirit is proving to be very difficult when the streets are filled with bright twinkly lights and a giant snow globe in London’s Piccadilly, work, friend’s houses and restaurants are full of decorations and Christmas songs are on repeat in every shop I go into.  But even though I won’t really get a traditional English Christmas this year, I know that it will be one I will never forget.

14 thoughts on “Christmas…? What Christmas?!

    • Ayla says:

      Yes, I read Shantaram a while ago – enjoyed it mostly but it was pretty difficult to get into at times. Not sure whether it’s completely true though! Thank you 🙂

  1. Jess {JessinBelgium} says:

    Cannot wait to read about your posts in India!! I’ve done a few holidays away from home – as long as you keep busy they can be really very special 🙂 And I have no doubt you will have any problems there…

    • Ayla says:

      Thank you Jess. Really looking forward to Christmas away will just be very strange being in a hot country without my family but I’m sure it will be special still!

  2. Kasha says:

    LOVE this post.

    I’m so excited to see the photos and hear the stories from your India adventure. The first Christmas away from your family is always tough, but just think of the memories you’ll have 😉

    Thank you for meeting up with me this week! I’m still daydreaming about the food from Bibimbap. We must do another foodie adventure when you come back.

    Also, Churchill actually looks pretty decent in your photos… are you sure that it’s ours? 😉

    Muchos hugs to you, my lovely!

    • Ayla says:

      Yes, it will definitely be a Christmas to remember!
      Haha me too! Hot dogs and champagne next time! And of course that’s Churchill, he looked wonderful, you clearly weren’t looking properly 😉

  3. Kelli says:

    Enjoy India Ayla, i am super jealous, its one of places i would love to visit one day. Really looking forward to hearing your stories when you are back. It also doesnt feel like Christmas for me either being away from my family in sunny South Africa but i am looking forward to a Christmas Braai. take care x

    • Ayla says:

      Hopefully I can inspire you to go with my posts and pics then! I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful Christmas out there. Will be very different but from what I hear Christmas is great in South Africa. Enjoy! xx

  4. The Vagabond Baker says:

    You are going to have one of the best Christmases in your life Ayla! Wow, it’s going to be incredible!

    I’m in China for this festive period and although there are plenty of Christmas trees and decorations it just doesn’t feel like Christmas at all. My last couple have been super festive by going to Switzerland just beforehand, the snow, the markets, the Glühwein … ah so festive!

    But when it gets to Xmas day, and you do whatever you can to feel Christmassy then it will be amazing! We are meeting up with some travel friends in south china so we can have a travel-family Christmas day, it’s going to be so much fun!

    Have an amazing trip, can’t wait to read about it! xxxx

    • Ayla says:

      I can imagine Switzerland being all festive but China will be very different! Will be nice for you to have friends there as well to celebrate with. I can’t imagine us finding a Christmas tree in the middle of the desert or a roast dinner for that matter! But I’m sure it will be a great day! Enjoy yours! xx

  5. Lindsey says:

    Hi ayla, I can identify with your upcoming Christmas experience away from home. We’ll be in rajasthan too though in Udaipur over Christmas. We’re currently in jaipur and loving our 5 week tour of India. It’s amazing, fascinating and humbling at times. The people have been really kind and the food is fantastic. I’ll follow along with your adventures on Twitter! You can find me too if you like: @cre8ivetravelr enjoy your trip!

    • Ayla says:

      We’re heading to Jaipur today and very much looking forward to Rajasthan. Oh yes the food is amazing! I can’t stop eating! Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip too! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s