Ok, because (a) it’s now mid-January and Xmas is well in the past and (b) people’s families are largely less interesting if you’re not actually in them, I am going to speed through the Christmas break.
The point here is we had an 11 day period between taking off in San Diego to come home to the UK, and taking off in London to get to Thailand, in which to cram all the various relatives, friends and festivities we could handle.
And then a few more than we could handle, for good measure.
So, here’s the whistlestop tour, and after that we’ll get back to the training and travelling stuff.
21st December 2012
Kicking off with an early start (the car had to be back by 2pm), we hurtled down the freeway from Costa Mesa to San Diego, scooping up a fish taco or four on the way.
All racing behind us, we then had an eight and a half hour wait in San Diego airport, which is in the process of renovations.
After a 10 hour flight through the night, and some exemplarily rude BA flight attendants (watching a six foot something chap refuse to help a woman load luggage into the overhead locker was awkward) we landed in the UK.
22nd December 2012
Where it was already nighttime, the next day.
Another hire car, and a chance to switch my brain into left hand drive, manual control mode.
Andy’s official job was navigator, but unofficially he was in charge of feeding me various combos of chocolate, cheesy biscuits and dried tuna jerky so I could keep my eyes open for the two hour drive to his mum’s in Wiltshire.
Family Part One, the boys vs girls edition. Trip to the pub for the former group, silly cocktails and tapas for the latter.
24th December 2012
25th December 2012
Up at 6am for the Present Opening Ceremony.
Fuelled largely by coffee and excitement, Andy finally got his hands on the Shoyoroll Gold Star (ordered in America and trapped in customs for a couple of weeks).
It didn’t disappoint.
After the heady Shoyoroll rush, plus a full-on Christmas lunch (that he cooked), Andy needed a power nap.
I will point out, for the benefit of his mum's exemplary housekeeping reputation, that the piles of stuff all over the bed are because we hadn't managed to properly unpack by this point, and were existing in a weird holiday-clothes-with-a-woolly-scarf mode.
Well holiday clothes, scarves and an obligatory festive jumper.
Ten minutes later, it was time to head over to his Dad’s for a second helping of Xmas dinner, topped off with way too much chocolate.
26th December 2012
More Extreme Chocolate Eating (my Atos endurance training was not wasted).
27th December 2012
We drive down to my mum’s in Kent for Xmas part, well, I’m not sure even I can keep track at this point.
My mother is not naturally a fan of the season, but had pulled out all of the stops to decorate our bedroom with reindeer, snowmen and twinkly stuff.
Aside from one terrifying moment where I mistook the rustling of the helium balloons for an intruder in the middle of the night, it was much appreciated.
28th, 29th December 2012
More family of various flavours and combinations.
30th December 2012
A round-trip to London – girly lunch for me, burger and martial arts chat for Andy.
After eleven weeks away, three different cities and numerous houses, the notion of ‘home’ is actually wavering slightly. Having vehemently defended living in London for the last 20 years, we’re starting to contemplate other options (living by the sea for example).
Sadly, despite the likelihood of this turning out to be a seminal 'life realisation,' I forgot to take any photos to demonstrate the point. So you'll have to make do with a slightly awkward Christmas-deco-inspired self portrait. Still, it was jolly fun.
New Year’s Eve. A time for celebrations, champagne, parties, bars and kissing strangers at midnight (actually I’ve never managed that last bit, even in singler times).
Or you could do what we did and stay in, have a nice bit of dinner, half a glass of wine, put on an impromptu BJJ demonstration/gi catwalk and attempt to keep our eyes open till midnight.
The final minutes were headily spent folding laundry, ready to stuff in our cases (the Asiana website had threatened a total of one 20kg bag, which is challenging when you’ve got two gis on board) the next day, and by 12.20am we were both in bed.
1st January 2013
New Year, new destinations, and another round of goodbyes before we set off to the airport.
Destination Phuket in Thailand, by way of Seoul.
Highpoints of the trip included some exceptionally friendly Asiana staff, an extra 10kg of luggage allowance (little bit late but handy for the return leg) and a Korean dinner that I got to build myself (well, I added the chilli paste and the sesame oil to it).
Low points included the journey taking about 36 hours end to end, and being accompanied by a streaming cold that I had picked up in the UK.
It’s tough to pull off that glam air travel look at the best of times, but I apologise to anyone in the vicinity (especially Andy) as I flopped through Icheon airport with an air of pleurisy.
3rd January 2013
At around 1am (Thailand is seven hours ahead) we landed, and by 3ish we finally made it to Fern House, our home for the next month. Body clocks be damned, it was time to settle in and get ready for training again.