After almost seven weeks in the US, it was time for the third and final part of our four-month world tour, which started in New Zealand in September. With only five days until Christmas, Ric and I boarded separate flights to his homeland, England.
It was a serious homecoming for him, as this is his first visit home in three years, first Christmas home in two and the first holiday season celebrated with his entire family in something like seven years. Ric’s not the only traveller in the Hackey clan. His mom always jokes that they’re going to lock her away for child trafficking. Her three boys are always off to different places around the world.
I was a bit sad not to be there to see everyone’s face when Ric arrived, but my flight to Manchester Airport wasn’t far behind.
For me, this was my first time visiting Ric’s hometown of Bollington, which is about 30 minutes outside Manchester, and my first return to England after studying abroad in London five years ago. During those six months at Westminster University, I didn’t get to see very much of northern England, so we had a lot of exploring to do, but Christmas first.
Every Brit I met in Australia and New Zealand constantly talked about how amazing the holidays are in the UK.
They were right.
It’s not just a day or two-day event here, it’s a month of preparation and pretty much a week of celebration.
My expectations of Bollington after hearing Ric talk about it for the past two years, was that it was a mixture of The Holiday and Green Street Hooligans. Football fanatics in a quaint village. Walking into The Church House Inn with his family the night we arrived, I definitely had deja vu of Jude Law popping into a cozy pub in the country, friends smiling, fire blazing while Frou Frou’s “Let go” plays in the background. Going out with Ric’s friends for a fancy dress night only a few days later and listening to the football-like songs they made up for just about everything, even me, I got that match day feel from Green Street-without the violence.
All-in-all, I kind of knew I would love Bollington. For an American, it’s got buildings that date back further than my country. For a suburban girl, it’s nice to pop around the corner to the pub for a drink. And in general everyone has just been extremely friendly and kind.
On the gushy side, it’s amazing to see where Ric came from and get a better understanding of why he’s such a wonderful man.
After a few days of catching up, last minute Christmas shopping and getting into the spirit by visiting things like the Manchester Christmas Markets, it was already Christmas Eve.
I think our celebrations this year were mild compared to Ric’s in Bollington in the past. He always talked about a Christmas Eve pub crawl that started at about noon. Still recovering from the fancy dress pub crawl a few days before, we opted to spend this one having a few drinks at home and playing Trivial Pursuit with the family, which I must add, the girls team won. We made it out for a few hours to catch up with everyone in town, but we were fast asleep by midnight as Ric advised me, “Father Christmas might miss us if we don’t get to bed now.”.
Father Christmas came with massive stalkings for Ric, his two brothers and even myself. He’s pretty good to have found me in Australia, New Zealand and now England. After exchanging gifts, we visited The Church House Inn where everyone had already snapped their Christmas crackers and were wearing those famous paper crowns. We came home to put on our own. Sadly, I didn’t win any of the Christmas cracker wars this holiday. But I did have an amazing dinner with wonderful people and managed to be on the winning team of Trivial pursuit yet again.
Jumping forward to New Years Eve a week later, we celebrated again in Bollington. Ric and I both have the same mentality towards New Years, an overpriced holiday that usually let’s you down. So we never make grand plans, but this year we wanted to do something as Ric hadn’t celebrated with his friends and family in years.
One of his friends made reservations at an Indian restaurant in town called Viceroy. It was the perfect New Years night for me. We had a massive meal of curries, onion bajies and much more as well as several glasses of cider, sambuca and champagne. We danced for a few hours on a busy but roomy dance floor. Plus, we got to watch fireworks at midnight.
We partied well into 2013 and woke up with the usual first day of the year headache.
Plans for 2013? I have a few, but I’m not announcing any of them yet. It’s a year that’s a bit unpredictable for Ric and I but I do have a good feeling about this one. So I’ll just work on keeping my resolutions of drinking more water and being more organized, then see how everything else pans out.
Happy New Year to all of you! What are your resolutions for 2013 and where will this year take you?