Time For A Christmas Party!

As the countdown to Christmas continues we can't wait for school to finish this week and for the real Christmas celebrations to begin! We have family arriving at the weekend with a car packed full of Christmas goodies, presents, and of course mince pies! We're looking forward to going to the last of the Christmas markets before retreating into our home by the fire and getting ready for the big day. Christmas is the best excuse for getting together with family and friends that you haven't seen over the year. Here are some of the parties we'll be having over the Christmas period...

Musical Parties
Being a member of two choirs means 4 church concerts and a whole load of carols to learn! This year I've been learning arrangements of traditional Engligh carols such as 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' and as well as some new (to me!) French ones such as 'Petit Papa Noel' and 'Noel Blanc'. There are so many carolling services around but why not just get together with a few friends and sing your favourites? If anyone plays an instrument get them to learn a few well known carols. I've been learning some on my ukulele which I'm going to pull out on Christmas Eve!

Crafting Parties
This week I have some friends coming round for a Christmas crafting coffee morning (which may just run into lunch with mulled wine!) I'm pre-making decorations with air drying clay which we'll be decorating with paints, glitter, and sequins. We'll have a go at making lip balms with a Christmas inspired essential oil, and we'll be felting some mini stockings! Crafting parties are great for all ages and everyone can take a little something away to decorate their own homes with.

Food Parties
Everyone has their own favourites when it comes to Christmas food. Though we live in France we can't resist the British mince pies (which we have brought over by the box load!) gingerbread houses and mulled wine. However we also like to try new things. I'll be attempting Christmas Cranberry Mojitoes on Christmas Day and we've become big fans of oysters which are in season and everywhere at this time of year in France.

This post was written as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs 'Christmas In Different Lands' series which we love taking part in. You can catch up with all the posts here. We wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year and I look forward to getting my blogging mojo back in the new year, continuing to document our life here in South West France!


Spain - The Alphabet Adventures

Way back in January this year we made a list of family goals for 2015. On that list Reuben expressed a desire to travel to Spain and so over Toussaint (the October school holiday in France) we packed up the car and made the long journey down to the South of Spain. Our destination was Fuengirola, a little town just next to Malaga which for us is a 13 hour drive. As Andrew was the only one driving thanks to me tearing my Achilles tendon back in September (I know...ouch!) and with two young boys in the back, who constantly reminded us that 'it's taking a long time', we made two stop overs on the way there and back in Barcelona and Alicante.

During our two week stay we got out and about as much as we could. We took a trip up the cable cars in Benalmadena (so high!) and watched a birds of prey exhibition at the top. The animals in Bioparc were a highlight of the trip as we saw tigers, alligators, meercats, monkeys and pygmy hippos. We walked under fruitbats and got up close to lemurs and exotic birds. We had a disappointing trip to Sea Life as due to a cleverly placed sign we ended up at a cheaper version of the place we were aiming for. We did get to see a dolphin and sea lion show but other than that there were more animals from land than sea. The day before we left we ventured into Malaga. I forgot how popular big towns were with tourists (too much time in the countryside!) so we missed out on a visit to the Picasso museum as the queue was too long for the boys. But we did find the Interactive Music Museum which was well worth the trip. We all had fun trying out and listening to different instruments as well as seeing the large collection that they have on display.

The weather was kind to us and we managed trips to the beach as often as we could. The boys love sand and enjoyed splashing in the (cold!) sea, collecting shells and building sandcastles. We ate most of our meals where we were staying as it was far cheaper for us than eating out everyday, but we wanted to take the boys out to experience some traditional Spanish cuisine. Jacob is the more adventurous one when it comes to food and he was happy eating anything from the squid in his paella to the black pudding we had with tapas. Being by the sea it was obviously all about the fish and it was great to see little boats next to restaurants with BBQ's inside to cook the catch of the day.

When we lived in London, France used to always be our family holiday. Now that we live in France it's so great to be within driving distance of so many other countries. We'll definitely be back to Spain one day as we have Barcelona in mind for a city break.

We're looking forward to travelling around France more next year with hopefully another trip to a country close to France! What travel plans do you have for 2016?
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