We don’t have Thanksgiving in the UK, but if we did, I reckon it might feel a bit like this week. It’s been an opportunity to look back on the year, spend time with good friends and say thank you.
This year has been quite reflective for a number of reasons. One reason is that good friends of ours have spent more time in Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital (GOSH) than anyone would ever want to. I’ve linked to their blog before, here, which explains much more about what they’re going through, but both of their young sons have been receiving chemotherapy and treatment for separate cancers this year. Despite all of this, both parents and kids are incredible, keeping on keeping on. This week I popped the Christmas cake pictured at the top of this post into the Elephant Ward at GOSH to say thanks to all the staff who work there and have been looking after our friends’ boys. This was followed by the GOSH Christmas Party, where I got to ice cakes and biscuits with young patients past and present and of course meet Stormtroopers! There aren’t many better ways to spend a morning than with such incredible children and their families. In my wife Sarah’s second pregnancy we experienced the support and professionalism of GOSH staff, thankfully only briefly, so if I can make a few cakes to say thanks to staff there, it really feels like the least I can do.
Our youngest daughter turned two this week so we’ve had a whole week of celebrations now that she’s learnt to sing ‘Happy Birthday’, which she’s been singing to everyone she meets including our dog and cat. I really can’t understand where the past two years have gone – it feels like she only arrived yesterday – but she’s at that great age where every day she’s finding more and more words and ways to communicate with us. Our youngest is two days older than our friends’ son (mentioned above) so we popped a birthday cake round for him too, as thankfully he got to celebrate his second birthday away from hospital.
Being self-employed I don’t have a work Christmas lunch, but as Sarah’s taken some time off work before she starts her new job in January, we’ve had more opportunities to hang out together in the past few weeks while the kids are at school and nursery. We had our own ‘work Christmas lunch’ at my favourite place to eat in 2017 – the Bang Bang Oriental food hall in North West London. It’s really worth making the trip there to sample one of the 27 different Asian cuisines available. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been there since it opened five months ago, but I do know it’s not enough as I’d have lunch there every day if I could just to get to try everything once. I went for the cheese smoothie above – not as grim as it sounds as it was actually cream cheese and coffee flavoured – but how could I resist the chance to order a cheese smoothie?!
I’ve been mates with the same group of fellas for over 20 years – some for well over 30 years – and we hit our old stomping ground in Camden this weekend for a Christmas bash. I can be a pretty crap friend; I never answer my phone, don’t reply to texts, and have no idea whether I’m free from one weekend to the next. I’ve tried to be a bit better this year and I’m really lucky that the guys I’ve been friends with all these years overlook my uselessness so we had a great night out. They’re the same bunch of mates we went away with in the summer and there’s nothing like the fun you can have with the people you’ve grown up with. If it wasn’t that we’ve had about 100 kids between us, I’m sure we’d get to do it more often!
This weekend has been all about friends and family, long pub lunches, open fires, giggling children and Christmas spirit. The kids have had a great time with both of the couples they’ve been bridesmaids for in the past two years, so they always get spoilt with attention and cuddles! This week we’re taking them on the trip of a lifetime, which we’ve been planning for a little while. We’re off to Lapland in Finland for a few days to meet Santa! We’re all so excited about going and are counting the hours. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for so many years and this year we’ve thought we’d take the plunge before the kids get much older. We’ll be back by next weekend so I’ll post some pictures on Instagram but will probably skip writing a blog post on Christmas Eve as there’s so much telly to watch instead. My Christmas baking is all sorted now until Boxing Day so I think it could be my first week off baking this year. However you’re spending the festive season, have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Baking!