Sunday, January 17, 2016

An English Christmas - Guest post by Bel

The famous London eye at night
Loved seeing the red London double-decker buses

We went to London over Christmas last year. It was our maiden trip with 2 kids-in-tow and it was so lovely! We stayed over at my friend's Bel's place and she came up with the brilliant idea of guest posting in each other's blogs. 

So, here goes! The first guest post on my blog.... Warning: long post ahead.

Hello!  I've known Priscilla for more than 10 years now.  I remember how we met in University - we were in the same discipleship group when we both joined Campus Crusade for Christ, and later on it was the 4-month student exchange trip to Canada that cemented our friendship.  We were there with 3 other girls from NTU and we all witnessed how Pris and Stephan ("the other exchange student from Germany") got together.  

Fast forward a few years we graduated, they got married and soon they moved to Germany. Little did I know that I was also headed this way to Europe and Pris has been so welcoming and kind, inviting me to join her and her German family every Christmas since I moved to London.  

Pris: 13 years after Canada, just before flying to London

Not only that she put me in touch with her sis-in-law Sabrina who was also working in London at that time. We hit it off and became good friends.  I've never felt more comfortable (adopted even!) in the company of another family such as the Tews and I really do owe them a lot, for their kindness and hospitality.  When Pris suggested visiting us in London this Christmas, I was a little worried that they were breaking the Tews family tradition! 

It's been more than a year since I saw everyone and oh my how grown up are the two boys! Sammy is adorable as usual and I loved being able to hold a proper conversation with him. He no longer calls me "Linda" but "Belinda" instead, hurray to that.  Oh and little Gabriel (Gabe)!  He is so chilled out and is learning quite a few English words ("look, moon!"  "blue! red! yellow!")  I found something in common between us - we both love cleanliness haha *high five Gabe*.  The only unexplained thing was that he kept calling me "Tina".   

The Tews spent one week with us in total over this Christmas and my hubby K and I had a little taste of how life is like with two boys.  I always wondered how Pris and Stephan do it. And guess what - I STILL WONDER! :)

Beautiful English fireplace

K and I were working on the days leading up to Christmas and New Year's but we tried to spend as much time as we could with our guests.  The boys loved the stairs and kept sliding down on their bellies screaming and laughing as they went along.  There was never a dull moment from the time they are awake.

For our big dinner on Christmas eve, I decided on the traditional English way, i.e. Turkey.  

Pris: Our Christmas eve spread

Pris: Obligatory family photo before tucking in

Our menu for the night:

For starters, we had salmon blinis and K's signature salad.

Our mains were Turkey breast with pork, onion and sage stuffing topped with a bacon lattice, with roasted honey parsnips.

Dessert was supposed to be Vienetta ice cream (a Tews tradition) but guess what?  We were so full at the end of it that we had no space for any desserts.  Plus Sammy was too excited to open the presents!
Presents time!

Pris: Sam got English flashcards from Aunty Bel
Pris: Eating Mummy's Tim Tams that Bel got from Singapore

Pris: BINGO! 6 smiling faces at the camera! We hit the jackpot!

Pris: Crazy shot!

As part of an English tradition (they are visiting England after all), I bought some Christmas crackers to go along. We popped them open before dinner which explains the gold crown for each of us.  That was a good dinner I must say and of course, presents galore after that which Samy was the happiest amongst all of us.  He wanted to open every single present.

One of the reasons Pris wanted to visit London was that she's missing all the Asian food big time.  Before they arrived, we whatsapp'ed each other frequently, compiling a list of the different food places they could visit, admittedly mostly surround Chinatown in Leicester Square.  
They tried a few places on consecutive days that I told her "Pris you guys are visiting Chinatown more than what we visit in 3 months!" lol  Well I'm glad she's had her Asian food fix.  In fact on the night they arrived, I suggested bringing them to eat one of the best Peking ducks here in London.  K and I love the ambience and the quality of food at Grand Imperial in Victoria.  And then finding out Stephan doesn't like ducks.  oops!

Pris: Having the famous Beijing duck pancakes at Grand Imperial
Pris: Having Singaporean food at Rasa Sayang (Chinatown)

Pris: Having authentic bubble tea and Gabe was a huge fan of the "bubbles!" My little Asian boy!

On days where we couldn't bring them around, Pris and Stephan visited some museums which are kids friendly. Having no kids of our own, I had to admit I did struggle on where to suggest they could go with the boys!   

At the Natural History Museum

On Boxing Day, we went for a walk in Greenwich Park where there was a big playground so the boys were well entertained and I witnessed Gabe's love for swings.  That sad look when he had to give up his seat for another kid in waiting - lol.  

On another day K packed all of us in our car and drove to Knole Park in Kent where we saw free roaming deer.  It was nice, but because it was raining so much on the preceding days, it was all a bit too muddy for our liking.  It soon got too cold after 2 hours and we decided to head indoors to Bluewater, this sprawling shopping centre in Kent which K and I visit ever so often as it is not too far from our place.  

Pris: Roaming deer in the background
Pris: A snoozing Gabriel
The week did pass by so quickly for us.  It was nice to spend time with this lovely family of four (soon five!), catching up with both Pris and Stephan and reminiscing on our good old exchange days.  We agreed it would be ideal if we could all visit Canada again together - that would be so meaningful.

Pris - you super mom - I pray that God will continue to bless your little family and give you and Stephan the grace and godly wisdom on being the best parents you can be.  Thank you for being such a blessing to me, embracing me into the Tews family and I thank God for our friendship.  Love ya lots xxx 

Pris: We loved Christmas with B&K so much, we didn't want to leave!

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