Christmas wreath on the Manor, Bourton on the Water

Home for the Holidays: Back in the UK

I was lucky enough to fly back home for the holidays. I’ve always spent Christmas in Cheltenham, so it would feel a little weird for me to spend it anywhere else. Saying that, I definitely wouldn’t rule out a warm Christmas Day spent sunbathing on Bondi Beach or somewhere similar should the opportunity arise! Subsequently, I thought I’d share some of the festivities I got up to back in the motherland over Christmas.

Walking around London

Firstly, my trip back to the UK first kicked off with a few days in London. This was pretty strictly business as I was working out of my company’s London office. It was a great experience and certainly a lot more chaotic than life back in Vancouver. In between regular stops at Pret A Manger (oh, how I’ve missed you), I wanted to make sure I made the most of the city.

St Pauls Cathedral at Christmas, London
Christmas at St. Paul’s Cathedral

For that reason, I tried to walk around as much as I possibly could and take in the sights and appreciate the capital once again. When you live in Vancouver, you’re not used to seeing historic and incredibly iconic buildings. It definitely made a nice change of scenery!

St Pauls Cathedral at night, London
St. Paul’s Cathedral
London skyline at night, including the Shard
London views from Millenium Bridge

The city looked beautiful at night! It always does, especially in December with Christmas lights.

London skyline over the Thames
Sunset over the Thames
London by night
Views to the Gherkin and beyond

I was lucky enough to meet up with an old housemate, so we went to Gaucho for cocktails and chats on all our recent adventures.

Cocktails at Gaucho, London
Cocktails at Gaucho

Home for the holidays

The next day, I had a two hour journey back to Cheltenham, my hometown. I was really looking forward to catching up with family and friends.

One of the first things we planned was bottomless brunch, something you can’t seem to get back in British Columbia due to various liquor laws. If you’re unfamiliar with it, you essentially pay a fixed amount at a restaurant for your choice of brunch and unlimited alcohol. Yep, you heard me!

Full English breakfast
A Full English from the Fire Station

Needless to say, we worked our way through several bottles of prosecco and bellinis. I also paired it with a Full English. Because, well, when in Rome.

Home for the holidays: Bottomless brunch at Fire Station, Cheltenham
Bottomless brunching

Home for the holidays: eating and drinking my way around Cheltenham

As you can probably tell, I bloody love food. So this was one of the things I was most excited about being home for. If you were to ask me my top 5 food items I miss from home, I’d say:

  1. A proper roast dinner (yes I know you get Thanksgiving dinners and so on in Canada, but not with all the proper trimmings and where are those Yorkshire puddings?)
  2. Authentic Indian food. I cannot stress enough how I miss any curry other than butter chicken, and the holy grail of all side dishes: poppadoms.
  3. Malteser truffles. Have you tried these yet?!
  4. Crumpets. I love them.
  5. Fish and chips.

I mean, this is just a shortlist. I definitely have a LOT more to add on there.

Anyway – naturally I had to go for a carvery, and my god was it good!?

Home for the holidays: Toby Carvery roast dinner
A proper carvery

I tried to cram in a few day trips into my time back home. Cheltenham is surrounded by such pretty areas including the Cotswolds, so if you haven’t yet visited, I’d recommend it. I explored some of the countryside, took a day trip to Oxford, and of course went for more drinks. And ate more roast dinners.

So, are you noticing a theme here?

Cocktails with friends in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Drinks in Cheltenham
Home for the holidays: cocktails at the Ivy, Cheltenham
The Ivy, Cheltenham
In front of the Christmas tree at the Ivy, Cheltenham
Christmas at the Ivy
Christmas dinner at the Daffodil, Cheltenham
Christmas dinner at the Daffodil

Oh look, another roast!

Home for the holidays: roast beef dinner at the Langton
Roast beef at the Langton
Girls having prosecco
What’s Christmas without prosecco?

Home for the holidays: exploring Gloucestershire

During my stay, I went for a fair few walks through the town. After all, I had to burn off all that extra British food I’d been eating, right? I’ve shared some snaps so you can see what Cheltenham is like if you’re not already aware.

Home for the holidays: sunset over Cheltenham in December
Sunset views over Cheltenham
Pink Vintage, Cheltenham
Pink Vintage, Cheltenham
Shops in Montpellier, Cheltenham
It doesn’t get much more Montpellier than a chandelier shop!
St Mary's Church, Prestbury
St. Mary’s Church, Cheltenham
Home for the holidays: The Mill, Prestbury, Cheltenham
The Plough, Cheltenham

A Day at Bourton on the Water

I love living so close to beautiful Bourton on the Water back home. Despite being a little touristy on occasion, it’s very ‘quaint’ as Americans love to call it, and just downright super cute.

Views over the Cotswolds
Cotswold countryside
A cute house in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire
A shop in the Coswolds

How gorgeous are these historic houses with their Christmas wreaths? Sadly, I don’t live in any of them!

A Christmas wreath on a door in the Cotswolds
A stream in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire
Christmas tree in Bourton-on-the-Water
Christmas tree at Bourton on the Water

It’s actually a great place to visit over the holiday period as it feels very festive. There’s a famous Christmas tree in the water, while in the summer locals play football in there.

We stopped off at a charming little cafe for a coffee, and watched with amusement some tourists attempting to eat a scone.

Cute houses in the Cotswolds
Bourton on the Water, Cotswolds
Home for the holidays: adorable patio in the Cotswolds
Home for the holidays: a trip to Bourton on the Water
Home for the holidays: The Manor, Bourton on the Water
Home for the holidays: Christmas wreath on the Manor, Bourton on the Water

Cheering on Gloucester Rugby

One of the last activities I did while being home for the holidays was head to Gloucester Rugby. It’s become a bit of a tradition recently, and is always good fun. A day at the rugby essential means watching a bit of rugby, but focusing on keeping your glass full of cider. We also sipped sloe gin throughout, before heading to the local Indian for an a-mazing meal.

Home for the holidays: girls at Gloucester Rugby
Home for the holidays: group at Gloucester Rugby

The perfect way to end my trip home for the holidays! I hope you all had a great festive period too.

Were you home for the holidays? If so, where is home for you? Let me know what you got up to over the festivities!

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  1. Lovely hometown! I visited there ten years ago with my friend and I think the Sticky Pudding Club celebration at the Three Ways House Hotel is not far from you!

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