A festive return to Blighty

SO how was your Christmas? Now returned from Suffolk and ensconced back in French France and my daily routine, I have to admit to feeling a little homesick for the county of my birth.

James Marston

SO how was your Christmas?

Now returned from Suffolk and ensconced back in French France and my daily routine, I have to admit to feeling a little homesick for the county of my birth.

That is not to say that I did not make the best of my visit to England, in fact, dear readers, I experienced what can only be described as a social whirl.

It started with my friend Beverley, who had a drinks do with hot nibbles (bought), rolled into organ playing in the ancient church of St James in Icklingham in the west of the county, included a trip to Ipswich to meet my plain speaking photographer friend Lucy, a dinner with my journalist chums, and rounded off with a New Year's Eve soiree in an Ingham farmhouse complete with chinese lanterns that, on the stroke of midnight, lifted high into the wide East Anglian sky posing somewhat of a threat to anyone with a thatch but which looked nice anyway.

Furthermore, I have visited Norfolk, Cambridge, Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Felixstowe and deepest Essex. I have eaten cheese and pickle sandwiches and even seen Suffolk in the snow - always a welcome sight.

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However, ten days of lunches, dinner parties, drinks and nibbles have done little for my winter weight control and I have decided to go on small talk cold turkey after exhausting my small store of anecdotes.

Luckily, I have also managed to avoid "the sales" though I did manage to take back a few items of knitwear. I have also managed, for the first time in several years, a quiche-free Christmas.

All in all it has been a most entertaining festive period worthy of a wanna-be celebrity who likes to talk about himself.

It goes without saying, however, that games, part of Christmas for many a family raised their ugly but thankfully only annual head.

Charades, at the insistence of my sister Claire, who also brought pin the tail on the donkey in case we got bored, were obligatory and for once quite an amusing way of missing Dr Who.

But don't you find that charades can often turn a little lewd? Particularly when it come to "sounds like"?

To be honest the actions my sister used for Mock The Week were rather too memorable and we had to draw the line when someone pulled out Scrapheap Challenge.

But when my father suggested that Pure - of Pure Shores - had two syllables we were stuck for nearly twenty minutes until we realised that the confusion could be laid at the door of his particular brand of the Suffolk accent.

A friend who keeps cats in Cambridge with her boyfriend told me this year she has cracked Christmas and didn't play a single game.

She said, as we sipped our New Year's morning coffee/hangover cure: "Thank god that's over. We told my parents that we were christmassing with his parents, we told his parents we were with mine. We spent it on our own and we didn't have to play a single game."

So, as we move into 2010, what are your resolutions? I have given up setting myself targets I never keep preferring to move the goal posts as I go along.

Obviously I am going to work harder on the language here in France and I have even bought myself a little book of verb tables to assist me in this task. By this time next year, dear readers.

David Cameron has suggested that Britain needs a change of direction and new leadership in 2010. I wonder who he has got in mind?

Hasn't Doctor Who got popular?

Apparently 10.4 million people watched the final episode where one actor became someone else. Isn't that amazing?

I was, to be frank, fairly disillusioned with Christmas TV as soon as I realised that unless you like soap operas which seem to be exclusively made up of other people's misery and arguments there isn't much to watch.

No wonder Dr Who is doing well, at least it's fun and entertaining. Not that I saw it, I had to play games.

Here in my Toulousain apartment with street views (immediate) and ceilings (high) I have unpacked my annual Christmas knitwear, socks and chocolate money as well as the yoyo - given to me, I have discovered, solely because it is a gift I could easily transport regardless of whether or not I wanted one - and things still look a little festive.

But I am rather looking forward to the warmer days of spring which aren't too far away now.

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