I have experienced coming home in many forms, but travelling home on the train for Christmas is always special. The train weaves through undulating fields and dark, dripping branches; coldly clattering on the narrow track, and just before it heaves and strains into my little village station it passes over a viaduct and is momentarily suspended, hanging in the smoky gathering darkness of a December twilight, the tiny lights of bedroom windows and living room fireplaces far below mapping the life lines of a place that I know by heart. And in my head an echoing voice sings ‘lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones’, and I smile at the simple settling warmth that only coming home can set alight.
We are all together for Christmas, huddling round the tree to unwrap presents and drink prosecco and orange juice. The snow comes on Boxing Day, thick flurries falling past the window reflected blue in the glow of the fairy lights hung around the house. The cold evenings paint pale orange stripes and throw pink icing sugar clouds across a pearly, duck egg blue sky; a milky crescent moon suspended above bare black branches and snow covered fields. We tramp through the woods in mud crusted wellies and eat turkey sandwiches at the top of a hill overlooking the valley, hurrying home as the sky darkens to dry feet clad in thick wooly socks in front of the fire.
After London’s voiceless roar, it’s faceless grey bustle of hard pushing bodies; I am home amongst the snowy fields and the bare forest, icy branches sparkling with sunlight; the burning cold air in my lungs and the star studded silence of night time. I am reminded of lessons much more easily remembered on the other side of the world; relieved of worries that I should know better than to indulge. And so I have time to breathe, and to reset, and to refocus on the things that are really important – family, and food, and living an adventure every single day, and looking at the world through the humble eyes of a discoverer.
Every year, the day after Boxing Day (when we annihilate a huge ham), my Mum makes the absolute ultimate leftover turkey pie. It is so good, the leftovers transformed by buttery, sage and chestnut studded pastry and silky sweet leeks, drowned in fragrant homemade gravy. The recipe is courtesy of Jamie Oliver, and you can find it here.
I was lucky enough to be given loads of books for Christmas, too many to pick just one. Cocktail recipes based on literary classics, life wisdom, tales of brain surgery, writing inspiration and Vietnamese food give a diverse cross section.
By far the best money I spent in December was on the hire of the camper van that took us on a little post Christmas road trip around Scotland! More on this coming up in a future post, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @thewayfarerdiaries for lots of Scotland photographs and real time updates.
So that’s my December diary – I’d love to hear from you about what you got up to over the Christmas period! And going into 2015, I’d love to know about your travel resolutions and plans for the coming year. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and a very Happy New Year 🙂