Mention Christmas to anyone from England and you’ll probably be bombarded with tales of freezing cold weather, city centre Christmas markets, mulled wine and a big turkey dinner. It’s what we’re used to; it’s what Christmas is about, isn’t it?
It can be hard to imagine Christmas being any different to this when it’s what you’ve known all your life. That’s why Christmas 2014 – in Sydney – felt ever so slightly weird for me.
Some things never change…
Obviously, no matter where we are in the world, some things will always remain the same.
Naturally we had our traditional Christmas Eve pub crawl which started around midday – why change the habit of a lifetime? Our attire was traditionally festive, as James and Tom’s mum Mel sent us all a personal outfit to wear for the festive period. As you can see, we all embraced our roles as a pair of Santas, Rudolph and an elf.
As was also the case the week before, we ended the night at our favourite haunt – Scruffy Murphy’s. There’s just something about Irish bars that I can’t resist. It’s definitely not the accent, honest…
Wednesday nights at Scruffy Murphy’s just happen to be karaoke night and, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I just can’t resist getting up and blasting out a bit of Mambo Number 5. The previous week, I ended up winning $100 in the karaoke competition and on Christmas eve…well, I don’t need to tell you what happened do I? Merry Christmas indeed.
Now, before anyone pipes up, I’ll admit something here. The winner of this prize isn’t so much judged on their singing voice, ability or crowd pleasing antics (although I’d argue I’d probably win based on those anyway…) but is merely decided by having their name pulled out of a hat at the end of the night. Still, two weeks in a row is a bit of a coincidence isn’t it? Besides, it’s technically still a karaoke ‘competition’.
It goes without saying that the hangover on Christmas morning was very reminiscent of previous years too.
It’s (not) beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…
As far as similarities go, I’d say that was about it.
Waking up on Christmas morning in a shared hostel dorm was a bit of a bizarre experience. Instead of running downstairs at 8am and ripping open a ton of presents (25 years old – and what?) I found myself crawling down from my bunk bed awaiting my secret santa gift, which turned out to be an inflatable Australia hand and an air horn. I’m sure the hostel staff would have confiscated the air horn had they known about it!
Next up was the plan for the day. Instead of popping out to see relatives, heading to the pub or pestering whoever happened to be making Christmas dinner, we hopped on the train to Bondi and spent the day on the beach – an absolute godsend for me and James in particular, as we were both suffering big time with our hangovers.
So there we are, soaking up the 30+ degree heat on a sunny beach on December 25th. Well and truly the most different Christmas of my life. There was just the small matter of Christmas dinner to figure out. The initial plan was for me to cook us a Christmas dinner, but the useless hostel kitchen facilities combined with my crippling hangover meant this wasn’t quite as good an idea as it initially sounded.
The first move was to get a ‘tiger’ from Harry’s Cafe De Wheels. For anyone not in the know, this could possibly be the greatest thing you’ll hear all day. This particular meal is your choice of pie (meat pie – obviously) topped with mash, mushy peas and gravy. I’ve had about six since arriving in Sydney and I’m already craving my next one.
After our stint on the beach, the heavens well and truly opened and it started lashing down with rain, thunder, lightning and just about everything else imaginable. Because of this (and the fact that there was bugger all else open) we decided to just head down to Chinatown and grab whatever we could. It wasn’t quite a turkey dinner, and we got charged $60 for four portions of fried rice, but it was a different experience I suppose. A wet and pricey experience, but a different one nonetheless.
In the end, we decided after a few beers that we’d call it a night. It had been a very interesting experience, and one which I absolutely loved. Having said that, as an English man the very idea of a warm Christmas day just didn’t feel right to me and for some bizarre reason, I actually found myself missing the cold weather for the first time in 10 months.
Something tells me I won’t be so keen on it when I’m home in March!