a little bit of everything and a whole lot of film

6 Feb 2015

Christmas in Warwick, beautiful souls, Cards against Humanity and New Year Wishes

Apologies for the utter lack of posts for the last two months. It has been C R A Z Y, I tell you. 

So I spent Christmas in Warwick, UK this past year and it was a much needed break from the grueling rat race that is working in Dubai. Everything just moves at breakneck speeds here so I needed a bit of time away and the Warwick is one of those places where I can just completely de-stress. It's a quaint, sleepy little town right smack in the middle of Warwickshire in the West Midlands. It was a spur of the moment kind of decision really, going to the UK for Christmas but I'm really, really happy that I did. I guess you could say it helped set the tone of how my new year is going to be, or how I hope it will be. 

So since I didn't really plan well ahead of my trip, most of the bed and breakfasts were either closed for the holidays or fully booked so I chose a hotel just off the town centre called Lord Leycester Hotel. This hotel, I must honestly say, has seen better days but it was clean, TripAdvisor reviews were fairly decent (their breakfast drew a good amount of raves eh!) and it offered the best bang for buck, heck I paid one night's stay worth in a 3 star hotel here in Dubai for my 6 day stay in Lord Leycester, how 'bout that? Side note to all claustrophobics like me, do not and I repeat, DO NOT take the tiny little minuscule metal box they call a lift ok? Take the stairs instead. You'll thank me later. The manager, Peter? Dave? (forgive me but I forgot his name) was an angel. There were bouts of loneliness  that I couldn't avoid and those bouts were of course, spent by the (mostly empty) hotel bar, chugging Peroni or Corona and he, I guess sensing my loneliness, kept me company as I drank and just talked to me about life. Winter days are quite short in the UK and by 4pm the skies are as dark as if it was 8pm so there was a general feeling of  sweet somnolence as the early twilight sets in and you feel as though you should be getting ready to snuggle under the bedcovers. That, coupled with a tiny bit of jet lag  had me waking up at 3am, hungry for rice. I am Asian, after all. But I had quite a few unforgettable meals in Warwick and in Leamington Spa and even one in Kenilworth's The Famous Virgins and Castle, a British Filipino pub (where I actually ordered another Crispy Pata with garlic rice to take home!).

My first stop every time I'm in the UK is always Superdrug or Boots and yes, I did quite a bit of damage, um, everywhere. My friends took me to Bicester Village in Oxfordshire and it is a designer outlet mecca. It spans approximately two blocks and is flocked by  a Tesco on one side and The Acorn public house on the other. There was shops by Celine, Marc Jacobs, All Saints, Ted Baker and Gucci to name a few. There were also quite a few cafes and restaurants for refueling after shopping - I had some lovely dim sum at PanChai!

But the shopping was not really my main "thing" during that time, hard as that may be to believe.  I wanted to spend some time with some of my best friends, who just so happens to live in Warwick so I was well taken cared of and I spent loads of lovely afternoons just shooting the breeze, eating, drinking, stalking Daniel Craig's Warwick home twice and (on Christmas night) meeting some very lovely souls, downing vodka jelly shots and playing Cards against Humanity which was hilarious!

I have a sweet story to tell about Christmas day. As I was having breakfast at the hotel dining room, there was a middle aged couple sitting right across from me and I inadvertently overheard them talking about fish and I panicked a little because aside from having my usual full English breakfast, I was also having some smoked kippers on the side and thought that the smell, which was actually quite similar to Filipino dried fish I kid you not, was wafting over to them. I apologised and they were laughing and said it was ok, and that they had just finished theirs and thought that they smelled! hehe So one thing led to another and we got to talking and they asked me how come I was alone on Christmas day and would I like to come with them to see their daughter sing with the choir at Leamington Spa's All Saints Parish. I dashed up to my room to get ready and for some strange reason, even when I didn't know them at all, I felt that it was something that I really needed to do and boy was I right. As I walked into the church with them, and Leamington Spa Parish is such a grand, imposing structure, all stained glass and Gothic arches - I smelled the incense and the flowers and I just started weeping. I completely broke down. It was like all the problems and pain and bitterness I was holding on to throughout the year just came crashing down  and I guess the Heavens thought that I needed a good cry and I did. You know, I tend to forget this often but I used to believe a lot in signs and symbols and if meeting that couple that day wasn't a sign from above then I don't know what is.

Anyhoo, enough heavy stuff. 

I of course, made the rounds of the pubs, The Lazy Cow and The Rose and Crown being my faves. Amazing steaks. If you haven't yet, read my review of my stay in The Lazy Cow here. In the mornings, since I would wake up so early, I would wait until it was light enough to venture out and explore and just ogled at houses (like the creeper that I am) and imagined all kinds of  novel stories and romances that went on behind those doors (I know I am strange). Most shops were closed for the holidays though and even my beloved weekend markets were also closed (but more I guess because of the rain and sleet rather than the holidays). Oh and yes, I had my first taste of snow! Woohoo! I know I must sound like a complete hick but snow makes me happy. Heck, even the cold makes me happy.

You know the signs and symbols I was talking about previously? I had never felt more at home, or that I belonged to a place so much as I had in Warwick, or the UK for that matter. I was always a vagabond, even back in the Philippines, I couldn't stay in one place for too long or I get antsy. But in Warwick, I felt like I had come home. Maybe, it's a sign that I should move there, who knows right? 

That is one of my wishes for the New Year. To live in a place where I belong. Where I could finally make a home.

I know this is a month and a few days too late but Happy New Year cupcakes! Here's to us! 


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