Monday, 1 February 2016

My first Northern Hemisphere Christmas


The full-on mantlepiece swag, featuring appropriate northern hemisphere flora.

As a boy growing up in, I didn't see any contradiction between all the northern hemisphere wintry Christmas images we were exposed to - the snow, reindeer, sleighs, flaming puddings, holly and mistletoe - and the reality of a high summer Australian Christmas.

Where I grew up in Adelaide in southern Australia, our Christmas was more made up of searing heat, sun block and swimming costumes. But still we would decorate with plastic holly and bright red fake berries, faux pine trees, have roast stuffed turkey, ham and flaming plumb pudding and sing Christmas carols about 'in the bleak midwinter' and the 'holly and the ivy'.

I don't remember registering this as strange or contradictory, until I was singing in a church choir. We were presented with some 'Australian' Christmas carols - which seemed very modern, and a bit anti-tradition. Suddenly we were singing about:

'The north wind is tossing the leaves.
The red dust is over the town;
The sparrows are under the eaves,
And the grass in the paddock is brown'

. . . etc which seemed so much more reflective of our reality, compared to:

'When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even'

Only then did it dawn on me that there might be a bit of a disconnect between my lived experience in Australia, and a traditional northern hemisphere Christmas.

Well it has taken a long time, but now quite a few decades later, in Christmas 2015, I experienced my first cold, northern hemisphere Christmas thanks to two of our friends in London.

My British friends were determined to give us the quintessential Victorian family Christmas experience - and so they did, including carol singing at a private club and a side trip to the arctic circle to see the Northern Lights. We also added a little diversion in Vietnam to warm us up before we returned to our Australian Summer.

So - over the next few weeks, now that I have fully digested the experience, you can expect trip reports that will include:
  • Skyteam Lounge, Kingsford Smith Airport - Sydney, Australia
  • Vietnam Airlines 777 - Business Class
  • Vietnam Airlines 787 - Business Class
  • Intercontinental Asiana - Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Scandanavian Airlines - Economy
  • Priority Pass Lounge -  Gatwick, United Kingdom
  • Chasing Lights - Northern Lights Tour
  • Clarion, The Edge Hotel -  Trømsø, Norway
  • Skyteam Lounge - Heathrow, United Kingdom
. . . plus maybe a couple of extras - including packing tips for both the arctic circle and the tropics.

The cold weather case, including thermals, fleeces, mittens, and other warm layers.
 Dark colour palette.  Aesop pouches make great shoe bags.
Case packed came in around 18kg.


More stories from this trip

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