The ups and Downtons of Christmas / by Hannah Foster

December has been a very busy month for us - two hemispheres, three continents and four countries (England, France, UAE and Australia). After some great trips catching up with friends and family, we decided a break that involved lots of sleeping in and eating, and not much else, was definitely in order. 

This year is Ed and my first Christmas as 'Christmas orphans' - spending the holidays away from family, in the UK. Given this, we wanted to really embrace the fact that we were going to be having a cold (sadly not white) Christmas in England for the first time. Everything in the UK definitely feels more Christmassy than in Australia. We woke up on Christmas morning, for example, to frost covering our windows - a sight I'd previously only really seen on the front of cheesy Christmas cards. Hot food and mulled wine taste better when it is bracingly cold outside, and things like log fires, Christmas carol lyrics and tacky Christmas jumpers make a hell of a lot more sense here than in Australia. 

On Christmas Eve, Ed and I took a train from London to Ipswich in Suffolk (North East of London) and then on to the little village of Kesgrave, where Kesgrave Hall is located. Surrounded by woods and an expansive lawn, the 23-room hotel used to be a school before being renovated and turned into a boutique hotel about 5 years ago. 

So far our stay here has been decadent and delightful. We have eaten so much food, including a full English breakfast with champagne on Christmas morning and a sit-down lunch in the hotel restaurant. Meals come in country-sized portions here and everything has been delicious. And the real plus of having Christmas lunch at the hotel restaurant? You don't have to wash up afterwards, but you can still just stumble upstairs to your room for a nap afterwards!

 A traditional roast turkey lunch course for Ed

A traditional roast turkey lunch course for Ed

 My dessert - mango cheesecake with passionfruit ice-cream and tropical fruit salsa

My dessert - mango cheesecake with passionfruit ice-cream and tropical fruit salsa

Speaking of naps, our four-course lunch on Christmas day meant we unpatriotically managed to sleep through the Queen's Speech. However, I was definitely awake for the last ever episode of Downton Abbey on Christmas night. I'll avoid any spoilers here since a lot of people might not have seen the finale yet. I'll just say I enjoyed it and it was a crowdpleaser, as is almost always the case for the Christmas specials. 

Anyway, I'll sign off now and wish everyone a happy holidays or a Merry Christmas. I hope that, wherever it was and however you celebrated, your day was full of love and laughter (Ed in a elf hat over lunch ensured mine was!).

xox Hannah