Friday, December 24, 2010


It's Christmas Eve here in Cozumel and I'm just waking up from an afternoon nap following a week of intensive working (diving). Ever feel so tired that you almost feel drunk? Well that is how I am feeling today!
Anyway I tried to call my parents and borther to wish them a Happy Christmas and kept getting cut off (skype must be overbirdened at this time of year). So I've been lying here thinking of all of the wonderful Christmases I had a child and how lucky I was in comparison to lots of the children here. Its not really about privaledge or money but about the love that was in our house particularly at Christmas time.
Buying our tree - Christmas always started with the family outing to buy our Christmas tree. We'd all troup to Chopwell Woods to choose our family Christmas tree about 1 1/2 weeks before Christmas. I remember times where there was light dusting of snow. I'd be in my duffle coat and wellies. Trees would be piled high in groups of height and dad would pull trees out, one by one, for our approval. Mam would usually want a Scotch Pine tree (that none of the rest of the family would like) and then we'd settle on a classic pine tree, full of thick branches and smelling heavenly! We'd then take it to the man who'd push it through a big machine, which would put the trees in big net bags for transportation, and pay. As a little girl I remember hugging the Christmas tree in its net sock:) We'd then strap the tree to the top of the car with washing line, strung through open car windows, generally with a lot of family bickering and my dad sustaining some mild injury, which would usually bring us back to a state of hilarity!
Back at home we'd have to wait for my parents to drink coffee and maybe eat some lunch and then dad would cut the end off the trunk of the tree, to make sure it could drink the water we'd feed it and it would be set in a bucket and lodged in place with bricks (in later years things would get easier, with the advent of specially designed Christmas tree holders). Andy Williams would be playing on the record player while the decorations were broken open. In those days the decorations were stored in an old dusty suitace in the attic (actually I believe that that suitacse is still in the attic).
First the lights: we had little pink gold, green and blue carriage lights which were magical and then borbles, and ornaments. The ornaments came out every year and we knew them well. The pipecleaner Santa Clause, the little toy train, my favorites: the little drummer boy and his girlfriend, and of course the golden angel for the tree top. Many of the ornaments had come from my grandma's house, I especially remember a white raindeer and two little elves that sat on the branches. I can still smell the mixture of dusty old decorations mixed with fresh pine. Then when we'd finished it would be growing dark and we'd all settle down and watch television with the tree glowing in the corner. I could sit for hours, as a child, gazing into its sparkling branches. Imagining the little ornaments springing to life. We'd all choose our favorite light, or favorite bauble. Mam would always choose one of those clear baubles that look like big soap bubbles, because of the way some light close by to it would reflect in it and make it look a pretty color.
After much anticipation and opening of advent calendar windows, Christmas eve would finally arrive. I would be so excited - Santa Claus! Imagine, as if by magic, someone would come and fill our living room with presents. We'd usually be sent to bed early after leaving a sherry and a mince pie out for Santa Clause, and of course stockings for Santa to fill with presents (my dad's socks). Dad would read me a book I had on the nativity storey and also an illustrated version of 'Twas the night before Christmas". We were told to go to sleep or Santa might not come. I'd sometimes stand up in bed, stick my head under the curtains and press my forehead against the glass, looking for Santa's sleigh as it sped through the night. It was the most intolerable night of the year in terms of trying to get to sleep. I felt like I didn't sleep a wink, but in all likelihood that is probably not true. I'd talk to my old bear, big ted, about all of the things I hoped Santa and his elves would bring for me, into the early hours of the morning.
We had to stay in our rooms until a time set by my parents (probably 7am) when we'd be able to wake them up. We would all stand at the top of the stairs while my dad would go downstairs to check the living room and see if 'he' had been. He always had and we'd all rush down stairs and into the room where our little Christmas tree was glowing, surrounded by presents. I remember stockings filled with nuts, tangerines, foil covered chocolate coins and little trinkets. I'd always get a doll, my brother the latest Star War's toys. We'd go to church and I remember often hearing a baby crying and believeing that baby Jesus was actually hidden somewhere behind the little door that the priests would comeinand out of. We'd see Carol and Pete, my mam's friends with their kids Claire and Micheal who were mine and my brother's best friends; Then we'd go to Grandma Charlton's for more presents and then Grandma Quinn's - where all of my aunts, uncles and cousins would gather, drink sherry, be happy and exchange more gifts. Christmas lunch would be turkey with all of the trimmings (back then I ate meat). Grandma Charlton and my aunt Judith and uncle Robin would be there. After lunch we'd watch the 'Wizard of Oz', which was always televised on Christmas Day at around 3pm (in the days before video). That movie was a little like Christmas, all is grey and dull until the day Dorothy opens the door into Oz. I loved that movie. Then by evening time we'd all be wiped out and fall asleep on the sofa, well fed, happy and tired!
I hope that if I am lucky enough to have children I can make their Christmases as magical as mine were as a child.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Long Awaited House Update...

At last I have found the time to get my photographs saved to my computer and uploaded to blogger. I had planned to do this at work (here in the dive shop there really is NOTHING to do in low season - I've spoken to only 4 potential clients today in a period of 5 hours), but the internet service was so slow that I could not upload the pictures. I decided to go ahead and write this and add the pictures at home while I cook dinner. Phew – this is why it often takes me so long to write a blog post!

So my last update predated my trip to Greece and London in October/ November. Before I left, preparations were being made to put the roof on the house (the roof will ultimately be the floor to the second floor of the house). Here in Mexico houses are made of bricks and the roof of flat concrete. Once the walls are in place a platform is constructed in wood to carry the weight of the concrete, which will be poured to make the roof:

After the wood is laid, tubeing is placed over the top of it to house electricity cables and the drainage pipes were also laid for our 2nd floor bathroom.

Our roof was poured the day before I left and I did not manage to be there to take pictures. There are a few ways to make these cement roofs and we arranged for a cement truck to come and pour pre-mixed cement. This only takes a few hours and the pre-mixed cement has additives which make it harden faster and give it more resistance to moisture. After the concrete has been poured it is left to harden over a period of 5-7 days and then the wood is taken away. This is the house as it looked when I arrived back from my trip:

Obviously the walls all need to be finished with a smooth layer of cement, and ultimately painted, but you can see how things are shaping up. It was really cool for me to arrive back on the Island and see the house with its roof. For the first time, I could walk into each of the rooms and get a good feeling for the space of each room and how it will look when we move in. I was very happy with the way all of the rooms looked - each one felt just right. Here is a picture of what will ultimately be our living room. You will see that the room has been partly finished (we'd say plastered in England). The groove running round the walls, about 1/2 way up the, is being left for a ceramic chair rail (maybe dedo rail in England). They would usually be made of wood in England or America, but because of the humidity here, we have chosen ceramic.
Before I left we'd planted a coconut tree in our back garden/ yard (we've actually already planted another of these in the opposite corner of the yard now). Here I am, pulling weeds out of the dirt around the tree:
Here is a picture of the back of the house taken from the yard. Again, all still needs to be finished and windows and doors added (the white metal gate is temporary - to secure Julio's work room until we have wooden doors made). The picture looks into the kitchen with the terrace in the foreground. I am really looking forward to our spending a lot of time out on the terrace - most of the year we'll probably eat out there:
Here is another picture from the side of the terrace and yard, with our little coconut tree in the corner. We planted this tree a little over a year ago and it is almost as tall as me, although we have actually planted it below ground level so it lost a few feet!
The last picture is of our kitchen. I LOVE how big our kitchen is going to be. I already have my eyes on the washing machine and refrigerator that I want (I find it less easy to get excited about an oven – they all look/ do the same).
So there you have it. We still have a lot of work to do. Julio’s brother Christian is almost finished putting in the electricity (with the help of a qualified electrical engineer) and when the walls around the windows are finished (hopefully this week), Julio and Christian will be able to make a start on the windows and doors. When I look at the land I sometimes see a dirty messy building site, and other times I am able to imagine our lovely finished home. I promise to post more soon.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Well I have been so delinquent in writing my blog that it would surprise me if anyone is still reading it - except maybe my parents (who I know are more excited about an update on the building of our house than our England trip which they witnessed first hand).
Life has been such a whirl wind since September that I've not had a chance to sit down and write. I'm now sitting at the desk in the Dive Shop that I work for. A cold front has hit the Island and the hotel has only 30% occupancy, so it has been a very slow afternoon. I do have other work I should be doing but I decided that it would be much nicer to update my blog instead. I just realized that the most recent photographs from our house are still on my camera - so maybe for tomorrow.
England... It seems like an age ago that my husband and I set off for England. It was Julio's first time out of Mexico and first time on a plane! We were very lucky because my brother works for British Airways and we were able to get an insanely good price on Club Class tickets through him. The jorney over to the UK was a breeze as we were able to sleep all of the way. We then rented a car and drove to Newcastle, arriving late at night. It actually felt very natural for me to have Julio in my parents home (which ofcourse is home to me to - my parents have lived in that house since I was born). It was weird for us both to sleep under duvets/ down comforters and still be a little cold.
On our first day, we went with my parents to an old English stately home called Wallington Hall. The Hall has beautiful grounds full of gardens loaded with flowers and trees.

We both liked being outdoors and enjoyed comparing the plants and trees with those in Mexico. Julio was particularly impressed with the Robin, who has a very distinctive song as well as a bright red breast.
It made me think of how excited I feel when we get parrots in our back yard in Mexico - this little Robin must seem just as exotic to Julio. Here is a picture of my parents walking through the walled garden:
We stayed in Newcastle for a few days. Julio met all of my cousins - and for the most part managed to understand their Geordie accents. We had lunch with my best friend Lisa and coffee with a friend Julie. It was really nice to introduce my husband to all of the people who mean so much to me in my life. Most of the time we just spent relaxing with my parents. Of course I managed to squeeze in a shopping trip! I also took Julio to Tyne Mouth to see the sea off the North Coast - a little different to our nice, warm cristal clear waters!!
We had also really wanted to spend a little time alone together as we really have never been on a vacation together before. We decided to have a mini belated honeymoon in The Lake District. The Lake District is a mountainous area in the North West of England which is famous for its lakes and hiking. We stayed at a little cottage in Troutbeck.
We had two days alone and then my parents, brother and girlfriend and my aunt and uncle all came over to join us for a family get together. The cottage was beautiful and had amazing views over the fells. The weather was a little crappy - but then the Lake District is also famous for its rain! This did not bother us in the least, we hiked over a mountain into the town of Ambleside, cooked in the cottage, snuggled, talked, watched videos and enjoyed the views out of the window...

I was very happy to find that my husband fitted into my life in England as well as we fit together in Cozumel. I think he and my parents are developing a real fondness for each other, and it was a first for me and my brother to sit at a table with both of our partners.