The Festive Season.

So that time of year has come and gone again. The time of year when eleven months of diet and exercise is ruined in a three day spree. The time of year when Bing Crosby is played incessantly everywhere you go. The time of year you start to wonder if your great aunt Mildred has Alzheimer’s, because if she remembered anything about you, she’d be damn certain you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing whatever monstrosity of a sweater she gave to you this year.

This year is the fourth year in a row I have spent Christmas and New Year’s in Europe, and the only one that I wished I was back in Australia. So for a few days I went to the next best place, Austria. Because if you slur the names enough, Austria and Australia are almost the same, right?

Austria says no, we are not the same.

Anyhow, I went to Salzburg, ate delicious meat with delicious cheese, wandered around Christmas markets and naturally did my best Julie Andrews impersonation in front of a snow-capped mountain. Which I’m sure has never been done by any other tourist in that city. In keeping with the whole “pretending to be in Australia” thing, I also got incredibly drunk on Christmas Eve, though I choose to place all of the blame on the lethal cocktail making skills of the Brazilian lawyer, and none on my inability to hold my liquor.

I had chosen to return to The Hague on Christmas Day in order to lunch with the unlucky members of the Portuguese Mafia required to remain in the Netherlands for Christmas concerts. I’m not entirely sure how I managed to make it from my friend’s place to the airport at 6am, but perhaps Santa gave me a Christmas miracle, as I woke myself up from my subtle public transport nap the stop before the airport. Now that’s a life skill to be proud of.

I was able to power through my hangover for long enough to make a decent replica of a Christmas trifle as my contribution to the Portuguese lunch. Of course, without actual Aeroplane Jelly or dolloping cream, it wasn’t a fully authentic trifle, but luckily the Mafia had nothing to compare it to.  After making the slightly successful trifle, I did my best to make it through lunch, but a powerful combination of tiredness, nausea and homesickness forced a retreat to bed for an afternoon nap. Isn’t napping what Christmas is all about anyway?

For the Portuguese Mafia: this is what real trifle should look like. Sorry ’bout that.

Upon awakening from my restorative sleep, I remembered that I had to go feed the cats I had agreed to look after while their slave owner was on holiday. Now, I will admit that she had messaged me saying that she had forgotten to buy extra cat food, and that I would need to buy some for them. I thought that meant there was some cat food, but not enough to get them through the full time she would be away.

There was no cat food.

She had left them a pile of food on the day she left… which was four days before Christmas. So when I arrived, those cats were pretty freaking hungry. And all the supermarkets were closed. After a fruitless Google to find any shops that could possibly be open, I headed outside to see if I could find a corner store, kindly stranger or dead pigeon that would help me feed the poor starving kittens.

As luck would have it, there was a corner store open in the vicinity. God bless non-Christian store-keepers and their disregard for little baby Jesus. Strangely, this store sold only three things: booze; chocolate; and cat food. Which has led me to the conclusion that that neighbourhood (in which I also live) is primarily inhabited by lonely spinsters who need to drown their sorrows, eat their feelings, and feed their numerous cats.

I had better go buy numerous cats so I can fit in.

Anyhow, thanks to the Rainbow Avondwinkel, the cats survived. And thanks to a Dutch dinner party, I survived New Year’s Eve, despite The Hague doing its best to set itself on fire using mini-explosives aimed at windows and passing cyclists. However, a poorly timed cold has prevented me from throwing myself into the freezing North Sea with the other Dutch residents on New Year’s Day. It has also kept me from practicing all holiday.

What a terrible shame.

Happy New Year peeps!

 

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