Christmas, Part 1: Villefranche

Christmas started early, with my family coming down to visit me this year. [Which is a very sensible idea - why have we never gone away to warm and sunny places for Christmas before? We should definitely do so again. Although you (feckless relatives) bought the rain and cold with you. But I forgive you, because it's Christmas. And because you helped me move.]

It actually went spectacularly well, for a Hill family Christmas. No one got electrocuted, nothing burnt down, we didn't crash in a pit of fiery metal-box-of-death collision. Everything went great! The plan was, for those of you who are eagerly awaiting every detail of my family Christmas - and, more realistically, so I can remember in the future what we did - for my little brother and his girlfriend to come down to us, flying into Geneva where my parents and The Metal Box would pick them up. But my dad ripped his ankle to pieces a couple of days before they were due to set off, so James and Vix ended up flying down to Nice instead, where my parents drove down a more direct route, avoiding Geneva entirely and getting here mid-afternoon. Albeit slightly more stressed than they would have been, had they had the benefit of my fabulous local wisdom and directions, to get them down big main roads, rather than the tiny twisty ones they actually took. Still, they ended up exactly where I had envisaged them being, and no one official came and threw them out, so a success all round.

James and Vix stayed in our old flat, and moved all our remaining stuff over, box at a time, in payment - thank you both, much appreciated! The next few days were spent going round Christmas markets (the one in Nice was good, the one in Monaco was good, the one in Villefranche was sadly non-existent, despite signs indicating the contrary...) and seeing the sights of round here. And shopping and cooking. Our flat is not, it seems, big enough for 6 people for any great length of time... Still, no stabbings, no contamination of vegan food, all sorted! (And this flat, surprisingly - and uniquely amongst all the places I've lived - actually has matching place settings for 6 people. Including champagne glasses.)

We left Villefranche in The Metal Box insanely early on the morning of the 18th December (I hadn't woken up at 6am for a very long time...), to go up an Alp for lunch with my older brother and his girlfriend.

We should all pause here, I think, to be particularly impressed by Vix - not only was she stuck in a very small metal box with my family, who she didn't know at all well, but she was doing so completely unexpectedly, as James hadn't mentioned the metal box element of this trip to her in advance. Presumably on the grounds that she's sane, and therefore wouldn't have come, if he had. I suspect shock and large amounts of alcohol may have been her salvation, but I'm still deeply impressed at how well she coped!

Part 2: The Journey to the Alp and Geneva, to follow shortly...

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