Dear Diary : Christmas in England during a Pandemic

A little bit of a different post but I wanted to record normal family life and our Christmas during the Coronavirus Pandemic in 2020. At this point in time, Steve and I are in our late 30s living in Cramlington, Northumberland with our children Harry (14), Heidi (11) and Jack (9). We have been living with Coronavirus restrictions for 8 months now. 

I am usually super busy from mid-November to mid-December attending various Christmas events, pantos and markets. This year is going to be pretty different for us. I will be updating this post and re-sharing regularly with little snippets of what we've been up to. 

Wednesday 25 November 2020
- Christmas Bubbles, The Christmas Chronicles & Festive Bedding

Yesterday the Government announced their plans for Christmas bubbles - up to three households are able to get together over Christmas for five days over Christmas. The bubbles need to be exclusive and we need to be sensible (and there are some exceptions). 

As I mentioned on my Instagram stories, I already know there is going to be SO much judgement over this and what people choose to do. I can see a third wave being blamed on those who do meet up with families and those who don't called selfish/that they don't love their family/they don't care about mental health. In fact I have already seen a bit of this today. For goodness sake, please remember to be kind. We all face some tough choices but I am sure everyone will make the right choice for their circumstances. 

Today I cleaned the kids' bedrooms out and changed their bedding over to Christmas bedding. They have never had Christmas bedding before but we will be pretty much spending all of December at home so I thought it was a nice tradition to start and it would see them through their teenage years too. It's never too late to start a new tradition. I bought them some new PJs (Asda), a Santa hot water bottle (the type you put in the microwave - £3.99 for Home Bargains), a festive candle (also Home Bargains - 79p) and a new Christmas book, 'The Geordie Santa' by local magician Chris Cross which looks fab (buy here). 

Tonight we are watching The Christmas Chronicles 2 which premieres on Netflix. I love the first film and cannot wait to see the second installment. I have gone a little extra with a red carpet and we are having Bucks Fizz and Pigs in Blankets / canapes too. I am really trying to find the magic where we can this year. 

Tomorrow I am meeting a friend at the beach for a walk and takeaway coffee. Under current rules, you can meet one other person (who is not from your household) outdoors (whilst socially distancing). I have been feeling really lonely at home all day every day with no one to talk to so I am looking forward to actually going out, getting some fresh air and catching up with a friend. 

The rules around meeting others changes back to 'the rule of 6' (with various restrictions depending on your Tier) on 3 December. Before the pandemic I used to catch up with the girls regularly and we would spend mornings at Wetherspoons with unlimited coffee but it has been much harder to meet up this year - a combination of restrictions, lack of time and lack of childcare. I really miss it so at the moment, will take any chance to meet up that I can.  

Monday 23 November 2020 - It's Beginning to look a lot like Christmas, a festive toastie and a Prime Minister's briefing

I have taken this week off work (well as 'off' as I can) to get the house sorted for Christmas. I spent the morning wrapping gifts which is usually my most-hated job but it actually wasn't too bad today. I treated myself to a festive toastie and chocolate orange hot chocolate from Costa for lunch and it was just the best. I ordered via Uber Eats and it was here in 15 minutes. Fab service! I reckon this may be a regular Monday treat for me now. 

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I am organising our house room by room and started with our conservatory. Harry and Heidi went in the loft yesterday and accidentally brought our old Christmas Tree down too so I decided to put this up in the conservatory with a few super old baubles. I added a few festive touches and put our advent calendars out too. Over the next few weeks I will be trying to find a nice table runner to finish the room off. I haven't been able to find one I like so far. 

I have extended our table out for over December so there is more room for decorations and space for our early Christmas dinner which Steve is cooking for us on 6 December. I think it looks much better extended and might just keep it like this permanently. 

So our main Christmas Tree was just in a box on our living room floor staring at me. I couldn't resist so put it up. I love it! I am holding off putting the baubles on until Friday though so we can make it more of a family occasion. Our main Christmas Tree has pre-lit lights and I highly recommend this type of tree. There are also 7 light settings with warm or bright lights available. We have had it for 5 years now and it's still going strong. 

I want to get a Poinsettia for the centre of the fireplace where the mini tree is but that will just have to wait for when I am next at the shops whenever that may be. 

I have just finished listening to the Prime Minister's statement to Parliament. Boris had to speak to the House of Commons via video link as he is currently self-isolating. The Speaker of the House apologised that not all of the TVs in the chamber were working properly and MPs would just have to watch as best they can. Honestly sums up the Government.

He outlined a few of the measures that are going to be in place when we exit this current lockdown on 2 December and mentioned that a lot of the country will be in stricter measures than before and this does have me worried that the North East will be in the toughest tier 3 restrictions. 

Yes, there are bigger things at play here and it is not going to be like this forever but having pubs, restaurants and hospitality venues closed in December just makes me so sad.  All of the venues I have visited when I have been able to have been super careful with everything. Obvs I am not a Scientist but I do question the thinking behind this one.  Even saying they could open and we were only allowed alcohol with a meal, table service only, face coverings when not seated and limited to two drinks would make a huge difference. I don't know what the answer is and it is tough but I can't help but feel so sad for the pubs and restaurants facing yet more restrictions after the toughest of years. 

I also worry about the theatres and indoor entertainment venues that have made plans for December and if placed in tier 3, will no longer be able to go ahead. So many disappointed families and business owners and just another write-off to add to this year. I just hope that these measures actually work and do reducetransmission. I understand the importance behind the decisions but I also think it is ok to feel sad at more restrictions being placed on your life. 

We have booked a lodge at Kielder in early Jan and I pray this can go ahead. Hotels are not able to open in Tier 3 and there is still a bit of time until then (and we may not be in Tier 3) so I guess we just have to wait and see. To me, us staying in a lodge in the middle of Kielder is very minimal risk to us and others - we won't see a soul and will keep ourselves to ourselves. 

The Prime Minister is giving a press conference at 7pm. I probably won't listen tonight. I remember at the start of the pandemic I was glued to the screen but now it's just kind of same old, same old and he often gets his own measures wrong and gives incorrect info anyway. I prefer to go off the guidance published on the Government website. We will find out what tier we are going to be in on Thursday. 

Steve will be home for 5pm this week so I am looking forward to snuggling up on the sofa tonight and watching the next episode of The Undoing and the final episode of this current series of The Crown. Take care. 

Sunday 22 November 2020  - Christmas during a Pandemic

Today is stir up Sunday, I have already made our Christmas cake but did 'feed' it with amaretto today. Lots of people have put their Christmas trees up early this year (and I don't blame them) but I am sticking with the last weekend in November. Steve is actually working next weekend so we are going to do in on Friday night. 

Steve and the kids are heading into the loft today to get our tree and decorations out in preparation. We seem to have accumulated lots of decorations over the years and have three big bags, a suitcase and a tree in a box. I am looking forward to reading through my Christmas recipe books tonight. 

I think most people are preparing for a Christmas at home this year. I have never been one to 'deep clean' our house before Christmas (I usually just give it a quick once over) but next week I am going to do just that before we put the tree and decorations up. As we will be spending most of the build-up to Christmas here and I have time on my hands, it makes sense. We have also put together a home bar as we won't be heading out for festive drinks with friends this year. I love it! 

We have no set plans for Christmas at the moment. At time of typing, England is in a fairly strict lockdown until 2 December with no mixing of households allowed indoors and us only being able to meet one other person in a public outdoor space.

Most non-essential shops and businesses are currently closed including cinemas, attractions, bookshops, hairdressers....... Boris is apparently announcing the Government plans for what we will and won't be allowed to do over Christmas on Monday so we'll wait and see what he says before deciding our plans.

At the moment, we actually have our local Indian restaurant booked with my mam/stepdad/bro who are in our childcare bubble as I occasionally watch Evan for a few hours while Mark works (but that doesn't mean we can mix socially). At the moment, who knows if this can go ahead. I am thinking probably not.  

I also booked lunch at the Dome in Edinburgh for my December birthday ages ago but Scotland have just announced a travel ban from England unless essential so it looks like I will be cancelling that.

This week, Jack's Primary school sent out a letter with details of how the Christmas fayre will work this year. It is an important event in terms of fundraising for the school so we are all being asked to donate a raffle prize, buy raffle tickets and then send £1-£5 into school so the kids can buy some crafts and take part in a special Christmas fair in their own classroom bubble.

I actually much prefer this as it is always so crowded and busy in the school hall. I am gutted that Jack won't be taking part in a Christmas nativity this year. In our school, his year (year 5) take the lead parts in the school performance and Jack was looking forward to being something other than a shepherd and will now never get another chance. Just another side effect of the pandemic I guess. 

On a personal level, I am not religious but have attended the traditional nativity at our local church with the school for over 10 years. I haven't missed one and love singing carols with the children and listening to the readings. It's always really special. Ah it is almost making me cry thinking that it's not going to happen this year as I type this. Here's hoping it will be back to normal and better than ever next year. 

I will be back with an update soon. This week we are planning a film premiere at home for The Christmas Chronicles 2 which is available on Netflix from Wednesday. Hopefully my last post will be a little less gloomy. We do actually have a fair bit to look forward to over the next few weeks and I am still determined to have a magical time. 



  1. I really do love your bar! I'll admit I've really struggled with the concept of 2020 Christmas over the last week, a Christmas song came on the radio a few days ago and I got so upset at the thought of not being able to go out and do all the normal Festive things. I love the build up more than the day itself and it just feels so odd, I know it's only a sacrifice for a year (hopefully!)but it's just rubbish isn't it!

  2. This is such a good idea, Sam to document this. Loving the bar cart. I spied the Delia cookbook too. I think someone bought me that many, many years ago .... that I never used! Actually, I remember it was one of those book club things. Where you got some really expensive books for pennies and then a book a month after that. You’ll be too young to remember ... ask your mam :-)))) xo

    1. I used to work in an office a couple of years ago that still had one of these! I had some brilliant books from there :)

  3. I like the idea of the drinks bar! I actually emptied our drinks cabinet out as part of our deep clean- I got my first (thankfully mild) dose of food poisoning from some old, gone off liquer so I stopped drinking for a good long time after. I've started stocking up again, so will take some inspiration from you and make it look pretty too!

  4. This year is certainly going to be a different sort of Christmas.
    We put our decorations up yesterday and decided we needed a new tree so that's ordered and it's coming tomorrow.
    Your home bar looks amazing! So fancy.
    Oh no! I hadn't thought of all the things that people will be missing in the run up to Christmas to do with school. I used to love the carol service at the church and nativities.
    I can't wait for The Christmas Chronicles 2. x

  5. Childcare bubbles are meant to be used for childcare only - it's a common misconception that it's wider:

    "You can only use a childcare bubble for childcare – that is, where the child’s parent or regular carer is not present. You cannot use a childcare bubble to mix with another household for other reasons."

    1. Yes I know, I did mention that you cannot mix socially with a childcare bubble in the post.

    2. That's fine but you mention the childcare bubble in the context of going for dinner which reads as if the two are linked. People have been talking about going to center parcs with their childcare bubbles and as someone who relies on one I'm paranoid about them being taken away so we all have a responsibility to be really clear

    3. I think you need to read it again. I say we have a restaurant booked for Christmas day (it was booked a year ago) however we can't mix with our childcare bubble socially so I don't think our Christmas lunch will be going ahead. I don't think I can be clearer about our situation and nowhere do I mention going away to center parcs - perhaps you need to take your issues up with those who have said they are.

  6. I really feel for all the parents with children in nursery and Reception, who are going to miss out on their children's first Nativity play this year. I will miss them, as they always put me in a festive mood. Can't say I'm going to miss the school Christmas fair though, as I'm usually the one that has to run it! Feel a bit bad I haven't even organised a raffle though 😬 Absolutely love your new bar...we're all going to save a fortune on Christmas nights out this year!

    1. Ah yeah, that's such a big milestone! Yep, we usually book a fancy hotel for my Dec birthday. Next year's will just have to be double fancy x

  7. My y3 son is so excited today because they are doing a nativity! They are going to film it for parents to watch and are performing it outside so they can sing. At least watching home alone the crying will be less embarrassing!


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