Tis The Season

In Mexico things were much simpler. There was rainy season and there was dry season. There wasn’t the world of difference between the two, really. A bit cooler in the mornings and evenings in dry season. And you’d get an hour or two of rain in the evening in, predictably, the rainy season. Otherwise, it would be sunny and warm. Just how I like it. There was no real autumn, winter or spring. Not that an Englishman would recognise. The new shoots would be well underway before last years leaves had fully fallen.

However, I liked to add a third season to the traditional two seasons. Jacaranda season. If you were going to be persnickety, you’d point out that this is spring. But the Jacarandas spread such a magical lavender sheen to the sky and a carpet of lavender leaves on the ground. It just seemed to wonderful to simply refer to it as ‘spring’.

In the UK we have real seasons. There is often debate as to the when, exactly, each season is. I like to apply logic and simplicity. March, April and May are spring. June, July and August are summer. September, October an November are autumn. The remainder are winter. Miserable, bleak, wet, dark, depressing, never-ending winter. I hate it. There’s no time of year when I wish I was back in Mexico more than in winter.

But perhaps the UK needs an extra season too. December is most definitely winter. Yet it’s one of my favourite months. It’s cold, but the cold still has novelty value. And the towns and cities are bathed in lights, glitter, sparkly things, baubels, decorated trees and cheesy music. Christmas deserves to be a season all of its own. After all, the old song does state, ‘Tis the season to be jolly…’. Thus I have evidence to support my claim.

London is the brightest and jolliest of all the towns and cities to visit. I’ve noticed more and more places taking advantage of all the festivity to bring the punters in, with illuminated displays. We visited Kew Gardens. I rather imagine that they have a tough time drumming up business in the middle of winter. Mostly because all their main attractions look pretty much dead. Can you imagine a zoo trying to get customers in to look at animal corpses? Exactly.

But….add a million fairy lights, dozens of strings of LEDs, some pots of fire, some Santas and light the famous greenhouse up in seasonal shades of red, white and green. Or, as Mrs P and I preferred to think, the colours of the Mexican flag. Serve up some mulled wine and chestnuts, and hey presto – you got yourself a tourist attraction. To see all the photos I took, click here to be transported to Flickr.


Photography, Uncategorized

The Apple Market


There is a magical place in London, where all your technological dreams come true. Staffed by pixies and leprechauns, who have brought with them the finest gifts from the end of the rainbow to sell to those of us lucky enough to know the whereabouts of this secret marketplace. Freshly cut bouquests of iPads, posies of iPod Nanos and bunches of iPhones adorn the stalls. If you’re feeling flush, perhaps you might be interested in an extra special iMac arrangement, or maybe, as it’s Christmas, you’ll be tempted by a wreath made out of purest gold MacBooks.

Alternatively, I’ve been for a day to London, stopping by at Covent Garden, to enjoy the Christmas lights. Take your pick. Whichever tale sounds best to you, that’s the true story.

On another note, WordPress have changed their quick post editor. Again. I found the first version to be a bit ‘meh’. This latest update is awful. The full editor is still available, but I am a little tired of WordPress’ determination to always take me to the quick editor by default.


Merry Christmas

We celebrate Christmas for the twelfth time on this little blog of mine, and the time has come to offer the traditional seasons greetings. Over the last decade and a bit I have had people leave a comment from every continent bar Antartica. And visits, fleeting or otherwise from most countries on planet earth. My statistics page tells me that at least one person from 164 countries has passed this way since February 2012 alone. Most have been from the US, the UK and Mexico, in that order. But there have also been solitary sojourns from the likes of Sudan, Djibouti, Swaziland and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Even one chap or chapette from Iran. The Ayatollah got sloppy with his censorship!

This is very much a multicultural blog. Not only has it been the story of a Brit and a Mexican forging a life either here in the UK or over there in Mexico, but we’ve visited plenty of places inbetween and further afield. Then there are those varied international visitors offering their opinions on all that has been written. Yes, that’s you! May that continue for many years to come. Some people may choose to fear diversity, but over here we embrace it and enjoy the myriad of cultures, languages, foods and other stimulating treats on offer from every corner of the world whether we meet a thousand miles from here or just around the corner from Chez Denness. And it is in this spirit that Mrs P and I wish you all a truly…..

Geséende Kersfees, Gèzur Krishlindyet, Melkame Yeledet Beale, Gozhqq Késhmish, Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah, Felices Pasquas, Shenorhavor Dzenount, Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun, Poket Kristmet, Shuvo Boro Din, Zorionak eta Urte Berri On, Vrolijke Kerstmis, Vesele Vanoce, Feliz Natal, Nedeleg laouen, Tchestita Koleda, Gun Tso Sun Tan’ Gung Haw Sun, Kong He Xin Xi, Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth, Mitho Makosi Kesikansi, Srecan Bozic, Veselé Vánoce, Glædelig Jul, Vrolijk Kerstfeest, Merry Christmas, Gajan Kristnaskon, Rehus-Beal-Ledeats, Häid jõule, Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad, Maligayang Pasko, Hyvää joulua, Joyeux Noèl, Goede Krystdagen, Nollaig Chridheil, Gilotsavt Krist’es Shobas, Froehliche Weihnachten, Juullimi pilluartsi, Kala ChristouyennavV’ya pave mita tupara-pe, Barka da KirsìmatìvMele Kalikimaka, Shub Naya Baras, Kellemes Karácsonyi ünnepeket, Gledileg Jól, Selamat Hari Natal, Nollaig Shona DhuitvBuon Natale, Kurisumasu Omedeto, Sung Tan Chuk Hav, Wanikiya tonpi wowiyuskinv, Felice Festa Navititas, Prieci’gus Ziemsve’tkus, Linksmu Kalédu, Schéi Chrèschtdeeg, Nollick ghennal, Il-Milied It-Tajjeb, Meri Kirihimete, Shub Naya Varsh, Utzul mank’inal, Yá’át’ééh Keshmish, God Jul, Bagga Ayana Dhalehu Gofetatini Esenee gae, Wesolych Swiat, Boas Festas, Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi, Sumaj kausay kachun Navidad ch’sisipi, Sarbatori Bellas Hristos Razdajetsja, Buorre Juovllaid, Ia manuia le Kerisimasi, Hristos se rodi, Subha nath thalak Vewa, Veselé Vianoce, Vesele Bozicne, Feliz Navidad, God Jul, Ia ora i te Noera, Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal, Sawadee Pee Mai, Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun, Srozhdestvom Kristovym, Naya Saal Mubarak Ho, Chung Mung Giang Sinh, Nadolig Llawen, E ku odun, e ku iye’dun!

Did I miss anyone…?



A London Christmas

I love Christmas. I love London. Most of all, I love a London Christmas. The streets are busier than ever, but full of laughter, jingles and twinkling lights. The infamously cold and dour Londoners manage to turn frowns into smiles, and it is entirely possible that you will witness that rarest of events – a conversation spontaneously break out on the Underground. This is often known as ‘Festive Cheer’ and whilst it is highly contagious, fear not, it will pass. The cure to this seasonal disorder is commonly referred to as January. So make the most of a happy London while it lasts!

I jest, of course. London is a great place to visit at any time of the year, and the locals are much friendlier and more helpful that their international reputation would suggest. Except on the Underground. It really is bad form to attempt to chat to the person next to you! But I digress. Christmas is an excellent time to visit London.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s an expensive city at the best of times. At Christmas, it must be completely unaffordable. There’s no getting away from it. London is a very expensive city to live in. But to visit? It is almost certainly a lot more affordable than you think. Traditionally, one of the most expensive aspects of London is accommodation. But times have changed and a combination of an increasing number of hotel rooms, greater competitiveness and some very intelligent online booking sites means that prices have never been more affordable. Venere is an excellent example of a hotel search website that provides market leading rates across a wide range of hotels for every budget.

Once you’ve arranged a place to lay your head, what else is there to do in London? So, so much. If you fancy putting on some skates and hitting the ice, you’re spoiled for choice. Do you choose the glamour of Somerset House? Or how about skating in the shadow of the gothic wonder that is the Natural History Museum? There are also rinks at the Tower of London an Canary Wharf. But the finest place to skate in my opinion is at the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Which is far more than just an ice rink.

You should also go for a walk along the South Bank, starting from the London Eye Ferris wheel. There’s a whole Christmas Market going on there, with roasted chestnuts and mulled wine being served at multiple huts along the way. There are other markets well worth visiting of course.

There’s all the shopping too of course. Oxford Street is reputedly the world’s busiest shopping street. I can believe it. Pop into Selfridges for some serious glamour. Or, if you are just window shopping, stay outside and marvel at their legendary window displays. Fortnum and Mason isn’t too far away just off Piccadilly Circus. Then there’s the uber famous Harrods, which is a veritable institution in shopping. Last, but not least, pop along to Covent Garden which has been rejuvenated in recent years and houses saome fabulousb boutique shops, and undercover market and a huge selection of places to sit down to eat, drink and get merry.

Finally, just like any other day of the year, except for Christmas Day itself, there are some of the finest museums, castles, palaces, cathedrals and galleries in the world for you to explore. The British Museum, the Natural History Museum, Hampton Court Palace, St Paul’s, the Tower of London, the National Gallery, the various Tates, the Victoria and Albert…the list goes on and on. So what are you waiting for?



Merry Christmas!

Once upon a long, long time ago I went to a school in north London. It was a small private prep school for boys aged 7 to 13, and owned by a gentleman who looked like he’d come straight from Victorian England. Empire was revered, foreigners eyed with suspicion and Christianity played an important part in the school’s ethos.

Every Christmas we would all go to the nearby Emmanuel Church for a Christmas service. There would be carols and readings and it was always quite an enjoyable evening. Mostly because the church always had the most fantastic Christmas tree and decorations. Nowhere felt more Christmassy. Hark the Herald Angels was my favourite carol.

I have since shed the brainwashing. But Christmas is still a lovely time of year, whether you’re religious or not. I hear there’s a war on Christmas, but I can’t say I’ve ever witnessed it. I’ve never actually met someone having a war on Christmas. It must be a lonely profession. I have only met people who believe they are having a war against a war on Christmas. It must be a lonely war. I wish all the best for both of you! I like Christmas, and that’s that.

So today, on this December 25th, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and leave you with a video of a church service held here in Blighty every year. It is perhaps the most famous choir in the UK, set up by King Henry VI in Cambridge in the 1400s, and still doing its royal duty today. Merry Christmas!


Merry Navidad

A few bloggers have recently provided personal accounts of spending Thanksgiving in Mexico, and what it means to them. The general gist being, it’s not quite the same in Mexico as it is the good ole US of A. But then I dare say that there was little expectation it would be. Thanksgiving isn’t an event in Mexico. If it were, it would probably be called Smallpox Day, or Massexecution Day or perhaps even Silverlooting Day.

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Merry Christmas

I wish ye all a very Merry Christmas. Or Happy Holidays for the atheists. Or Happy Tuesday for all you of other faiths. What’s it for me? Food and Freebies day. It was good. Hope yours was too, however you like to celebrate it. Or not. I wish everyone well, every day. Mostly. Except for a select few – a very select few – whose absence from planet Earth would be a benefit for mankind. But that’s not an avenue to go down today. Today is all about goodwill, is it not?


This is my second Christmas since returning from Mexico. I grew to like Mexican Christmas’, even though they were far from what I was used to. I loved the food served up in Mexico. I wasn’t so fond of the midnight starting time. I’m not a night owl. By midnight I want to have been asleep for at least half an hour. I also like a traditional British Christmas dinner. Nothing beats pigs in blankets. Christmas lights work better in the UK’s bleak midwinter darkness too.

I have never been to church over Christmas, in either country. My Mexican relatives would have been and said their prayers,made their confessions and otherwise played their part in their local religious communities before I and Mrs P arrived for feast time. I always assumed so, anyway. Perhaps they assumed the same of me. I don’t know. I never really got into religious discussions with the extended members. I expect my agnostic outlook might not have won their approval. At the same time, I don’t think many, if any, would have held it against me.

My Mexican relatives and friends would probably find one of our traditions, the Queen’s Christmas Message, a little peculiar. It is a little peculiar. A little old lady who lives in a palace with servants, countless diamonds on hand for every occasion and a property portfolio that would many any corporation blush, presents herself on television to report on the world this year. What, one wonders, does she know of our world? Still. It has a quaint and charming appeal. It lasts just a few minutes. We’re stuffed full of enough turkey to forgive her for her indulgences. But yes, most Mexicans would find the message peculiar. Perhaps they would prefer my set of photos of London at Christmas – click here.

RIP Jack Klugman. I loved Quincy. A loved all those 70’s and 80’s American shows. Dallas, Cagney and Lacey, Magnum. But Quincy played perhaps the best character of them all.


Lottery Options

I didn’t use to play the National Lottery in the UK before I left to live in Mexico. I just kept the pound in my pocket and was richer for it. The chances of winning the jackpot are slim. Slimmer than getting hit by lightning. Even winning a tenner takes some doing. But I have taken up the game lately. I don’t need the jackpot. Just £5,000 would do nicely. £10,000 would be fantastic. We’d be on a plane in no time, and be back in Mexico City for the weekend.

If I did win the jackpot though? Or at least a few million. That would change things. We’d be in a hotel suite in London, by the weekend. we’d stay there until we’d purchased a nice little apartment in Kensington. London is a fabulous place to be if you’ve got a few bob. Dare I say there’s nowhere on earth better to be if you’ve got the cash. Me and Mrs P love our London trips. There’ll be more before our time is up. We’ll be there for the Diamond Jubilee and Olympics, for sure. Till then, here’s a few belated shots of the Christmas lights, on Flickr and Google.



Me and Jack

I know I have technically already wished everyone a Merry Christmas, but you can never have too much merry. I have a few moments spare, and a photograph to share….more practising at getting some bokeh going. That’s the only reason I put up the Christmas tree to be honest.

It’s Christmas Eve as I write this, although I’ll set it to publish tomorrow. I’ve already done a post for today. Everything is reasonably quiet. The traffic has slowed down, the flat upstairs is empty – the noisy workmen who inhabit it obviously do have real homes to go to after all.

And it’s just me here with the turtles. They’re no trouble at all really, bless their cotton socks. The occasional splash fest in the day time when some random noise upsets them, and a little begging for food in the evening. That’s all they do. Paola is in Milwaukee with her mum. It’s her last Christmas on this side of the Atlantic, and we will get all the ones to come together, so only seems fair this one is for her mum. I have work commitments anyway.

I don’t mind. Not a bit. A couple of weeks to do all the things I like doing that is normally forbidden. This evening, for example, I went to Happys, the finest pizza in all of Mexico City, and ordered myself a Four Cheese pizza. My favourite. But it brings Paola out in spots, so I would normally have to tolerate a Margerita. Which is tolerable. But not a taste fest delight.

Not everyone was happy. I stepped out of the pizzeria and strolled just a few yards to find a teary crowd outside a shop. What….they ran out of tequila? I peeked inside. Coffins. One of which was being prepared for use. More teary eyes arrived in cars as I strolled. That’s a damned day for that to happen.

But much as you sympathize, and as unwished for as misfortune is, life happens. Death too. And it’s always better if it happens to someone else, thank you very much. That’s a little selfish I know, but you probably know what I mean. The pizza tasted all the better with a little perspective. I can’t grumble at being separated by a trifling border from my family really. National borders are much easier to cross to and fro than ethereal borders.

But anyhow. I’m home, it’s quiet and that’s how I like it. I’m going to sit back in my sofa and watch a movie with my good old friend Jack. I don’t see him often. Just at Christmas, really. And I only enjoy his company in very small doses. Tonight’s movie? Shutter Island perhaps. Or maybe Grindhouse.

Or I might just watch Dom Joly’s Excellent Adventure again. Mr Joly is the funniest guy in Britain, I tell you. Or at least Eddie Izzards equal. If you like that sort of humour anyway. I’ve also discovered, whilst trawling YouTube, that Dom Joly did a series where he visited Mexico. I’ve found the torrent file. That will be my Christmas Day television. So till then, I leave you with my photo. Merry Christmas from me and Jack.


Christmas Wishes

The year is drawing to a close, as is my near six year long career as an English teacher. Although there might be further opportunities to continue this line of work back in the UK! It’s not an avenue I’m actively exploring though. But anyway, I have two final classes this year – one of which may yet take place in a pizza parlour.

My last visit of the year to one of my longest standing classes, more than five years in total, took place this morning. As tradition dictates, we went for a Christmas breakfast, and took the traditional Christmas breakfast photo. And a good time was had by all. As always, as demostrated by the two smaller photos below the main one, from years gone by.

I may or may not get to post again before Christmas Day. If not, I wish you all, whoever you may be, wherever you may be, and whenever you happen past this post, even if in mid July, a very Merry Christmas.


All I want For Christmas

Is not, surprise surprise, my two front teeth. I’ll happily settle for a single pre-molar in my left cheek. The old one had been giving me gip for weeks. Months in fact. Including a double infection, which hurts like a hammer been swung around inside my mouth. No more, because that little sucker has gone, and good riddance to him. But bloody Nora, was that one painful extraction. But I have packets and packets of pills and potions to help me through the next few days. As per the photo below. With the evil tooth centre stage…I will photograph anything!

A new tooth has been ordered. A porcelain number, at a cost of 8,000 pesos. Which I don’t currently have, but shortly after Christmas, with a little luck, I’ll get it sorted. It might seem extreme to post about a tooth, but it is seasonal, sort of. And there is a word of advice I can give to anyone seeking a dentist for the first time. Word of mouth is a good way to find one. But still…check his or her credentials. Get second opinions. All dentists in Mexico City are qualified, most of them highly.  It’s just that they’re not all necessarily qualified to be dentists.