Just as expected, the month of November flew by so fast that I’m definitely in denial that it’s Christmas time already. It’s finally acceptable to put up my wonky and malnourished Christmas tree, to plan New Years Eve outfits and to frantically search for a Christmas night contingency plan now that Downton Abbey has closed its doors.
This year I feel that my annual Christmas rush to buy the perfect gifts for friends and family, out-do last year’s Christmas baking and to find various activities sprinkled with the right amount of festive merriment has reached peak lateness. I haven’t written a Christmas list, sent any Christmas cards, and at this rate all my father will be getting on Christmas day is the joy of my presence. Typical me.
In the midst of my seasonal panic, now seems like a good a time as any to look back over my November highlights instead of worrying about the failed Christmas I have yet to have. Because while I might be a little behind this year on embracing the Christmas cheer, making handmade wreaths or homemade mince pies, I have been working indefatigably towards securing my first real job in journalism. And this Christmas, the best gift I can get myself and my family is proof that their investment in me has been worth it and hope that sometime soon they can call me a fully-fledged journalist instead of a “stay at home daughter.” Cue the anxious achievements:
1. I started watching Revenge with my Dad. It might be old news to those who loyally followed the series back in 2011, but it came to my attention at the BHS closing down sale. Emily’s plotting and scheming has made the long winter nights more bearable. Definitely one of the best £1 I have ever spent.
2. I drank copious amounts of Starbucks’ eggnog lattes. So pricey, but so delicious.
3. I thoroughly enjoyed one of my favourite times of the year: rugby season. The Autumn Internationals is sacred family time for my mother, father, sister and I. We are all busy people living in different places. But, we’d rather cancel Christmas than miss out on a day at the Principality Stadium.
4. I experimented with contouring my face, and despite my fears I would look like a Picasso, by the time I’d finished with the brush I was almost pleased with the results.
5. I managed to sneak in a selfie with Dan Lydiate and Alex Cuthbert.
6. I accidentally met an Olympian. After one of the rugby matches, my sister and I happened to be sitting at a table with a bunch of boys. We started talking, and after a few Old Mout ciders began teasing them about their brown suits and bushy moustaches. It wasn’t until after we’d reached peak banter that we realised we’d been ripping into the rugby sevens’ Olympic silver medalists. Winners of the quick wit gold – the Phillips sisters.
7. I took my sister on her first night out in Cardiff. We dolled ourselves up and deceived ourselves into thinking we were lying on a beach in the Bahamas long enough to reach the doors of Be at One. Bumping into our cousin along the way and roping him into a night on the town, we spent the evening drinking cocktails, dancing to the old classics while my sister impersonated a woman named Ruth to sit at a VIP table. The night ended as all nights in Cardiff do – Chip Pan Alley.
8. I visited one of my favourite local spots with my mother. We spent the day browsing the shops of Llandeilo, having lunch in our usual café and discovering apple and cinnamon tea.
9. I spent the day with my friends at Folly Farm. Yes, we were the only people there over the age of seven, but you really are never too old to appreciate the beauty of the natural world or to watch your friend become best buds with a parrot.
10. I caught up with my University of Reading housemate. Although it had been a year and a half since we’d last met, as soon as we saw each other we just got straight back into the swing of things and got on with what we do best – laughing, eating, shopping and discovering new places.
11. I visited the Cotswolds for the first time. My friend and I picked a central spot between our houses and settled on Cheltenham. We booked an Airbnb and spent the next few days exploring the surrounding area. Visiting Burton-on-the-Water was like walking around inside a postcard.
12. I watched my favourite non-Welsh rugby team play in the flesh. The fearless Japanese rugby team is just a delight to watch. Go, Brave Blossoms.
13. I spent the day looking around a new part of Cardiff with my parents. Strolling around Sophia Gardens, walking the streets of Pontcanna – known as the Notting Hill of Cardiff – finished off with pub grub is recipe for a perfect Sunday.
14. I helped someone get their foot in the door of the journalism world. There’s no better feeling than knowing that you’ve helped someone get one step closer to starting their dream career.
15. I got to look around Bristol Christmas Markets with my cousin. Nando’s, a few impromptu purchases and an afternoon spent sipping toffee apple cider in the middle of the day is what Christmas is all about.
16. I finally got around to sorting through all my A level and undergraduate notes. Getting rid of endless files and flashcards was hard as it felt like I was throwing away all of my hard work, but it also reminded me of how far I’ve come and what I’ve achieved. Plus, my room no longer looks like an extension of the National Archives.
17. I watched my sister do her thing playing Rizzo in the school production of Grease. It was great to see my sister having such a ball on stage. Her solo of “There are worse things I could do” ranks up there in the top 5 proudest sister moments.
18. I played stylist to my sister when we went shopping for her dinner dance dress. Getting to style a real life Barbie doll was a dream.
19. I managed to get a team pic with a few of South Africa’s most beautiful rugby playing men.
20. I introduced my sister to a whole new world of clubbing. For her first taste of Cardiff’s nightclub scene we headed for Tiger Tiger. We danced to S Club, reluctantly bought the extortionately expensive drinks and Nia spread her wings and fully participated in the doomsday chaos of trying to hail a taxi home.
21. I headed back to London for another internship at BA’s High Life magazine.
22. I tasted the food at Itsu for the first time.
23. I walked from the Northbank to the Southbank Christmas market. So so festive.
24. I met up with the Cardiff Maglab gang in central London and spent a few hours laughing at the madness of London, the obsession with Pret and the do or die attitude of people trying to jump on to tube trains which are full or accelerating.
25. I visited the winner of all Winter Wonderlands in Hyde Park. It was better than I’d imagined. From the revolving carousel bar to the singer sat singing Christmas tunes at the centre of the ice rink, every detail embodied the spirit of Christmas.