Christmas with CIM

The Christmas season is well and truly upon us…

This is a special time of year for all the writers at CIM. As practicing Christians, of differing denominations, we all have our own way of revelling in the festive season.

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Our writers have taken some time to talk about their own habits over the Christmas period: how they’ll be celebrating, where there’ll be driving and who they’ll be with…

Jane

christmas-carols-37539_1280“Christmas is a very busy time of year for my husband and I. We’re not blessed with children, however our Church family is a truly extended one. Our congregation here in St. Ives is a big one and we have an active festive charity schedule – promoting the Christmas as a season of good will.

The day itself, will be a small affair. By the time we get round to Christmas itself, we’re usually content to sit back with a modest dinner and some soothing radio. The cars stay in the garage, getting some much deserved rest.”

Matt

“The Scout Movement, after long being involved with the Christian movement, has strong ties with the Christmas season. Although us Scouts have grown increasingly secular over the years, we still use the month of December to remind our boys of the importance of engaging in charitable activities.

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As far as driving goes, there’s always time for go-karting! I tend to get more time to myself during December, thanks to the Christmas break, so that means more time on the circuits!”

Rachel

porsche-driv“Jeff and I spend a lot of time working on the cars, during December. With the racing season looming in January, we always find ourselves with plenty of work to get done on the cars. Our local ministry holds some fantastic Christmas services, which we attend every year.

Every Christmas day, we take the Porsche out for a long drive round the countryside. It might seem like an old-fashioned tradition, but there’s nothing like tearing up the tarmac on the empty Christmas roads!”

Colm

“With the good Reverend Rob off in Spain this Christmas, my celebrations are going to be slightly different than usual. We’ve got a new holy man calling the orders of service, in our local church, so I’ll offer my help to him in any way I can.

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Christmas is a family affair for me. I forget about racing cars for a few days and spend some good quality time with my family. On Boxing Day we have the entire clan round ours and I’m forced into the kitchen, whilst the wife entertains!”

How do you like to celebrate Christmas? Are you going to be hitting the road or are you going to be in the kitchen, like Colm?

Road Tripping to Spain – Moving House

Driving Abroad Can Be Stressful, Ever Tried Moving At The Same Time?

Although Brexit may have scared many ex-pats into considering moving back to Britain, that didn’t deter my racing partner, the good Reverend Jameson, from purchasing a home out in Spain.

He’s long been obsessed with Spanish culture, regarding their faith in Christianity, despite falling on hard times,  as a sign of strong national character.

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Having retired from formally preaching last year, the Rev finally had the opportunity to take his savings and purchase a small terraced house in Madrid. Although I was sad to be losing my racing partner of 10 years, I could tell he was excited to be starting a new chapter of his life – taking our beloved Morris Minor to sunnier climes. 

Of course it’s quite a logistical challenge, up sticks and leaving a life built in the UK and moving to a foreign land. So when my old friend asked me to assist him in the big move and embark on a 1,000 mile road trip, there was only answer I could really give him.

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Now the question most normal people asked us, when we were neck deep in the planning of our grand tour was: why are you doing this yourselves?

It was a good question.

Indeed, there are many companies advertising online, that specialise in removals to and from Spain. Taking all the worries away, they can arrange packing, visas and transport. All you’d need to do is jump on a plane and meet them there – relaxing, but hardly much of a challenge!

As soon as the Rev mentioned a road trip, I knew that he could tell I was down for it. In the last ten years we’d both taken our beefed up Morris Minor screaming round the hair-pin bends and square-rights of England’s country roads. Us car owners are a sentimental bunch and Rob knew that I wouldn’t be able to resist one last ride, especially if it mean catching a bit of Mediterranean sun!

I could tell you about the numerous times our convoy was pulled over by French traffic cops, or how we very nearly toppled off a cliff top in Landes de Gascogne Regional Natural Park, but those are stories for another time.

What I’ll you offer you here now, are a few solid tips that will help you plan your own European road trip, so you can perhaps avoid a few of the pitfalls that we very nearly fell into…

Start Planning Early…

As the old Scout’s motto goes ‘Always Be Prepared’.

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Thankfully, you can get fully up to scratch with the issues of insurance and visas using the internet. The UK government’s Travel advice website has done a great job of keeping their information up to date, so make sure you check that out before you start planning.

Bring A Map…

Even  a couple of old geezers like us have got spoiled by technology!

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You’d be surprised when GPS signal can just drop out, when you’re travelling through the hills of France or Italy. You may well need to take a small encyclopaedia of road maps with you, but they’ll be worth it when the Sat-Nav falls ominously silent!

Don’t Forget The Essentials…

There are a few things that you absolutely must take with you, when driving in mainland Europe.

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If you’re stopped by traffic police and caught without these things, they will fine you and put a real damper on your road trip. Make sure you bring:

  • GB Sticker
  • Headlamp Converters
  • Warning Triangle
  • Hi-Vis Jacket
  • First Aid Kit
  • NF Approved Breathalyser (France only)

I can’t promise that your European Road Trip will go completely smoothly, but you’ll at least have a better head start than we did.

As the good book says: ‘The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.’ [Proverbs 16:9]