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Nicole Webb

Expat Focus Columnists

(meet all our columnists here)


Nicole Webb

Nicole Webb

The Christmas Spirit In Xi'an, China

by Nicole Webb, Saturday December 20, 2014 (22:44:45)   (18 Reads)
Nicole Webb
“He’s checking his list, he’s checking it twice, he’s going to find out who’s naughty or nice….."

Sing it with me!

"….Santa Claus is coming to tooooown!!”

No pretending you don't know this one ladies and gents!

It’s one of those traditional, well known and much loved songs you hear ringing out across the radio, TV and in shopping centres and schools at this time of year, every. single. year. Without fail.

But whether or not Santa Claus is coming to this town? Well…..if he is, it will probably be a quick visit!   more ...

James King

James King

South Africa Diaries: Part 6 - Mission Two

by James King, Friday December 19, 2014 (21:56:23)   (81 Reads)
James King
Preparing For England

Within minutes of our arrival I was on the beach and wallowing in the warm, shark-infested, waters of the Indian Ocean. Cape Town beaches are great; with wide open expanses of sand and dunes on the West Coast you can walk for miles and often hardly see another soul. But even brass monkeys don’t swim in the Southern Atlantic. The Indian Ocean on the other hand is so warm and inviting that it is easy to forget the undertow of the huge rollers and the razor toothed predators that skulk nearby. The lifeguards and surfers are watchful and skilled and the shark nets generally provide adequate protection to the beach-goers.

But leisure time is limited now as I prepare to return to England after my first three months at the bottom of Africa.   more ...

Michelle Garrett

Michelle Garrett

Crackers Christmas

by Michelle Garrett, Friday December 19, 2014 (21:24:19)   (78 Reads)
Michelle Garrett
One of the most interesting things about living overseas is experiencing the way different cultures celebrate holidays. The Christmas Cracker has become one of my favourites.

Over 20 years ago I spent one of my first Christmases in Britain with my fiancé and his staid relatives. The oldest generation arrived slow and creaking, placed gently in the overstuffed chairs in the living room facing the fireplace. Father-in-law-to-be poured sherry in pretty little glasses on a silver tray and passed them around. Not my first sherry, but I’d only had it once before, the previous Christmas. My nostrils flared and my lips pursed. It smelled of the mince pies I had yet to fall in love with.   more ...

Susanna Perkins

Susanna Perkins

Panama, Where Friendship Is Easy

by Susanna Perkins, Friday December 19, 2014 (21:06:44)   (66 Reads)
Susanna Perkins
Since moving back to the US, I’ve become painfully aware of one huge difference between living here and living there.

Meeting people and making friends in Panama was easy. Doing it here is hard.

A vibrant social life was one of our pleasures in Las Tablas. We had plenty of friends, and getting together was easy.

It started within a few days of my arrival in Las Tablas.

Because Panama doesn't really have pet-friendly hotels, I flew down to find us a place to live while my husband and the dogs stayed in Florida to wrap up a few things. Less than 24 hours after I arrived in Las Tablas, I met my first friend.   more ...

Marla Sink Druzgal

Marla Sink Druzgal

Christmas Birds In South Africa

by Marla Sink Druzgal, Friday December 19, 2014 (00:49:11)   (8 Reads)
Marla Sink Druzgal
It’s strange to pair the usual commercial Christmas characters with a summertime holiday. Polar bears, reindeer, and a jolly old man in a heavy, woolen red suit just doesn’t feel right.

We’ve seen our share of Santa Clause as adapted for warmer climates before. In California it’s popular to put Santa in swim trunks and have him riding a surfboard. But even in California, December is winter, with its milder weather reminding everyone that just a day’s drive into the mountains could find them in snow. Jingle bells rock the retail stores’ sound systems. Buildings are decorated from basement to penthouse, and if you want a white Christmas without the road trip, there’s always some crazy local with a snow machine who finds pleasure or passion in bringing a mini nor’easter to the crazy town of Venice, California.   more ...

June Finnigan

June Finnigan

A Month In The Life of an English Writer In Tuscany - November Reflections

by June Finnigan, Sunday December 14, 2014 (22:49:11)   (118 Reads)
June Finnigan
The continuing adventures of June Finnigan, her Man, and Farty Barty the cat.

Benvenuti to all my Loyal and New Followers

Now you will have heard me mention before that here in beautiful Tuscany and indeed throughout Italy, the Italians will always find an excuse for a Festa.

At the very end of October we were celebrating the Day of the Dead when half the population was found parking all the way down the road below the cemeteries. Then in the evening they dressed up in amazing costumes that bore absolutely no resemblance to Halloween. The theme in our area was animals or cartoon characters!   more ...

Diane Lemieux

Diane Lemieux

A Band Aid For Ebola

by Diane Lemieux, Wednesday December 03, 2014 (00:23:15)   (564 Reads)
Diane Lemieux
It’s a sad rendition of a song I never liked. I listened to it on YouTube when all the hoo-hah about the rehash of ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ started up. Let’s just say that I’m glad I don’t live somewhere where I’d hear it endlessly on the radio.

But the song isn’t meant to be good, right? It is supposed to be a clarion call for raising funds for a well-deserved cause. And that it is. The UN was having trouble collecting enough for its war on Ebola, and this song quickly raised over USD 1.5 million. Where our governments weren’t willing to cough up tax dollars until Ebola patients started showing up in local hospitals, ordinary citizens showed solidarity with people of nations far away.   more ...

Barry O'Leary

Barry O'Leary

You Can’t Beat Christmas With Your Own Kind

by Barry O'Leary, Tuesday December 02, 2014 (00:27:18)   (530 Reads)
Barry O’Leary
Boy am I glad to be heading back to London for Christmas. Last year I spent Christmas in Seville, not really through choice, but we’d just had a baby and decided it would be better not to fly back, mainly because of Mr Jack Frost, but also because the only airline with free flights was Ryanair. It was the third year I’d been away from my homeland for Christmas, and the third year I’d come to the conclusion that you can’t beat spending the festive period in your own country, with your own kind.

I’m not saying that Christmas in Seville wasn’t special, most holiday periods are excellent here and Spanish people know how to have a fiesta. However, given the choice, I’d prefer to be back in England, mainly because that’s where I have all my childhood memories.   more ...

Judi Lembke

Judi Lembke

Celebrating The Holidays At Home ...Or At Home

by Judi Lembke, Saturday November 29, 2014 (19:11:35)   (371 Reads)
Judi Lembke
As I sit here in Northern Europe on the fourth Thursday in November, I’m scrolling through the many social media postings that have been littering my feed over the last 24 hours or so, drawing my attention to Thanksgiving.

There are the nice ‘I give thanks for my kids/partner/dog/life’ postings, and then there are the ‘Here’s the best way to stuff a bird’ ones. I’m thankful for lots of things but when I start to read exchanges about the feasts that await everyone I not only start to get homesick, I start to get hungry.

Each holiday season so many of us face the same dilemma: should we head ‘home’ and celebrate with those who live so far away? Or should we stay ‘home’ and celebrate with those we’ve grown close to?   more ...

Rosemary Border Rabson

Rosemary Border Rabson

Christmas In The Morvan

by Rosemary Border Rabson, Thursday November 27, 2014 (21:42:06)   (517 Reads)
Rosemary Border Rabson
It's official: Christmas is coming to the Morvan. The Morvan? Think of the Yorkshire Dales, but with better roads and less hype. Nobody comes here for motorways, theatres, discos, shopping malls or even ubiquitous broad band. We are online thanks to a gizmo on our balcony which provides a microwave link to a base station in Corbigny, our nearest town. We are 20 miles from the nearest cinema, although movies are occasionally screened at the Centre Médico-Social in Corbigny, which also offers tap dancing classes, sewing bees, tax advice and the annual flu jabs.

In the UK the Christmas hype seems to start around Michaelmas.   more ...

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