Sally Hall: Plenty to be said for getting away for Christmas in the sun

CELEBRATION: Thousands descended on Trafalgar Square for New Year's Eve. PIC: PA
CELEBRATION: Thousands descended on Trafalgar Square for New Year's Eve. PIC: PA
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My first cause for celebration in 2015 has already arrived...because whatever shape the weather decides to take in Leeds this New Year’s Eve, I won’t be around to shiver in it.

The pledge to escape the country was my new year’s resolution for 2014, following the horrors of last year.

My boyfriend’s parents visited from Germany for Christmas, in part at least to experience the legendary spectacle of London’s new year fireworks.

As the only English native in our party of four, and especially the only one who’d lived in London, I felt confident in my ability to navigate the big smoke and show my in-laws a good time.

You’d think I’d have learned by now not to get too complacent about my own capacity for disaster.

We made our way down to London by train, trying to ignore the gales and torrential downpours buffetting the carriage.

As my boyfriend’s parents don’t speak any English, we had some difficulty placating the man who became instantly incandescent with rage when he thought we’d stolen his allocated seats (we hadn’t).

I’ve never seen a face turn so purple so quickly. It was like trying to calm down an aubergine.

By the time we arrived trepidation had already kicked in. The rain wasn’t letting up, and the apartment I’d selected for its geographical proximity to the Thames was further away than my ‘native’ knowledge had led me to believe. Armed with a bottle of fizz and multiple umbrellas, we set off to brave the crowds.

Sadly, the bus stopped unexpectedly about three miles short of our destination, leaving us no choice but to walk towards the London Eye. By the time we’d got to Lambeth Bridge the crowds were impenetrable and time was running out.

As we could see both Big Ben and the big wheel, I figured we’d be able to see the pyrotechnics too.

But as soon as the first rocket exploded, my heart sank.

The fireworks were absolutely miles away, and obscured by a million umbrellas.

Our only chance of getting a proper view was to peer through other people’s iPhones, which was in itself incredibly dispiriting.

Why wasn’t everyone hugging each other and shouting ‘Happy New Year’?

Instead, millions of people were standing there in silence, gawping individually at their own technological devices.

The collective bonhomie I’d anticipated for this magic moment was non-existent.

I’d never felt so lonely, and so crushed by crowds, at the same time.

However, this was just the beginning of our ordeal. My navigational confidence vanished in the face of a tidal wave of people hurtling towards Waterloo station.

For the next three hours (yes, three hours), we battled to get back to our apartment by any means necessary. In practice, largely through the strenuous application of shoe leather.

The fizz went undrunk in my backpack as we trudged through the streets of south London in silence, thoroughly soaked.

I felt so guilty for subjecting my in-laws to the ordeal. They are both lovely, and didn’t complain once. But the look of grim endurance on their faces told me all I needed to know about what kind of evening they’d had.

This year they will be safe and warm in their apartment, and we’ll be in Spain, waltzing through the streets of Seville.

I know nothing about the city at all, so I am setting out with zero expectations regarding fireworks.

Whatever happens, I’ll take a moment to be thankful for the support and love of my family and friends in 2014 – not least my sweet in-laws, whose heritage precludes the British propensity for moaning which I have inherited only too well.

WATER TREAT: The river at Otley full of people in pedalos and rowing boats.

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