Force awakens , Christmas day (mock) and a hamper charity packing

Saturday 19th December was effectively Christmas eve for me and my Girlfriend as we aren't spending the actual eve or Christmas day together. So we decided what better way to work round this than treat it as our Christmas eve marked by seeing the most eagerly anticipated movie EVER! Star wars 7!

We went to the Cinema de lux in Cabot circus (Bristol), I'd never been before but the rumors of comfortable spacious seating I'd heard were so true. You could fall asleep in those loungers.

A 9pm showing didn't mean the feature film started then as we suffered 30 mins (30 mins!!) of ads some of which actually put me off seeing said films such as the new batman that looks dark, slick and stylish until the commercial reveals it descends rapidly into a generic action flick all glitz and no substance.

Zoolander 2 didn't raise any audible laughs and the new Will Ferrell film co-starring a chubby looking Mark Wahlberg who is inexplicably revered looked like garbage! Maybe the new charlie Brown movie will be Ok?

Star wars itself......I'll refrain from commenting, I am glad I've now seen it but will wait for the second movie with a little less enthusiasm.

After the movie we walked back through swathes of drunks, the streets more chaotic after we'd become accustomed to the sober calm of a cinema.

Our conversation was peppered with movie discussion, we were on the same page mostly, glad we saw it but, well, it wasn't quite what we hoped for and judging from the lack of reaction from the crowd at the end we were not alone.

Still, it was a good thing to do on our little Christmas Eve. Back home it was straight to bed for a reasonably early start doing some charity work helping pack Christmas meal food hampers, this we felt would be a very Christmassy thing to do.

The next morning we woke early, early for a holiday morning at 8am and after a little coffee and some pop tarts we made a bleary eyed 40 minute walk in the mild chill to the Southville's Southbank comnunity centre. The streets were so quiet I couldn't help feel the city was now collectively sleeping off it's hangover. But you have to be careful with that sort of thinking as you can get a bit self righteous.

The community centre had an old musty smell akin to a school assembly hall, there was a stage in the main room but unlike a place of education there was also a bar.

It's quite an airy building with a lot of rooms and rickety stairs (we had to carry potatoes upto the kitchen for the volunteers lunch later that day). In the main room there were two long tables in front of the stage which itself was covered in boxes of veg and tonnes of boxed frozen chicken. We were about 10 minutes early so sat with a few others sipping green tea from light clay colored plastic cups making small talk with the other early arrivals.

Quite quickly other volunteers arrived, a lot more!

It was good and bad having so many people come help as there wasn't enough jobs for everyone and after an hour packing we were finding ourselves increasingly pushed to the wayside as other people joined the hamper assembly line.

It was so good to see so many people wanting to help out though.

The hamper packing scheme is ran by the basket brigade packing and delivering hampers to people who've hit hard times, helping to make what would be a potentially depressing day enjoyable, hopefully memorable. Each hamper aims to feed a family of four and the quantities are pretty ample. A recipient family will get a bag of parsnips, potatoes, carrots and of course Brussels, there was a pack of stuffing , a whole chicken, a Christmas pudding and a few other items I couldn't quite see.

200 hampers went out that day delivered by more volunteers. That is hopefully 200 households in Bristol that had a nice Christmas meal that they didn't expect was coming, hopefully giving them a boost especially from the knowledge it was donated,packed and delivered by their own community :)

It has to be one of the best ways I've started a Christmas day celebration :)

As we were leaving we managed to make ourselves useful one last time handing out chickens at the doorway to drivers as the food hampers and chickens are separately packed.

We'd finished at 10:30am but still felt good for it. We'd done a bit of charity work, seen so many other people willing to do the same which was so nice, well worth it.

We stopped off at coffee no 1 for a dark brew and shared a brownie. The charity work wasn't over for us though as g/f wanted to do a thing called 'smile at a stranger'. Basically you pack of box of items for a homeless person working from a list of essentials then items classed as luxuries, the charity (based in Exeter) will then deliver the box of goodies for you to a homeless person. It was just a shame the scheme doesn't run in Bristol, you don't exactly struggle to find homeless folk here!

It was raining horribly outside but we braved it and headed to Wilkos then Primark to grab a toothbrush / paste, gloves, a scarf, a wolly hat and some thick socks.

I also wanted to do one additional piece of charity work but more directly so purchased a ham sandwich from tescos and handed it to a homeless guy slumped in a doorway on Corn Street.

After the shopping trip and sandwich giveaway we headed for one more coffee on a cafe just off queen square, there my g/f shared a revelation, rarely has a cafe in Bristol got her order right. As she listed off the times it has happened it was felt like watching the plot reveal on a good movie ' Oh Yeah!' I replied enlightened. The new Star Wars movie could learn from this - make plots more interesting!

Back at home we dried off and started a typical Christmas day sat on the sofa watching festive telly. We cooked gluten free mince pies using mince meat I received as a Christmas gift in 2013 from my sister in law then exchanged gifts.

Our dinner included the usual things like turkey and brussels (highly recommend cooking them with cream , bacon and chestnuts - pan fried) with roast spuds and parsnips well seasoned. It was such a nice time, it really did feel like Christmas!

The day just had all the hallmarks of a perfect day, it was such a nice Christmas day spent with someone very special and it felt weird Christmas day was still to come!

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