Pickles and pie for breakfast

Hannah Davies asks people who’ve featured in The Journal’s My Place over the past year how they will be spending this festive season.

Hannah Davies asks people who’ve featured in The Journal’s My Place over the past year how they will be spending this festive season.

Andrew Dixon

Age: 48

Lives: Newcastle

Job: Chief Executive NewcastleGateshead Initiative

Family: Elliott, 11, and Lilly, nine.

How are you spending Christmas this year?

With family in Bristol and Seahouses in Northumberland.

What is the best Christmas you’ve ever had?

As a 10- or 11-year-old with grandparents and family playing silly games with flour and chocolate and doing my uncle’s annual treasure hunt.

Do you have any family Christmas traditions?

A walk on Tynemouth Longsands and a session round the piano with neighbours where the kids play their Christmas carols. The Snowman at The Sage Gateshead and the Customs House pantomime are also Christmastime favourites, along with the ice rink at Centre for Life.

What is your ideal way to spend Christmas?

At home with friends and family in NewcastleGateshead.

What is the best thing about Christmas?

Happy children.

What are you hoping Santa will bring you this year?

Something musical.

What are you up to in the new year?

Promoting NewcastleGateshead as a world-class place to live work, learn and visit. Helping secure new hotel developments and supporting cultural projects and our programme of festivals and events.

Sarah Nelson

Age: 39

Lives: Low Bleakhope, Powburn, Alnwick

Job: Glendale Show company secretary

Family: William, 10, Charles, seven, George, two.

How are you spending Christmas this year?

At home with my two sisters and their families – there will be 13 and a teddy bear in total.

What is the best Christmas you’ve ever had?

The first Christmas when we got married and were totally snowed in. We couldn’t get to my mother’s at Druridge Bay, so we spent all day trying to defrost a chicken for our Christmas lunch. We demolished a bottle of sherry in front of the fire.

Do you have any family Christmas traditions?

We always leave out Christmas cake, and a glass of sherry for Santa.

What is your ideal way to spend Christmas?

With my family, as we do every year.

What is the best thing about Christmas?

Having the time to spend together without work interruptions.

What are you hoping Santa will bring you this year?

A Nintendo DS with a brain game.

What are you up to in the new year?

Dinner with friends and walking on Budle Bay beach on New Year’s Day. Organising the 116th Glendale Show, held every August Bank Holiday Monday.

Lyn Spencer

Age: 56

Lives: Gosforth

Job: Managing partner, White Hot Communications

Family: Husband Paddy MacDee, 57, Daughter Joanne, 28, and husband Richard, 27, Son Ian, 24, and son Neil, 19, mum Jean, 79.

How are you spending Christmas this year?

At home with my husband, sons, mum and a close friend. Christmas will begin on the 22nd with a family get-together. We also have friends around on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, we will open the presents at midday, sip some champagne and then eat at around 3pm. In the early evening we’ll probably play a few silly games and, if I have my way, charades.

What is the best Christmas you’ve ever had?

Christmas when it was snowing, the children were small and believed in Santa Claus.

Do you have any family Christmas traditions?

I insist presents are opened one at a time and everyone has to pay attention and enjoy what other people are receiving. I know that used to irritate the kids – but I like prolonging the present-opening time!

What is your ideal way to spend Christmas?

What I’m hoping for is to avoid a repeat of last year’s early morning activity, which was being woken up at 1am on Christmas Day when my sons had been to the pub. They lost the front door key and thought it was hysterically funny to ring the front door bell a hundred times before I got downstairs.

What is the best thing about Christmas?

Spending time with and enjoying the company of friends and family.

What are you hoping Santa will bring you this year?

Whenever the kids ask me what presents I want for Christmas, I just say “bubble bath”. I’m really not bothered, but I do appreciate them and prefer surprises!

What are you up to in the new year?

I have never particularly celebrated New Year, much preferring the Christmas season. Once January has hit, it’s High School Musical: The Ice Tour in January and Chinese New Year in February.

Carol Bell

Age: 41

Lives: Heaton

Job: Head of programme development at NewcastleGateshead Initiative

Family: Partner Savitri, 40, Isaac, eight, and Noah, four.

How are you spending Christmas this year?

At home with the family

What is the best Christmas you’ve ever had?

I think when our eldest son Isaac was about four it was so exciting watching him put out the reindeer dust and his amazement when he saw the mess they left when Santa came!

Do you have any family Christmas traditions?

The boys and I always try to make Christmas puddings, with lots of nice things and a large amount of brandy. We give them to friends and family – one often finds its way to our family in India.

What is your ideal way to spend Christmas?

I am a bit of a traditionalist – always want to be at home with friends and family.

What is the best thing about Christmas?

Time off work, relaxing.

What are you hoping Santa will bring you this year?

A big surprise

What are you up to in the new year?

We will be going to the Glow Mobiles event starting at Saltwell Park on the afternoon, which leads up to the Civic Centre, ending with fireworks in the early evening. After that, to friends.

Barbara Gubbins

Age: Young at heart!

Lives: North Shields

Job: Chief executive of the Children’s Foundation

Family: Clark 28, Ewan 26

How are you spending Christmas this year?

With my son Clark and his partner Susan in Durham, Susan’s children and family and my dear mum – and it’s the first time I haven’t been in charge of Christmas dinner, so I’m looking forward to the rest.

What is the best Christmas you’ve ever had?

Last year when my youngest son Ewan was back from New Zealand – I hadn’t seen him for two years.

Do you have any family Christmas traditions?

Yes, although we usually have pork pie, pickles and Champagne for breakfast.

What is your ideal way to spend Christmas?

With the family, lots to eat, opening the presents individually one by one so they last longer and then a quiet night in watching the telly with a bottle of Champagne.

What is the best thing about Christmas?

Being together as a family, goodwill to all men and women, children enjoying themselves, listening to Christmas carols and other festive music and having some time off for a rest.

What are you hoping Santa will bring you this year?

A couple of good books and a few CDs that are on my wish list.

What are you up to in the new year?

Collecting at the Theatre Royal after the panto on New Year’s Eve for the Children’s Foundation and having a party for the neighbours at the end of the festive season.

Andy Hook

Age: 40 (though I sometimes still say ‘late thirties’!)

Lives: Gosforth

Job: Restaurateur, businessman

Family: My wife, Sam, 38, and daughter Molly, four.

How are you spending Christmas this year?

On the tiny unspoilt island of La Gomera in the Canary Islands with my family

What is the best Christmas you’ve ever had?

A few years ago when it actually snowed at Christmas and our whole extended family came up – we gorged ourselves on goose and all the trimmings before working it off sledging down the hills on the Town Moor.

Do you have any family Christmas traditions?

In my childhood we were always invited to my uncle and aunt’s for mulled wine, mince pies and carols around the piano (my dad’s a great pianist). These days it’s all about an ever-more-excited four-year-old.

What is your ideal way to spend Christmas?

As long as it’s with my darling wife and gorgeous daughter, I don’t really mind. But ideally I like to cook a big meal, invite some friends over and drink a good Burgundy.

What is the best thing about Christmas?

Some good food, a roaring fire and an old classic film snuggled up with Sam – what more could you ask for?

What are you hoping Santa will bring you this year?

I told Sam I have everything I need in life and she just laughed. A gadget perhaps. Everyone likes a gadget.

What are you up to in the new year?

Blackfriars hosts its annual NYE bash with a five-course gastronomic feast, Champagne, wine and fireworks. Now that’s how to start 2008 with a bang.

Beth Rowson

Age: 30

Lives: Heaton, Newcastle

Job: Independent curator and manager of the Great North Run Cultural Programme

Family: Partner Richard, parents Ann and Pete, brother Tom

How are you spending Christmas this year?

At my family home in Wales, although we are slightly reduced in number this year as my brother is in Australia, eating turkey and mince pies on St Kilda beach.

What is the best Christmas you’ve ever had?

I really enjoy every Christmas as I don’t get to spend that much time with all my family in the rest of the year. Going home to Wales at Christmas is a great way to catch up with old friends too. I remember Christmas when I was a child very fondly though, with a house bursting with family and lots of young cousins, which was always the best fun.

Do you have any family Christmas traditions?

Staying up very late on Christmas Eve, helping my mum wrap the last of the presents. I always wrapped all of my brother’s presents too, even the ones he gave to me – a bit cheeky of him really, but he seemed to get away with it.

What is your ideal way to spend Christmas?

Lounging around at home with family and old friends, lots of good food and drink, long walks and great films. If it snowed, it would be perfect.

What is the best thing about Christmas?

The chance to relax and spend time with people I care about. And copious amounts of presents, of course.

What are you hoping Santa will bring you this year?

An eight-day week. Failing that, a pair of moccasin boots from Plumo, L’Occitane Vanilla Perfume and a Dualit toaster.

What are you up to in the New Year?

We’re planning a trip to India to get some rest and recuperation before a very busy 2008. After working with Tyneside Cinema on their reopening and continuing work with the Great North Run Cultural Programme, including a project with Mark Wallinger, who has just won the Turner Prize.

Tim Lamb

Age: 46

Lives: Whitley Bay

Job: General manager, Eldon Square Shopping Centre in Newcastle

Family: Married to Philippa, son Jake, 13, and daughter Alice, 10

How are you spending Christmas this year?

At home with the kids, grandmas June and Margaret.

What is the best Christmas you’ve ever had?

When I was seven and got my first Scalextric, Vanwall and Cooper Formula 1 cars. My dad and I played together for months with it – well, once I got him and my uncle off it, anyway! Even better than that though is every Christmas since we had kids. It’s just great seeing their faces light up with excitement.

Do you have any family Christmas traditions?

A walk on the beach at some point in the afternoon and the Christmas pudding run along the sea front on boxing day (brrrrrr).

What is your ideal way to spend Christmas?

A barbie on Bondi Beach would be nice for a change, but wrapped up warm when it’s snowing outside and filling up to the brim with turkey dinner and watching cheesy re-runs is great too.

What is the best thing about Christmas?

Having kids, the excitement in the build-up is great and being fortunate enough to buy them nice presents is a good feeling.

What are you hoping Santa will bring you this year?

Some nice little gifts from the kids, maybe a Christmas sweater or two from the mums, but absolutely nothing from Philippa. We’re off to New York at the end of February and we are saving.

What are you up to in the New Year?

My big sis has flown off to New Zealand for three months, so we might well take the kids and some friends to her place in the countryside of County Durham for a couple of nights. One way or another though, I know I’ll have a big hangover on New Year’s day.

Rob Collins

Age: 30

Lives: Newcastle

Job: Director of dining promotions company The Gourmet Society and escape artist

Family: Mum Sharyn, dad Roy, Pat, 22, Liam, 29, Christian, 18, and Charlotte, eight.

How are you spending Christmas this year?

With my aunt and uncle and their family in Swarland in Northumberland. There will be 20 of us altogether.

What is the best Christmas you’ve ever had?

I’ve been on the beach in Australia for Christmas and Guyana (South America) as well as the Middle East, but in my opinion it doesn’t matter where you are as long as there’s family around.

Do you have any family Christmas traditions?

We have lots of games and each year we try to outdo each other with new games. We’ve even tried the Alaskan Indoor Olympics. My mother always writes a dreadful short whodunnit play which she insists we act in.

What is your ideal way to spend Christmas?

I don’t mind as long as I’m surrounded by my family as they are very important to me.

What is the best thing about Christmas?

I think being able to spend time with my family is probably the best thing.

What are you hoping Santa will bring you this year? Presents aren’t really important to me now I’m older – although the child in me still likes to receive them.

What are you up to in the New Year?

Lots more travelling, performing at festivals and street entertaining and always moving on in my life, never knowing what’s around the next corner, which is exciting.

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