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Airport snaps as ex-pats return to Northern Ireland for Christmas

'Believe it or not, we're planning to have a barbecue tonight...'

Nicole Mears jumped for joy as she threw her arms around her dad, John Lovelock, in the arrivals lounge of the city Airport.

Husband Dan wasn't far behind with all the luggage.

The pair got off the flight from Cardiff but had come the whole way from Dubai to spend Christmas with Nicole's parents.

Poor John, who was delighted to have his daughter back, had already been to Belfast's other airport, the International, to pick up Nicole's sister.

"I'm starting to feel like a taxi driver," he joked, "but it's great to have the girls back and their husbands and boyfriends."

Believe it or not the family are planning to have a barbecue tonight.

"We normally have one in the snow and it doesn't bother us at all, but tonight it will be like a summer's evening.

"We'll be having what we call an MOD, meat overdose."

'It's so exciting to have all the kids together for Christmas'

The Lewis family were greeted by an enthusiastic welcome party at Belfast International Airport when they arrived from London yesterday morning. Paul and Andrea Lewis and their daughter, Amelia (8), and son, Sam (3), were met by Andrea's mum, Monica Gilmartin, and Andrea's sister, Lisa Tanderys, with her two children, Lilly (5) and Tristan (8).

Andrea said: "It's so exciting to have all the kids together for Christmas. They absolutely love it and we love seeing them happy.

"The kids were so excited to see their cousins and we don't get to see each other as often as we would like to.

"We love coming to Northern Ireland for Christmas, and Paul enjoys putting his feet up and not having to do anything.

"We're all just going to have a lovely family time."

The Lewis family will spend Christmas in Glenravel and enjoy a meal cooked by Andrea's parents.

'Phoebe didn't understand last Christmas but she'll know this time'

Charlotte and Stephen Jess flew into Belfast International to spend Christmas with their Northern Irish family with 15-month-old daughter Phoebe.

Charlotte told the Belfast Telegraph it would be "one for the scrap book" as Phoebe planted a big kiss on her grandad Sam's cheek.

Sam said: "Our little daughter, Phoebe, was too small to really know what was going on last Christmas, so we're really looking forward to enjoying this one with her. Mind you, she knows already that she is getting some Peppa Pig toys, puzzles and some nice books from Santa Claus, and she's excited about that."

'Leah has managed to make it to Northern Ireland at 11 months old'

Fiona and Andrew Nixon, who flew in from London with their daughter, Leah (3), and 11-month-old Isaac, are looking forward to their first Christmas in Northern Ireland for three years.

The family spent last year's festive period in England because Fiona was too heavily pregnant to fly.

Fiona said: "Andrew is from New Zealand, and by the time Leah was Isaac's age she had been halfway across the world, but Isaac has only managed to make it to Northern Ireland."

'We prefer to be here at Christmas because it's quieter than London'

Little Jessica Higginson "won't use her legs for the next few days" now that her Grandad has her up in his arms, a happy Kate Higginson said.

Kate is from Australia and lives in London with her husband, Paul, and kids, Jessica and Evie (6).

The two girls are really looking forward to spending the Christmas holidays with their grandparents, and little Evie confided in the Belfast Telegraph she wasn't worried about Santa Claus finding her away from home. "He knows where everyone is," she confidently explained.

The family come to Lisburn for Christmas most years, so Santa won't have any problem delivering Jessica's Doll and Evie's rubber-making factory.

They will be joined by their aunts, uncles and cousins on Christmas Day.

Kate said: "We prefer to be in Northern Ireland at Christmas because it's quieter than London."

'I love being looked after; I won't have to cook or tidy up, it's great'

Katie Whitely was met by her delighted dad, Michael, at Belfast City after getting off the plane from Manchester where she has been a student for two years.

After sharing a big hug and a kiss, Katie (19) said it was really great to be back on home turf.

"I love coming home and being looked after at Christmas time - I won't have to buy anything or cook or tidy up, it's great," she said.

"I have three sisters and a brother. They'll be back in Belfast for Christmas, other than one sister who is staying in Sunderland."

'I'm looking forward to getting back to Bangor and go for a nice lunch'

Cian Dornan, who was met at the City Airport by his mum, Cathy, and dad, Liam, said he was looking forward to the challenge of cooking Christmas dinner for his parents at their home.

Unlike most young people who get home and put their feet up, Cian is a trained chef and said he wanted to do something nice for his mum and dad.

He added: "I left home in September to go and work in Manchester, and this is the first time I've been home.

"I'm looking forward to getting back to Bangor and having a nice Christmas lunch with mum and dad."

interviews by erinn Kerr

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph