CHRISTMAS - a time to share with family and loved ones.

That is not always possible, of course, and one of those missing a loved one this year is Ellie Gorley, 23, from Maryport.

Ellie works as a carer during the winter months but will be off to Turkey again this spring, running a Kids' Club for the holiday firm Tui.

It was in Turkey that she met Oguzcan  'Ozzy' Aktas, 24, who is an entertainer at the same hotel.

Separated for the winter, the couple use social media, Tiktok and sheared videos to keep their long distance relationship alive - and this is something Ellie would recommend to anyone in a long-distancerelationship.

This will be their first Christmas together - or not together, as it happens.

And, while she is feeling a touch of sadness at this oh-so sentimental time, she knows that Ozzy will have no such feeling.

"I love Christmas but Ozzy is Muslim and doesn't celebrate it," she said. "I still bought him a Christmas present but I'm not expecting anything in return!"

Ellie said she is used to big family Christmasses where everyone gets together.

"Leaving aside the fact that Muslims don't celebrate Christmas, it is not a big thing in Turkey in general. 

"I think no matter where I am living in the future, I would always have to come home for Christmas."

Ironically, the traditional story of St Nicholas, who, with the help of the Coca Cola company, morphed into Santa Claus, actually began in Turkey.

St Nicholas was an early Christian in the days of the Roman Empire. He worked as a bishop in Turkey and began doling out secret gifts.

It is said that he poured gold coins through the window of a poor family, providing the three daughters with dowries and saving them from a life on the streets...