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T’is the season…

December 31, 2014

…to be exhausted.  Have a cold.  Eat too much.  Drink too much.  Watch too much telly.  Sit in bed and think about going for a walk in the lovely crisp, wintery sunshine and not do it.  Look at Facebook so long you actually know other people’s Christmases as well as your own.

On the orders of my husband I am in bed today.  Anyone who knows Russell knows he doesn’t actually issue orders, and even less likely am I to follow them if he did.  However, I am in bed as he suggested I should be today, because it’s a damn good idea and not one I generally ever have the opportunity to follow.  I am closed to the world, not in, not ‘at home’ to anyone.  It’s very, very nice.

WARNING this post is about my Christmas so if that might bore you close this page now.

Christmas.

If I had access to cinematic equipment I would do a montage, a la a Richard Curtis film – driving through the night on Christmas Eve to the large country pile in deepest Essex, the warm welcoming lights, the laughter and hugging and delicious fish pie, last minute wrapping of presents, a small exodus to midnight mass… cut to Christmas morning, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even… oh, wait, there’s Harper and his drone, oh, no… wait, it’s stuck up a tree.  And so begins the battle of the kids vs grown ups (why can’t I open it, please can I open it, I am opening it, yes, I am…) in the present war, and of presents vs kids (no batteries, wrong batteries, faulty mechanisms and stuck up trees tactics were in abundance).

The country pile is Beeleigh Falls, home to Ron, Jasper’s Dad, the lovely Sue (who clearly has the secret of everlasting youth) and Megan, a tiny, scruffy little dog that had been abandoned and ended up at their door one dark and stormy night – there is no luckier dog in the entire universe.

Beeleigh Falls, front porch

Beeleigh Falls, front porch

if ever a house was made for Christmas...

if ever a house was made for Christmas…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is a stunning old Edwardian (I think) house, with enormous, welcoming rooms and front door big enough to drive through; the front door key is so big it could easily be used as a cosh for an unsuspecting burglar. It is near Maldon, where the salt comes from, in Essex, a very pretty part of the world, where land meets sea via estuary.  Ron’s business is in Mini Mokes, specifically their spare parts.  Our dining room was usually his parts store and had been cleared out and transformed into a country house dining room, complete with help yourself breakfast kit at one end.

Moke graveyard

Moke graveyard

The rest of the party was made up of Rowena (Sue’s daughter), George (Rowena’s husband and giver of the famous Bulgarian firewater), their two boys Roman and Ollie, Jasper (Ron’s son) and Sophie (my niece), their two children Harper and May, Stormy (Jasper’s and my son), Russell (who takes everything in his generous stride, always) and me.  An unusual mix some might say, and that is without adding other historical details because of no time/room/right to share.  It works for us.  I looked around the gathering at one point and saw a family, happy and at ease with itself, for all the issues and difficulties of the past, present and future, we know, like and love one another and on that basis metaphorical mountains can and will be moved.

The clan 1

The clan 1

The clan 2

The clan 2

I was chief cook, delegating chopping, dicing and slicing to number one (and mine only) son, peeling to George and clearing of debris to Rowena, and so I didn’t have to deal with the war zone apart from ushering it out of the kitchen every now and then.  My main job was to stand about looking worried, writing lists which were promptly binned by the keen bean Rowena and poke the fowl with a meat thermometer every now and then.

Beeleigh Falls Christmas Menu 2014Before the feasting began we had presents in the sitting room (cut to montage of roaring log fire, champagne in slender glass flutes, enormous packages tied up with ribbons and glittery stuff, paper being ripped and thrown in a mild, joyous frenzy).  Russell spoiled me completely and I am still in awe of his thoughtfulness and extravagance.  It was the kind of insane fun its meant to be and the children were kept occupied for at least ten minutes with trying to locate where the batteries were meant to go.

The table was laid by beautifully by Sophie and Sue, with pretty candles, ivy and silver stars.  Dinner was a triumph of luck over judgement and no one minded that the birds were a bit overdone.  Fireworks replaced pudding as no one had any room for any.

Beautiful Christmas table

Beautiful Christmas table

Boxing day pyrotechnics

Boxing day pyrotechnics

Boxing day was all about pyrotechnics, pipe bombs and cannons, abandoning broken drones, figuring out how the robot dog actually works, a walk down memory lane for me to my old alma mater, more glorious food, finally eating Christmas pudding with the most delicious brandy butter ever made and saying goodbye to our Christmas family as we headed off into the rainy night to the Brighton family, colds and sniffles, cosy fire, more delicious food, wine, films, walks and talks.

Maddy & Bibi in their Christmas pyjamas

Maddy & Bibi in their Christmas pyjamas

Christmas cosiness

Christmas cosiness

Emma having cobwebs removed from head

Emma having cobwebs removed from head

the sun being dramatic

the sun being dramatic

Seven Sisters

Seven Sisters

And so here we are, Wednesday, 31st December 2014, back in Bristol.  May your New Years Eve be joyful and fun, but more importantly the New Year one of health, peace, hope, and love. Oh, and prosperity, wouldn’t mind a bit of that too please.

Over and out.

 

 

 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sophie Walters permalink
    January 3, 2015 1:25 pm

    The word envy springs to mind !! How lovely it all looked. And you managed to squeeze in New Hall too! I, on the other hand, went to the In Laws!! Oh Joy! As everyone opened their carefully chosen gifts my mind wandered back the previous 2 Christmasses. My mother in law came at me, bearing a box from Jaeger saying – It’s the largest in the shop and it wont fit!!! Charming ! so I asked whether I should indeed continue to unwrap it if it was the case. The following year, 6 miniature marmalades were pressed into my hand. !! So this year as I saw my sister in laws unwrapping lovely bags bought in La Bella Donna, my hopes were raised, slightly…….could this be the year? Over she came bearing a small box…… oh yes diamonds I thought!! How wrong I was…… Sophie, these were my mother in laws and I never liked them!!!!Jade earings! I think I would be disappointed if she changed tack next year! Anyway back at work now coping with SALES!! uuuuurrrrrgggghhhh! Big hugs Lizzie. Happy 2015 xxxx

  2. January 5, 2015 8:08 am

    Love that Soph! She is a rare treat your in-law I must say – keep expectations low and hope for more recycled stuff next year, makes a great story! xx

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