Two days the other side of Christmas and we feel perkier than we’d expected. So much so that we ‘phone Eileen to see if we can opt in for the New Year’s Eve dinner at Anthea’s after all. Of course that’s OK – Eileen says so and she can speak for Anthea 🙂
I make a Lemon Mousse and some Stem Ginger Macaroons as my contribution to the feast. Dick and Eileen, a master duo in the kitchen, are in charge of Canapes (haggis balls rolled in Japanese breadcrumbs, anchovy palmiers, mushroom and spinach on mini brioche slices, smoked salmon/cream cheese rolls) and Anthea is poaching a salmon which will be served with Dauphinoises and her panache of vegetables.
At some point in the proceedings whilst we nibble and chat, it transpires that Anthea’s Hollandaise has done the dirty, and separated. Dick is good at saving sauces, says Eileen, and sure enough the addition of a couple of additional egg yolks retrieves the texture. Me, I would just be delighted to serve my own Hollandaise separated or not 😉
We have such a fun evening, slipping through to watch the fireworks by the London Eye on the telly at midnight. These are spectacular, like some galactic event.
The next morning Nick gets up to help with the washing up, bless him and I drink tea in bed and read one of the books by Anthea’s bedside. This is All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West, I’m sufficiently engaged to order a 1p copy from Amazon later on. As I get dressed I glance out of the window and see Anthea, out for an early walk with Lily the Lurcher
Then we are off to Midhurst to see the Hunt gather. This is a new experience for Nick and me. Nick is uncomfortable about the whole thing so he disappears into the pub, followed by Dick and they sit by the fireside with a Guinness. The pub is The Spread Eagle Hotel, parts dating back to 1430. There will be a ‘Hunter’ 🙂 !! family event here later in the year – wonderful venue.
I am fascinated by the Meet and taken up with a sense of heritage and ritual which I think I had to experience first-hand. I may have formed opinions based on sentiment and prejudice and now I feel rather more ambivalently about hunting with hounds. And everyone looks fabulously smart – and I still love any excuse to do smart though opportunities seem to dwindle year by year.
After an interval of milling around whilst all riders gather and sip a small noggin provided by the pub, the quad bikes rev up and set off to lay the trail that the hounds will follow. Seconds later those hounds streak out of the pub grounds after them, and the riders fall in behind with the dearest little rider and pony bringing up the rear.
Cue for Eileen, Anthea’s mother Elizabeth, and I to join the men before the open fire. A drink or two later we are ready to head back for Dorset.
We have really enjoyed our New Year spell in West Sussex with great friends. As we roll along I feel a sense of anticipation and enthusiasm for these early days of 2011, when ideas and plans are laced with enthusiasm and possibility.