On Christmas Eve I needed to turn my attention to the matter of a centrepiece for the table. I had to pop outside to pick a couple of bay leaves for the stockpot and noticed that our Honeysuckle was flowering, also daffodils, primroses, azalea, grape hyacinth, Auricula, Alstroemeria …………??? And our bee orchid leaf rosettes are much in evidence, although I think we will have rather fewer plants in 2015. There were a few hopeful roses and sure enough Helleborus niger was flowering well beneath its canopy of leaves. So I decided to make a small bowl of fresh flowers to include the roses, Christmas rose, Daphne and Sarcococca. But before I picked any blooms I took my iPad outside to take a few photos:
We return to Dorset with a busy and exciting schedule to meet. On Saturday I go into Dorset to round up a range of items: presents, requisites for our French Christmas feasting and shopping for assorted French friends including White Stuff goods for Anne. On Sunday I get to grips with wrapping up Christmas gifts for the forthcoming weekend and in the evening the Dukes come to supper. We enjoy a poached bass which was excavated from our French freezer. Thankfully it is still tender and tasty.
Early in the week I have a hair appointment, my Yoga lunch, lunch with my mother and sisters at the Sun Inn, followed by a bridge evening. I am relieved that my fellow players are still bidding on open hands and that some at least are still in the foothills, like me.
To Godalming on Thursday evening. I visit the amazing Mary Wondrausch for coffee on Friday, have lunch with my friend Vikky from Uni days at The Withies then Nick and I enjoy a dinner party chez Upcott to which mutual friends have been invited too.
We are Diana and William’s overnight guests and in the morning Nick and I drive to the Natural History Museum for a Conch. Soc. meeting. I give a 20-minute presentation on Otina ovata thus crossing the final frontier of activities which at my lowest ebb I felt incapable of fulfilling. There is a new dinosaur on the block at the Museum, the most complete Stegosaurus skeleton in the world.
Returning to Godalming early evening we are plunged into a weekend of feasting and jollification at the old homestead. This is to be our Christmas moment with the young who arrive in stages, culminating in a full house in the middle of the day on Sunday. The Perrymans cook us a fabulous meal on their all singing dancing BBQ, really an outdoor kitchen. Sadly, with journeys to make and school to prepare for on the morrow our loved ones must start to depart at the end of the afternoon. But we have had an amazing fun time.
Nick and I stay put and on Monday I go to Ted’s Carol Service before driving back to Winterborne K. On Tuesday we have our Book Group lunch at The Greyhound, later on fitting in an evening of bridge for me before I leave Dorset later in the week. On Wednesday I pop down to see Mum for a coffee moment, then back home where things must be assembled, the car packed ready for the following morning. We cross the Channel in a gale but these days I find that the size and stability of the large ferries and the confidence I have in my sea legs carry me through. Armed with The Independent Codeword, a good book and the comfort of a recliner in the quiet lounge, I allow myself to be rocked gently as we draw ever closer to the French coast.