Late on Sunday evening the Perrymans arrived after a bumpy crossing between Portsmouth and Ouistreham. Cue for a platter of cheeses, biscuits, pickles and a glass of red wine. On Monday top of the list was the Christmas tree, saved for decoration by Ted. We also made recycled wrapping paper chains and looped them around our lovely charpente on the top floor. Then we looped our vintage strings of coloured fairy lights above the juke box and in Ted’s bedroom. On Tuesday we lunched at La Pernelle, with a table by the window we looked down onto Quettehou, St Vaast La Hougue and our patch of coastline. One moment sunny, the next cloaked in a mist and then we watched rainclouds shed their burden before the vista cleared to reveal the familiar landmarks.
We took Christmas Eve at a gentle pace, without the need for too much preparation for the ‘big meal’, we enjoyed a supper of scallops and black pudding, preceded by salt and pepper squid; my recently acquired skill with this method of cooking squid being put to good use. Ted went to bed at the appointed hour but took ages and ages to go to sleep, fearful that if he did not sleep La Pere Noel would pass him by. As if ……………..
Christmas morning arrived all too soon, especially for those men who had sat up till 3 a.m. in debate. Ted would not open his presents until all were present and correct so we curled up on sofas with hot drinks and watched him work his way down a pyramid of presents until he had arrived at the base……….. a Playmobil Pyramid!
I always enjoy Christmas breakfast, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon with good French bread and champagne. The Perrymans announced that their Christmas lunch might just be the best that they had ever eaten. Certainly I am won over my Nigella’s method of marinading a turkey before roasting it, and if there is oodles of bread sauce and not forgetting Goethe’s brussel sprouts, well you cannot go wrong. A leisurely and tranquil afternoon drifted into evening and once young Ted was in bed the adults were very content to choose their sofa slot and relax with a device or a good book.
On Boxing day we skipped cold cuts in favour of a pizza at Le Debarcadere. I chose my usual Choucroute de la Mer which was so dire that I will never order it again. When I first started choosing this dish it was a delicious mountain of sauerkraut with a smooth, thin white sauce, some pieces of white fish and salmon and dressed with prawns and mussels. Over the years the sauerkraut mountain has eroded and is no longer succulent, the fish and prawns are rather indifferent and the mussels have disappeared altogether. Tant pis!
The Perrymans departed on Saturday and we spent the evening chez Bri and Georgy celebrating his birthday. The evening after, we welcomed the Poulets for pool and cards on the top floor, a chance to enjoy the festive ambiance up there. The Hunters arrived on the 30th and we were all invited to Le Vast to celebrate New Year which will ever remain fondly remembered for the banquet we enjoyed and the Methuselah of 30-year old Bordeaux gifted by a friend of Alain and Martine’s. We rose from the table at 3 in the morning!
We did manage a wine tasting one evening, this is becoming a regular feature for English visitors. created Saturday departure. This gave rise to shopping excursions to buy supplies for the Hunter cellar. On New Year’s Day we dropped by the Tailles at the end of the afternoon to wish them well and enjoyed some glasses of bubbly and a Twelth Night galette. We then walked round to call on some English people whom Nick had met and had a drink with them too. On their last full day we at lunch at Le Debarcadere and I chose raie a la crème. After, Eileen and I walked round La Hougue then called in at a sale of Antiquites et Brocantes at the community hall in rue Marechal Foch. There I found a set of 12 individual oyster plates and a large platter for 80 Euros. Finding 12 plates a little de trop I offered to share the set with Eileen, which suggestion found favour with her.
The Hunters left us on the 3rd and we again found ourselves in the fortunate possession of an invitation to supper on guest departure day, this time chez Daniell. Lorraine cooked us delicious partridge, preceded by Stephen’s excellent home cold-smoked salmon.
We spent the remainder of our sojourn undressing our Christmas house and getting ready for a departure on the 8th. We enjoyed one last fling with the Poulets when we invited them for a Beef Vindaloo with a bit of pool and cards thrown in. This impromptu no frills supper thing suits us four very well and certainly lifts the pressure of expectation when you invite people for a meal. None of us wants to be up late, a sign of our times 😦