And we have a houseful of peeps at The Old Workshop. Claire and the Gang of Four arrive a couple of days before Christmas Eve which puts everyone in good spirits. Joel the Little Green Chef is an absolute gem in the kitchen and he makes a fantastic Yule Log using his Hairy Bikers’ Cookbook.
He also puts me in the shade when we go to collect the turkey from the Puddletown butchers. I have already ordered a Bronze one, which is what he told me would be best. Then I am floored when he says that the turkey should have been dry-plucked and hung. ?!!! Well I’m not going to ask the man! Being someone who can easily be intimidated by shop assistants. But not as bad as I was. Joel asks the question, and yes it turns out both requirements had been fulfilled.
Barns and Lukie, as well as Carl, arrive on Christmas Eve and Claire cooks a wonderful gammon with comfort vegetables such as red cabbage, mashed swede and the last of my homegrown celeriac mash. The children take ages to go to bed and even more ages to go to sleep. This does mean that they do not wake up at the crack of dawn which is a plus.
On Christmas morning the children wake and find one present at the foot of their beds. They open this on the waterbed with Claire and Carl then there are various hoops to jump through before we can all sit down to open the presents beneath the tree.
Joel is an absolute star in the matter of cooking Christmas lunch. He helps me stuff the turkey, rub it with butter (which gives rise to a hilarious video sequence as Joel really gets down to this task) and tends to its needs during the roasting. When I serve the meal there is only one minor glitsch as far as I am concerned and that is that the potatoes could have been a bit softer and crisper too.
After lunch we all settle to enjoy our Christmas presents, whether it be watching a video, playing a game, reading a book or getting a plastic sausage dog to poop real gunk complete with sound effects. Chacun a son truque. For myself I start to look at a book about Pigs, gifted by Lis, and fall into a shallow and short siesta. With the main event in the bag the rest of Christmas Day passes gently but I am delighted to have a game of cards – Barbu – with the two older boys in the evening.
On Boxing Day Dan, Charlotte and their families arrive around lunch-time. Claire and Carl, as well as Lukie must leave for other commitments. Around 3ish Christina comes bringing Cerys and my mother. This is very special as Mum’s well-being is of concern and I had been hoping very much that she would be able to spend a couple of hours with us and all her Light family members. Although she remembers few by name these days. Still it’s very convivial, she opens a few packages and has a plate of salad before Chrissie takes her back to her home. As she is about to leave I suddenly think to organise a photo of her with her great grandchildren which turns out to be a lovely shot.
The following day there is an excursion to Portland for a bit of climbing and in the evening Maddy and Andrew come over to have supper with us all and we sit at the table taking it in turns to read Angloe-Saxon riddle songs from a book I have given the Dukes. Fun. All our young have to be on their way the day after but I do a walk with Barns and the four focused around Old Harry and Ballard Down, a windy and rather cold trek and I feel for Charlie who has not put on as many layers as he might have done. The pub where we park is very busy when we arrive back there after our walk, with tables only available outside. So we have a quick drink and Barns drives away with the last of my Christmas guests and I do feel rather sad as I drive back to The Old Workshop. I should have liked to have something to eat with the gang before they started their journey home and especially as Nick and I will now have to start dismantling our lovely tree and put away the decorations before we cross the Channel to join our friends at Le Vast for New Year’s Eve.