Category Archives: domestic life

The Week Before Christmas

Oh, it’s been all go here this past week. I spent a fun day Christmas shopping in Brighton last weekend. The weather was mild, the sun shone and Christmas cheer was on offer.

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Then, of course, there’s the present wrapping…

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…and the decking the halls…

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Followed by the trifle-making, of course (Nigella’s recipe).

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Waiting for the custard to cool…

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…to be assembled on Boxing Day for a lunchtime buffet. Oh yes, of course, I’ll post that too.

 

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Boxing Day in Sussex

After days of rain, the sun came out and the sky over southern England was blue. A fresh breeze rippled through the woods and fields, and we felt the call to head out into the rolling hills of the Sussex countryside for lunch at the Jolly Sportsman Pub http://www.thejollysportsman.com/ in East Chiltington. We headed down country lanes, through fields turned golden with the midday sunshine, past the red telephone box at the end of the lane (seemingly in the middle of nowhere), and turned into the drive of the pub, parking up next to the horse pasture. It’s innocuous, hidden behind a Sussex hedge… the kind of place you wouldn’t know was there, unless you knew it was there. No sign. No fanfare. A gem of a place. We couldn’t have chosen a better place to spend Boxing Day lunch.

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We settled down in the sun-filled conservatory and chose from a menu full of very tempting things…

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…and I chose the game and goose terrine with pear chutney…

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…followed by roast guinea fowl.

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…accompanied by fresh and apply La Croix Gratoit Picpoul de Pinet wine and great companionship in Tootsie, Wineguy and Hankenstein.

After lunch we headed out to the Devil’s Dyke in the South Downs for a walk in the waning afternoon sun. We had views from Brighton and the English Channel on one side to Surrey on the other.

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Kite flyers and walkers were out enjoying the fresh winter and walking off their Christmas dinners.

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The sun began its descent, streaking the sky with fingers of pink and gold…

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…and we headed back, stopping into the Devil’s Dyke Pub for a cup of steaming hot chocolate before heading home.

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Christmas

It was  a day of food, family and fun. It was a little after 6:00am when Hankenstein discovered Santa had, indeed, managed to slip down the chimney, set the presents under the tree…

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… fill the stockings and eat the gingerbread man, drink the whisky and read the note H had left for him. Rudoph’s carrot and glass of milk were gone too. Before H went to bed we checked where Santa was on the Norad Santa Tracker — he was heading over Gibraltar and had hit the 4 billion presents delivered marked. No wonder he and Rudolph were hungry when they reached Sussex!

The presents were opened (yes, there were some for me!)…

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…the stockings emptied and breakfast eaten. Then Wineguy headed into the kitchen to prepare Christmas lunch (he’s a keeper!). The rain had finally let up, so Tootsie, Hankenstein and I headed to the local park for a walk (and so H could play of course).

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When we got back, the table was set (Santa must have left some elves behind!)…

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…and Christmas lunch was ready! There were chicken livers with balsamic vinegar (delish)…

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…then roast prime rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding and lots of veg…

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…followed up by home-made lemon and raspberry trifle.

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Then there was “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Ice Age 3” and “Arthur Christmas” and putting together Lego, and playing Mousetrap and Battleship, with some cheese and crackers, and a visit from Magman, and Whist and wine and port and…

…and wonderful Christmas was had by all! Now the sun is out and we’re off to a country pub for Boxing Day lunch and a walk on the Sussex Downs.

Deck the Halls

I’m at my sister Tootsie’s for Christmas. I arrived yesterday afternoon, blown in the door by a 80mph gale.

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The tree lights twinkled…

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…Bing Crosby was crooning carols, Christmas card garlands hung from doors…

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…and home-knitted stockings hung by the fire (with care).

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I recognised some old family decorations…

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…and ones collected by Tootsie over the years.

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Somethings tasty sat in the centre of the dining table…

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…and there was some evidence that Canadians were in the house.

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Gingerbread Men (and Friends)

My nephew Hankenstein and I were tasked to make gingerbread men. I Googled a recipe (thank you Tate & Lyle http://www.lylesgoldensyrup.com/kitchen.php?recipe=35 , and assembled all the ingredients (to bake one must organise).

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I pre-heated the oven (to bake one needs a hot oven), and we mixed all the ingredients together (well, Hankenstein poured and I mixed). Then I threw flour all over the countertop (much to H’s delight) and we proceeded to roll out the gingery dough. I got out the gingerbread man cookie cutter, but H felt some dinosaurs would add a unique touch. Then the other cookie cutters began, as if by magic, to appear — bells, Santas, stars, snowmen, holly… because, as H said, “The gingerbread men would be lonely without friends”.

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H cut them all out and I spread them out onto the baking trays…

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…and then we watched them turn golden brown in the oven.

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A production line ensued, with the spicy, sugary smell of freshly baked gingerbread cookies filling the kitchen.

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Then, it was the fun bit (or, really, the next phase of fun) — icing them! Well, to ice means for Auntie to decorate while H squirted icing into his mouth.

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Then it was time to taste them. Because to bake gingerbread men (and their friends) means to eat them, fresh out of the oven.

Birthday!

I was promised cake. Chocolate (of course). There were candles, not, admittedly, matching my years on this planet, but that would have needed a much bigger cake.

Hankenstein insisted on being the photographer while I sucked in my breath to blow out the candles.

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Happy Birthday to me!