Well, that is Christmas over for another year. Christmas round here has been bedevilled by the coughing bug, which is everywhere. Luckily, so far, I have escaped it - although every evening I feel as though I am going down with it and then I dose myself up at bedtime and feel fine the next morning, so I think I must be fighting it off. Our next jolly evening is New Year's Eve, when there should be eight of us enjoying my buffet supper, but it will depend on how well, or otherwise, everyone is I suspect.
We had a lovely party on Boxing Day, as we do every year, with only one friend missing because she was not well. I am hoping she will be recovered enough to be here for New Year (get well J).
Turkey is definitely off the menu for the foreseeable future. The remains are sliced up and in the freezer - you can have too much of a good thing. Somehow the same does not apply to ham - it was delicious and there is enough left to put on the table on New Year's Eve. If you are simmering a ham, do try simmering it in equal quantities of cranberry juice and apple juice - the result is tremendous and the flesh is the most gorgeous deep pink colour. A honey and mustard glaze and twenty minutes in a hot oven with the flesh covered with foil just finishes it off nicely.
The farmer has done the bare minimum over the period - after all he is recovering from the bug and still coughing (and snoring!) enough to be banished to the spare bedroom. (he looks so comfy in there that I fear he may wish to stay, whereas I am missing him terribly in my bed at night (he is always warm, whereas I am always cold) without somewhere (or rather someone) to warm my feet. He has to feed cattle, sheep and hens, farm dog and the garden birds. That done he checks logs and kindling for the stove and then is inside. As he had two super large jigsaw puzzles for presents in his stocking he is engrossed in doing the first of these.
My favourite present was Hilary Mantel's 'Bring up the Bodies' - the follow-on to 'Wolf Hall' and the winner of this year's Booker Prize. My goodness, what a brilliant writer she is - you are transported back to the sixteenth century by the time you have read a paragraph.
My other favourite occupation over the holiday has been the Guardian's Christmas Crossword (cryptic) compiled by Araucaria . It is always difficult and wonderful to pick up at odd moments. A friend in the village also does it so we are able to confer if any clues really stump us. I have only two left to do - any ideas anyone? 22 Down - One with the skill to break the ice -e-h-e and 42 down Jug fully given to prejudice -o-i-s.
Two very strange things have happened with regard to the crossword (which I must admit has been done at many odd moments over the Christmas perios). First of all a clue which I did not understand at all and which had 3,1,3 letters. Shortly after reading the clue I picked up my Mantel book and within a minute had read the word/phrase cap-a-pie, which was the answer. There was another long clue I couldn't answer, and which was actually quite easy once I solved it (!) and I suddenly woke up in the middle of the night and thought 'Twickenham' - now how weird is that? I suppose it is a perfect example of fortune favouring the prepared mind.
If you are planning to celebrate New Year, then have a lovely time - and keep safe.
Another wet day here, water lying in the fields, chill damp air. But are we disheartened? No - nothing to do but the jig saw and a good book to read (and the delicious remains of a pavlova I made for pud at lunchtime) - what more could anyone wish for?
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