The peonies are almost out, it must be Christmas

Like many families, we were split up at Christmas and Ishbel missed out on the traditional Christmas dinner and her usual Boxing Day birthday celebrations (indeed she worked an extra shift at the hospital). We posted down a stocking, a mini cake and a few odds and ends but promised when she was able to travel over the border again a second “full fig” Christmas and birthday would be delivered. The butcher promised to keep a turkey in the freezer for us and I squirrelled away the presents that had been a bit bulky for the post. And so it has come to pass that on the last hot day of last week I spent a sweaty couple of hours wrapping Christmas and birthday presents with the sole remaining roll of sellotape (which I had sagely hidden away) and today I got up early and began making stuffing and pigs in blankets.

We had the traditional ham and pork pie lunchtime breakfast (which Lyra strongly approves of) and then Ishbel delivered her presents for us. The jumbo scarves were a winner and are entirely suitable for today’s ambient temperature. Lyra also appreciated the squeaky Brussels sprout and the mysterious fluffy gherkin/reindeer. After presents I pootled back to the kitchen to wrestle the turkey into the oven and devise a starter from the contents of the larder. (We usually have lentil soup and an amuse bouche of ham hock terrine from the stock bone but I thought lentil soup would be a bit unseasonal for May – Ishbel has since pointed out the weather is, in fact, entirely suitable but it is too late now). I have therefore set aside a large bunch of asparagus to char and a made a striped tomato terrine which is on flash freeze for a quick set.

Pudding wise, Keith has found a vintage Christmas pudding, made in 2016, which is going on to steam as we speak and we shall just take our lives in our hands. Ishbel has volunteered to taking a crate of empties to the bottle bank (can’t think where they came from) and will be picking up custard and a newspaper on the return leg so we can bemoan the election results – another year of Tory shame.). When she offered I actually found myself wondering if the shop would be open at Christmas…

It is all strangely tranquil and orderly when compared with the usual yuletide melée. Lachlan and Lyra wandered off post gift exchange to watch a bit of TV. Ishbel performed a small fashion show so we could whittle down the runners and riders in the graduation dress handicap to a winner. (We settled on the white flowery one but the two tea dresses from Sea Salt performed so well they were added to the birthday bundle. ) Keith is making bread sauce and then has a strategy meeting with Anne and Raymond as they are temporarily handing over the baton of giving OpenReach the hard time it so richly deserves and ammunition must be amassed and readied. He has announced that on no account will he have a gin. Time will tell……

When I last looked at the turkey is was sporting a crispy bacon weave and a good tan. There’s only the veg and gravy to go. At this rate of organisation I shall actually be washed and changed ( though I’m definitely keeping the woolly scarf on) by canapé o’clock…………….

(By way of postscript, the terrine turned out splendidly and I am washed and changed and awaiting Keith’s canapés and a drink )

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