Wednesday, December 23, 2009

23rd of Advent

What with travelling to see friends and relatives, preparing food in advance and decorating the house, it's been a lovely, hectic few weeks. The last thing I expected was to feel sad at the little lull that's happened early this week: C being back at work, our usual pals having gone away for Christmas and nothing really much to do. It was twice the good news, then, when I got an unexpected call from an old friend, who is currently staying (as she described it) 'halfway to where you are compared to when I'm in London'. That's still five hours drive in some nasty weather, but she insisted that she wanted to take advantage of the fact and come and see us. Now that's friendship- all that travelling for an overnight stop!
It was tempting, with the sun shining, to try and go up to the Lakes. However, I've learned now that a few miles and a bit of altitude makes a lot of difference, especially in winter weather, so we stuck close to home and went back to Conishead Priory. The woods were magical in the frost-crusted snow, made more so by the decorated pine tree near the beach. It was covered in messages from whichever elves bring baubles and tinsel into the woods- presumably those who work at the Priory.
The shingle beach was transformed by its snowy blanket and the bay as still as I have ever seen it. Even with the wide selection of joyful dogs we met and a fascinated toddler it was icy tranquility. We rounded it off with lunch at the ever-wonderful Gillam's Tea Room before our intrepid explorer set off on her homeward journey.

Monday, December 21, 2009

21st of Advent

Christmas- or at least the Christmas fruit and veg box- came earlier than expected today.Brussels sprouts on their stalks, chunky carrots and parsnips, fresh thyme and rosemary, organic oranges and lemons and much more. Not to mention some Creamy Lancashire and Cheddar cheese. Howbarrow Organic has done us proud. This being the first time I am not just cooking but also hosting at home for Christmas last night I wrote a plan, with timings, for the big day. Not including the list of things to get out of the freezer and other preparations on Christmas Eve there are nineteen separate instructions. NINETEEN! And somewhere amongst this I need to open presents and be of good cheer. Actually I'm really looking forward to it and now that I've got it all worked out I'm pretty confident it will all go fine, just as long as I don't chop any more fingers between now and Christmas day...