Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Holiday

Well, that was interesting. Traditionally family Christmases have increasingly verged on the nightmarish but this year the five days spent in the Westcountry were perhaps the most relaxing I’ve had in a long while. Even the journey down there wasn’t too hectic, which made a change.

It helped that we weren’t spending Christmas Day at my sister’s. For a start she certainly looked much more relaxed, not having to be lumbered with the cooking, when she popped over in the morning. After swapping presents sis and I took their dog for a walk, sneaking a fag as we trekked along the old railway line, while my dad chatted with his son-in-law and my mother entertained her grandson.

Maybe it’s because of the lengthy intervals between visits, but every time there has usually been comments about my hair being far too short or too long, or me looking fat or even too thin (although that only tended to be during my student days). Not long after I was through the door my stomach was prodded and I was asked, “What’s this?” The strange thing was, after that one comment they kept pressing seconds upon me when we sat at the table.

It’s easy to forget how damn good home cooking is. The turkey, roast potatoes and parsnips, stuffing, vegetables and gravy were done to perfection, as were the hams and the feather-light dumplings that topped stews. By the time I left we still hadn’t even gone close to the Christmas cake or even the pudding. Why go for such traditional stodge when there was a more flavoursome selection of fruit crumbles made with combinations of raspberries, blackberries and gooseberries from the garden.

We worked off the meals by taking long walks along the promenade, bundled up against the cold easterly wind that sent the roiling waves crashing against the pebble beach. When relatives dropped by over the next couple of days we either strolled along the riverbanks, stopping at the platforms and hides to watch the bird activity in the estuary, or visiting the local churchyards to stop at the graves of aunts and grandparents that still leave holes in our lives after all these years.

On Sunday the Lovely Actress stopped by, spending a couple of hours chatting with my folks before we ducked out to a nearby pub that I’m not sure I had ever visited before. It had a wonderful flagstone floor, soft leather couches and low tables, and a very friendly black Labrador retriever that drank from a bowl by the Christmas tree before trotting around to see how everybody was. Until late into the evening the Lovely Actress and I settled down and caught up.

With all this activity, sitting down in front of the television and watching the usual seasonal crap the channels see fit to dole out was kept to an absolute minimum. We did make a point of watching Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death and The Man Who Made Eric & Ernie, the far too short tribute to the late Bill Cotton, the BBC former Head of Light Entertainment, which only illustrated how bad some aspects of television had become, especially at this time of year.

Now that I’m back in London there’s a few things to catch up with on iPlayer. First though, it might me an idea to get the heating fixed while I look forward to next year.


At 11:32 pm, Blogger potdoll said...

that dinner description has left me drooling.

so glad you had a lovely christmas. Happy New Year. email you soon.


At 11:59 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...


and I haven't even mentioned the mince pies that had the lightest pasty ever. Or the ginger cake with flecks of stem ginger, a great slab of which accidentally found its way into my case home.

In fact I'm going to have a slice of that now!

At 6:35 am, Blogger potdoll said...

oooh save me some!

At 10:43 am, Blogger Ian said...

Your Christmas sounds wonderful!

Did you catch Brian Sibley's programme on Bill Cotton on Radio 2 last night? (Part 1 was last night, part 2 tonight at 7pm I believe). I thought it was MUCH better than the TV show which, despite having many of the same talking heads, was an unstructured and uneven mess of a programme.

Other Christmas Day hightlight, TV wise, for me was Stanley Baxter Show. Was amazed that it featured Baxter doing a mickey-take of this year's Queen's speech - Lord knows how they managed to get a mock-up of her dress put together so quickly!


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