The meal was a beautifully flavoursome, slow roasted shoulder of one of our own lambs (Dora the Explorer) served with sprouts and chestnuts, leeks and parmesan cheese with me doing roast parsnips and spuds, It was followed by some excellent home-made trifle (no 'sponge-fingers' and raspberry jelly for us - we went with some left over Dorset Apple Cake chunks and a purée of blackberries). The lamb had been smeared with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and anchovies for 24 hours and was then roasted at 130 degrees for 4 hours, then rested under its foil and a tea towel for an hour. Gently does it. We were delighted to realise that most of the main ingredients were our own produce - the lamb, veg, garlic, herbs, blackberries and all the tastier for that.
We always 'First Foot' our houses; in fact we are probably slightly eccentric in the way we treat the house with as much respect as if it was an important relative; a living thing. When we were building we used to talk to the house, as if to check that relighting fires in the hearths after all those years was 'OK' with the house and might even cheer it up to feel warm again. At the end of each week of work, as we left for Silverwoods, we'd wish it goodbye and assure it that we weren't abandoning it, only leaving for a few days. Call us scatty if you like; it's just the way we roll. Anyway, First Footing to us is now part of New Year. The first person across the front threshold must be as close to 'tall dark and handsome' as you can get (No comment!) and must come armed with a coin to represent money, bread for 'food' whisky for 'drink', coal for 'warmth' and salt for 'savour'. You must open the back door to let the old year out before you open the front door to greet the First Footer who represents the new one. Here, I fulfill the role, so I nip out the back as the countdown starts, with all the goodies on a plate, leaving the door ajar (but not ajar enough to let the dogs out) and sprint round to the front and wait for Liz's beckoning which signifies that the midnight hour is rung round. The coal goes on the fire, the bread and salt gets nibbled upon, the money is just the money and you can probably guess the fate of the dram of Black Bush! And so to bed.