Friday 28 December 2012

First one at Feigh

On the 4th day of Christmas etc. Well, we came through our first Christmas at Feigh and survived it all, and we can both honestly say that it was an excellent time, thoroughly enjoyed by all present. What I promise NOT to do, though, is to go at great length; Christmas is a lovely personal time and nobody really wants to read about everybody else's, so here are one or two pictures and a quick riff through the days to give you a flavour.

If you've been reading this a while you'll know that this is our 2nd Christmas living in Ireland but as we'd not built this house yet and only had the caravan. last year we retreated to Silverwoods and enjoyed their hospitality instead. All previous Christmasses since we've been together, Liz and I have always been invited away for the day, either to Pud Lady's place in Hastings, or to the Silverwoods. Hence we were determined that now we finally have the place to do it, we would be host and hostess and return the favour to the Silverwoods. We had all 6 of them plus 2 dogs from Christmas Eve round to the 27th. The short story is that it went brilliantly.

In terms of food it was a triumph throughout, with Liz and Chef and me serving as Sous-chef and washing up assistant, with responsibility for a few meals and some bits of others. The Monday evening we did a mild, yogurt-y beef curry with a Madhur Jaffrey Okra dish and our own home made Naan bread. On the big day we had the big fry up breakfast and, of course the massive turkey feast with an enormous ham provided by the Silverwoods and Christmas pud to Pud Lady's recipe (with an amusing omission of which more later).

 "Boxing Day" (which in Ireland everyone calls "Stephen's Day") saw us on a left-overs lunch and a supper of half-leg of lamb (no questions where that came from please) and on the 27th I did a lunch called "Flaming Bastard Fish" which came out of the Indy Magazine in 2004 as part of their series of celebrity recipes; this one being from Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet and featured stuffing and soaking a whole salmon in a mix of soya sauce, ginger, hot  fresh chillies and spring onions.

Naturally with the 4 children involved, Santa was very much in evidence and managed to deliver a nifty stocking to each bed-foot and a huge sack to the base of the tree for each child. The kids woke at 05:00 but were confined upstairs and not allowed to wake the grown ups till 06:00 earliest. They invaded us at 06:00 and 1 second with their excited cries of "Santa's been!" We all descend the stairs and fix the grown ups with a cup of tea before Liz let everyone through to the Living Room and tree in a ceremonial door-opening. There follows the expected massive 'feeding frenzy' of wrapping paper flying and delighted cries of children as they mentally check list what they got with what they'd put in their Santa lists as well as buzzing with all the unlisted extra stuff. Liz tried to keep up with a dustbin liner in hand, gathering discarded packaging before it overwhelmed us.

With the Santa gifts opened, assembled and a bit played with, we adjourn through to a major fried breakfast, before returning to the tree to open presents from friends and relatives. That's when it starts to slow down a bit and goes a bit quieter with children playing with new stuff, trying to work out their new "android" smart-phones and Mr S trying to get M's new 'tablet' computer set up, some reading new books. Poor Mrs Silverwood, still recovering from flu and now from her 06:00 rude awakening falls asleep at every lull and eventually gives in, wraps herself in a new 'Snuggy' fleece blanked and takes a nap surrounded by pups.

The big turkey dinner is ready for about 17:30 with M, who loves to get involved in the kitchen, having got involved in helping put together a salad of baby leaves, pomegranate seeds, goats cheese, pine nuts, peppers-in-oil and a dressing.

The pud was a story in itself, assembled from an old family recipe recited over the phone by Pud Lady, mixed, stirred up on Stir Up Sunday and then boiled way back in November AFTER WHICH, we found the voice message on my old English mobile phone saying Pud Lady was very sorry but she had forgotten to tell us about the 6 ounces bread crumbs we needed in the pud. Liz quickly consulted cookery-expert internet chums who re-assured us that it would probably be OK, and so it proved. It didn't come out of the basin very well, but we repaired that split before flambée-ing it with Greek fire-water and everybody loved it and came back for seconds.

Stephens's Day was probably The Perfect Boxing Day - everyone on good form, relaxing, lots of playing with the new toys and games with the kids, gentle eating and a bit of drinking, a quiet dog-walk, a lovely chatty visit from our Small-Holdering Mentors Anne and Simon. Good company, good food and drink, lovely cosy house. It doesn't really get any better.

And then it was all over, the final morning, a 'fun' breakfast of quail's eggs on toast (eggs courtesy of Anne and Simon) followed by more play and some packing up ready to go, dividing up the left overs to give the S's a decent "doggy bag", a final lunch of that hot spicy fish, then piling everyone and all the mass of stuff back into the car. The Silverwoods have a big car, one of those 7-seat people-carrier jobs, but it was choc-a-block. Poor J-M, who came up all the way with the ham on her lap, had to go home again with what was left of the ham back on her lap.

Off they went back to Silverwood to get ready to receive Mr S's own parents over from the UK for a few days. We were left with that "and... relaxxxx" feeling you get when you get your house back and a goodly amount of clearing up, putting rooms back into 'between visits' mode, a little washing (only lunch really) and then some catching up on the computers. We work an "all computers off" rule for these occasions - it's what Mrs S does in her own house and it works well.

So. That was that. I hope I have not been too long-winded. Now back to that small holding, where it is, almost inevitably, raining again.

1 comment:

Anne Wilson said...

Thanks for a great St. Sevens afternoon, the turkey and ham were great and turkey is definitely back on our menu for next year. Lovely to meet your family and the lovely kids.