Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed Christmas, wherever you are and however you celebrated, and had some time to relax. Ours was really quiet, one of our quietest ever, but that was no bad thing. After the very busy weeks leading up to Christmas I was quite happy to slow right down and think about nothing more than what food we were going to eat that day and where we were going to go for a walk. It was exactly what I needed. Of course we missed seeing family and friends, and I know that was especially hard for Bella and Angus, but the empty days were consciously filled with as many nice, relaxing things as possible.
Our Christmas Day was always going to be the four of us once we knew that John's parents would not be able to travel down and stay with us as they usually do, and so that felt quite cosy. We put the turkey in the oven, exchanged our presents, went for a walk late morning and then came back to open the fizz and start cooking the rest of the late lunch,
John did most of the cooking and I looked after key details like laying the table using my tried and tested selection of: and old white flat sheet, a gold spotty table runner I bought in the clearance section at Sainsburys, my Grandma's solid silver cutlery set and white linen napkins that I embroidered with Christmas motifs a few years ago, plus some candles and greenery snipped from the tree.
We had done most of the Christmas cooking before the day ( I had made the cake, yule log and other things and John had pre-prepared the turkey gravy) and so in the days following Christmas we lived off leftovers; ham with bubble and squeak, turkey, ham and leek pie, cold meats with pickles, not to mention all the cheese and crackers. I made a batch of gingerbread dough with the intention of baking some little house biscuits on Christmas Eve, but we ended up leaving the dough in the fridge for three or four days, and it was absolutely fine. It was actually nicer to bake and ice our gingerbread in an unhurried fashion. Every year I want to make a big gingerbread house but previous experience has told me how incredibly stressful I find this. It either won't glue together, or pieces crack, or my icing looks terrible....but making lots of individual house shaped biscuits satisfied my desire for some festive baking and fiddly icing, but without the pressure
We have had some glorious walks over the last week. Blustery, blow-away-the-cobwebs Boxing Day beach walks.....
...and the most beautiful, frosty, crunchy-underfoot walks.
We even had snow showers on one day. It didn't settle - it rarely snows much down here on the south coast, so close to the sea - but it was exciting, and I know that many other areas of the UK have had snow for some days. I'm jealous, I don't mind admitting that, but we did get to jump in some icy puddles.
Ziggy has had a marvelous Christmas; lots of turkey, lots of lying in front of the wood burning stove and lots of scampering and sniffing on long walks.
I've grown to really cherish the days between Christmas and New Year. Usually, I'd find this lack of routine quite unsettling but, after the busyness of Christmas, I relish the absence of structure. As well as all the eating and walking, we have been doing jigsaws, reading, playing with Christmas presents and watching films.
(A quick update on Angus's arm: it is healing well. He's had the provisional cast removed and a new one put on which comes off in four weeks, and no longer needs to wear the sling. Xbox playing can continue.)
I received some lovely, thoughtful gifts for Christmas. Best of all was a stack of new books, three of which are cookery books, and I've had a very nice time flicking through these.
These simple, stylish handmade mugs from Winter's Moon are both beautiful and useful, and John did good by supplying me with some much needed new slippers and pyjamas.
It's the first day back at work for me tomorrow, and Bella and Angus return to school on Tuesday. I don't know what this term will hold, the situation is so uncertain and rapidly changing, but I feel ready to make the transition back into a different routine and embrace January.