Christmas 2015 flew by in a blast of last-minute dashes to the shops, family festivities and storms that lashed our house near the sea. Four days on, our family guests have departed, my son’s resumed his cycling regime and my husband’s working 16 hours a day on his latest business venture. As for me, I’ve been mulling over the standout memories from this year’s Christmas. In no particular order, here are some of them:
Feeling sad for the communities that have been ravaged by floods. The pictures of York, with its historic streets waist-high in water, are truly shocking. The King’s Arms, a favourite haunt of mine when I was a York student, has always been known as “the pub that floods,” but this was on another scale entirely. While the rest of us were enjoying Christmas, people across the north of England were coping with a deluge. In the city of York alone 250 people were evacuated from their homes and military personnel, mountain rescue teams and volunteers valiantly battled to rescue flood victims and distribute sandbags.
Playing Trivial Pursuit. On Christmas night my nephew suggested a quiz so my son dusted off a 1980s version of the famous game and persuaded all of us to join in. Within minutes young and old were immersed in the game. We were so transfixed that we played five games in three days. Along the way I learned that dragonflies eat mosquitos, that San Salvador is the capital of El Salvador and that Catherine the Great died while she was sitting on the loo. Is that really true?
Cooking sprouts. After years of serving up mushy sprouts or rock hard bullets I finally won the sprouts battle. Anna Jones saved the day with her recipe for sprouts with sticky dates and sherry vinegar. They were simple to make, pretty to look at and tasted delicious.
Loving my new diary. My daughter knows how fussy I am about diaries (they have to be hard-backed, display a week across two pages, have plenty of room for notes and look gorgeous). She scoured London and bought me a gorgeous kikki.K 2016 diary. The only problem is that it’s so stylish I’m reluctant to mess it up by writing in it.
Walking at Studland beach. There’s nothing like a stroll along the seashore to lift the spirits. We went to Studland several times and the sight of crowds of walkers, scores of bouncy Labradors and waves that my son reckoned were “almost surfable” banished the post Christmas lull. As we turned and headed home one day we even saw a naturist emerging from the sea. Needless to say, he looked jolly cold.
Receiving a surprise present from my goddaughter. My son’s godmother Wendy once sat him down and explained that being a godmother wasn’t just about her sending him presents. “It’s a two-way thing,” she said. Even so, I was inordinately touched last year when my teenage goddaughter Maddie sent me a present and a chatty card out of the blue. This year she did the same again, along with a letter about her gymnastics successes and what she’s up to at school.
Listening to Benjamin Clementine. The very best thing about Christmas was being lucky enough to spend it with my family. But I drove them all crazy by playing Mercury Prize winner Benjamin Clementine’s album At Least for Now at full blast for hours on end. I love his music and I love the way he dedicated his award to Paris (where he lived for six years) and all those affected by the terror attacks in November.
Ditching the turkey on Christmas night. Every year I agonise over what size of turkey to order from M&S. Why? Because I want it to be big enough to feed everyone for Christmas lunch (eight this year), with enough left over to make turkey sandwiches in the evening. After that, forget boiling the bones to make soup or doing clever things with curry for Boxing Day. I never want to see the damn thing ever again.