Did I have a good Christmas...well sort of. Bill and I arrived down at my parents at about 10pm on Christmas Eve, so that Bill could be there next morning to start cooking the turkey. My younger sister Shirley was already there, and she and Mum were having a jolly time getting the Xmas stockings ready (actually Mum's long socks, hopefully clean). The bungalow was stiflingly hot and stinking of fag smoke, but relatively clean. There was only a little Xmas tree, but it had a lot of very familiar decorations on it, and lots of cards around. So it looked like Xmas Day might be OK-ish.
Next morning Shirl, Bill and I got up and decided not to wait for the Aged P's before opening some presents. True to form, I breakfasted on beer, mixed nuts and liqueur chocolates. But as soon as Mum arrived she started weeping and saying she didn't feel well. I urged her to go back to bed but my father wouldn't hear of that, he just told her to sit down and take it easy.
In a little while it started raining - then snowing! Magical! Being a southerner, I couldn't remember the last time it had snowed on Christmas Day. It didn't settle - but it had tried!
I got some nice presents including white Maltesers and stress-squeezy car from Bill, book about cats and book tokens from Shirl, Mum and Dad, and beer from Val and Matt.
My sister had provided turkey breast, Bill and I the vegetables. Shirl and I prepared spuds, runner beans and Brussel sprouts whilst Bill cooked - and the result was delicious! But Mum was looking anxious all the way through. We tried plonking some presents on her lap but she started weeping and saying she'd spoilt everything, even though she hadn't moved from her chair except to go to the loo. I was tempted to tell her not be so stupid, Shirl decided to hug her and be sympathetic, Dad told Shirl not to encourage Mum to moan. I wondered if she was just doing it to get attention...hard to say which approach was the best. Mum seemed all right when distracted by the telly, so we ended up watching 4 films - Harry Potter, Nicholas Nickleby, Shrek, and another one!
We stayed overnight again, then went out the next morning walking, to test Bill's new hiking pole (a prezzie from me). It had snowed and settled a little overnight, but the tracks were very muddy under the ice. I decided we'd go back via the road, but that was very icy - so the pole came in handy a few times! Shirl left, although she was due to stay another 2 days, saying a friend had a birthday party. Bill and I were also quite glad to get away.
Next we drove to the Kingcombe Centre where our friends Pam and Chris were staying. Pam and Chris had guessed we would have a stressful Christmas so they'd made a special effort to make sure we would have a relaxing time at Kingcombe, which was very kind of them.
They cooked us a veggie bolognaise with garlic bread starter, very nice too. We provided Malbec wine from Argentina. Then afterwards, chatting in front of the real fire and supping Laphroaig whisky (one of Bill's prezzies) - sooo relaxing! The room at Kingcombe was really nice as well, lovely comfy beds and a hot shower, primroses in a little vase thoughtfully provided by Pam.
This morning Chris and Pam provided wholemeal toast and homemade jam for breakfast, and we watched the robins, nuthatches and bluetits feeding outside the conservatory window. Whilst Bill went to fetch his Dad George and girlfriend Eileen (both are in their 80s), the rest of us went for a walk around the meadows. They were very beautiful but probably even more so in the Spring when all the wild flowers are out. I could see why Pam and Chris always rave about the place! So much nicer than London, where they live.
George and Eileen got the tour of the Kingcombe Centre and were introduced to the pigs, Henrietta, Baldrick and Peggy (correct me if I've got the names wrong!). The pigs were snuggled into their straw, and only 2 were awake to give sleepy grunts. It is certainly a very impressive place. See http://www.kingcombe-centre.demon.co.uk/
For lunch the 6 of us went to the 'Fox and Hounds' in Cattistock - traditional pub grub in huge portions. Bill and I found the (Palmers) beer fine but the rest weren't impressed with their Vin de Pays Chardonnay. Back to Maiden Newton, Nigel and Graham were also there so we wished them a Happy New Year before heading back home. Peace and quiet at last? No chance! Bill is downstairs practising his recorder!!