Although we were initially dreading spending Christmas on our own, I have to say it turned out to be a very enjoyable day. Unfortunately, it was just tinged with sadness because late in the afternoon, our old ginger tomcat, Charlie, passed away. He was 15 years old and had become quite frail in recent months. Visitors this year will recall that this had not diminished his appetite as he was always trying to steal food!
But back to our food! For the last two Christmases we had gone to a restaurant for our Christmas dinner but none of the ones we know were doing it this year so we knew we were going to be "home alone" for the very first time since moving to France. I had decided to splash out on some good quality fillet steaks and thought I would make us a really nice dinner. I mean what was the point of doing a huge Christmas dinner just for the two of us? But Danny had other ideas and said he would prefer a traditional turkey roast dinner.
I don't think I've ever mentioned on here that from time to time I get shopping from a UK supermarket. It's handy to keep Danny in good supply of the Maynard wine gums and Bombay Bad Boy pot noodles, to which he's rather partial! It also means I don't have to rely on visitors bringing me English teabags - although I am always pleased when they do! The way this works is that you order what you want online; the shopping is delivered to a UK depot from where it is transported to France and you pick it up from certain local pick-up places. Various companies do this over here but we use one called Blightyshop. Because I hadn't planned to do a traditional dinner, I hadn't ordered a turkey but I did order a gammon joint and a tiny Christmas pudding (a treat for me!).
I bought a free range small turkey in our local supermarket (and was pleasantly surprised to find it tasted wonderful!) and set about creating traditional Christmas fare for us. To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed putting together all the food. I think that with the sort of food we have at this time of year, it doesn't matter if you're cooking for two or twenty; it's the same food, cooked the same way but just different quantities.
On Christmas Eve I cooked our gammon joint, made stuffing balls, prepared our "pigs in blankets" and made a batch of Yorkshire puddings. This is what I have done on Christmas Eves for many years! I also made a pot full of mulled wine (of which I proceeded to drink all, over the next few days!) and prepared our starter for Christmas day, which was to be deep-fried breaded Camembert portions. And I thoroughly enjoyed doing it all! Here is what it all looked like...
On Christmas morning, not only did Danny and I exchange presents, we also had presents for the dogs. Danny buys dog treats which are home-made by a lady in the UK and he had bought a Christmas stocking full of such treats for each of the three dogs. Here he is giving them their presents! Naturally, he didn't let them have the whole lot!
We then had a rather large full English breakfast and were too full to eat until much later in the day. Still, it gave me a chance to start reading the book Danny had given me and for him to start playing the computer game I'd bought him! But eventually, I laid the table and I think it looked quite festive...
...add the food and it was soon ready for Danny to get carving!
Later, with the benefit of Skype, we were able to talk to Danny's son Paul and to see our granddaughters playing with their presents. Of course Danny talked to his other sons too.
And before we knew it, Christmas Day was over! But the food wasn't! And the next day found me back in the kitchen. This time making bubble & squeak with the leftover roast potatoes and vegetables, picking turkey off its carcase and making stock (to be frozen and used at some point when I make soups). For lunch, we finally broke into the gammon joint, eating some with the bubble & squeak and poached eggs - yummy!
As I said, I bought a little Christmas pudding for myself but I also bought us what we Brits call a Yule Log cake but which is called Buche de Noël in France. I stopped making them myself some years ago but I have to say, if Danny wants one in future, I think I will make one again - to be honest, this looked nicer than it tasted!!
So that was Christmas! We may or may not go to the UK for Christmas next year because having now experienced being "home alone" it really wasn't that bad at all!
Yesterday we were invited to English friends of a French friend of ours! They live in a village called Largeasse, which is only about 10 minutes drive away, in a lovely house by a lake. We were invited for "amuses-gueules". This is an expression I've not come across before but it means "appetizers". There were a mix of French and English people there so it was an opportunity for us both to practise and to listen!
And now, we are just a couple of days away from a brand new year. For New Year's Eve we are going to a party at friends, which will be a nice change as it's some years since we went out on New Year's Eve!
The start of a new year usually tempts us to make resolutions, few of which are kept in my experience! However, for myself, there is something I plan to do. When we lived in the UK, I belonged to a Virgin Active Health Club and went there probably three times a week. Since moving here practically three years ago, I have done no exercise whatsoever and not surprisingly I am now heavier, flabbier and a lot less fit! Co-incidentally, having decided that I would resolve to do something about that in 2015, I have just found out about a Charity Challenge that I plan to sign up for. Full details are not yet available but I will keep you posted and I hope that you will get behind me in this.
And finally......I would like to thank you all for reading this blog and to wish you all.....
A Very Happy and Healthy New Year.