On the first day of Christmas, my dear Jerry gave to me……some truly wonderful presents to kit me out for the countryside in 2013: the most delicious cashmere welly socks complete with tiny silver welly, an AMAZING box set of River Cottage handbooks and a very uncamouflaged green and white spotty bag from Cath Kidston! Dear Reader, I can assure that I was most certainly one of the nine ladies dancing! Presents done and dusted by 7:30am! That’s what I call efficient or rather very impatient! We even managed to make the wonderful nativity service where Primrose stood angelic as one of the angels by a real baby ‘Jesus’ whilst Poppy screamed for most of the service and could only be silenced by a packet of rice cakes. Crib service completed, we trudged off on our Christmas travels with our two little ‘angels’ who had been awake since 4:47am, desperate to see what St Nicholas had left under the tree. Even industrial amounts of coffee could not keep me awake on Christmas morning and there was rain of biblical proportions sloshing down as we left the Big Smoke, ruining my straightened hair and making me question whether or not the Mayans might have been on to something!Journey finally at an end, we turned our attentions to the business of Christmas lunch. Day one of the Twelve Days of Christmas and not a partridge in sight. However, I did try my first ‘turducken’. Yes that’s right, a ‘turducken’ (turkey, duck and chicken), also known as a three bird roast. A modern take on an olden day feasting dish when one served a bird in a bird in a bird (you get the idea) all neatly packaged up inside a swan, feathers, beak et al. I can see where jeggings might have evolved from. They must be the modern day equivalent of hose! Thank goodness we only had 2 days of feasting to get through rather than the full Twelve Days of Christmas. I am not sure I could have managed the swan roast or the 12 pies for a lucky 12 months that nursery rhyme Jack Horner is alleged to have consumed!
Boxing Day arrived with its post Christmas lunch slump and mad sale spendathons. Traditionally the feast of St Stephen (the patron saint of horses), farmers and horse owners alike used to take their horses to their country parishes to be blessed. It is also well known as the biggest day in the hunting calendar. The Boxing Day hunt – a time honoured country Christmas tradition which is so rarely cheered in villages these days. Dear Minty took her little babe to his inaugural Boxing Day hunt to watch riders and hounds depart from a sleepy village in Gloucestershire for the frost-covered fences and hedges of the surrounding countryside. If Minty’s husband has anything to do with it, that dear little boy will be riding, hunting, shooting and fishing before he even takes his first steps. I applaude that sentiment entirely! No local hunts around our parts so I made do with a little dress with horse and hound pattern! Embarking on the second day of our gluttonous feasting, I started to feel like the Vicar of Dibley in the episode where she is invited to all the villagers’ Christmas lunches. I wasn’t sure how much more I could fit in and wished I had saved a pair of maternity jeans! Following a considerably over indulgent lunch, I fell into a dream of turtledoves and dovecotes on my country estate and was woken somewhere around 2am by the ‘twit twoo’ of a pair of owls . I say owls…..it could merely have been the whistling of darling Jerry’s drunken snoring. Difficult to tell….
Well dear Reader, day three of Margot’s Twelve Days of Christmas and all was looking rosy as we finally returned to the familiar surroundings of our dear little cottage. Presents unpacked, fire lit and pyjamas on, I was delighted to be back. I will admit to be being a very poor house guest. I like to be in my own home. Tragic as that sounds. I also felt a little twinge of loyalty to the cottage as after all, this will be the last Christmas spent in its tiny embrace. Three French hens were not on offer….you can see I was not fully prepared for the full twelve days at all…BUT Primrose and I did make a rather charming bereted French snowman (if I do say so myself) for the top of my Christmas cake this year. Rustique.
As for the rest of the Twelve Days of Christmas, not really sure how I am going to manage four colly birds (apparently these are blackbirds, who would have thought?), five gold rings (oh God nothing Olympic related I promise), six geese-a-laying (might have to make do with chickens for this one and book myself on a hen-keeping course), seven swans-a-swimming (could a few trips to The Swan pub count?), eight maids-a-milking (dairy farm, perhaps?). Still it all looks promising for a good old New Year/early Twelfth Night shindig. A little visit to see Tom and Barbara in the offing and no doubt, I shall definitely see at least one of the ten lords a leaping on New Year’s Eve (can’t wait to see Tom strutting his stuff with his energetic version of Britney’s Toxic) and might even manage to do some piping for the eleven pipers piping. As for the drummers, dearest Poppy got a drum from Father Christmas so when New Year’s Day comes and inevitably, Jerry and I have sore heads, it will feel like twelve drummers drumming. Might have to hide that one…… Here’s to 2013 and Margot FINALLY making it to the countryside. Happy New Year to you, Dear Reader!