My sister, Deborah, has come all the way from London to spend a week with me. A curious week as, apart from Christmas Eve, I have to return to the clinic for the night, observing a 9pm curfew.
On Christmas Eve we went to Hans and Margaret for drinks. What a feast! Margaret presented a spread of nibbles like nobody else can do. The two greedy sisters did it justice.
We then departed with Poppy, who has been living there since October, and to be quite honest, has a better life there- doted on by Margaret and Hans (who is guilty of discreet passing down of snacks), living in the centre of a village with a non stop parade of people, dogs and cats. And above all invaded by a plague of huge, fat but fast, rabbits, who have eaten everybody’s flowers and can be found – Poppy thinks – under every parked car. I felt guilty tearing Poppy away from this paradise, but at least at 2am on Christmas morning she had a great time leaping outside to bark ferociously and bravely at the sangliers (wild boar) which even I could hear moving around in the dark outside.
I had invited my friend Dessa to Christmas lunch and rashly planned a meal centred round a pintade (guinea fowl) cooked in calvados, cider and apples (Margaret’s recipe). What rash stupidity by a non- cook. The first step was to cut the pintade into four – something I had never done before. Even after some frantic googling and watching a couple of YouTube demonstrations, I (or rather, we, as Deb joined in) made a right hash of this. The cooking was further complicated by FaceTime sessions with the family just as I was browning and flambéing the pintade. But amazingly (helped by Deb quickly making a stock of the discarded bits and thus creating a delicious sauce) the meal was not elegant but delicious.
After Christmas pudding and, in my case, a disgustingly large helping of brandy butter, there was not much more we were capable of doing with the day!
We had another FaceTime session with the two families at the end of their Christmas lunch (cooked as usual by the star chef, Ed), but if success can be measured in noise levels, it was hard to make oneself heard. I did get one nugget of important information: Otto had managed to eat two Brussels sprouts.
Willow had already sent me a letter in November . Now Ella sent me a Christmas card (her own design) and a lovely message inside, Maddie sent one (also her own creation) to Deb, and Otto sent a letter – no prompting from grownups . I love his attempt at my address at the bottom.
Then, after being beaten once at Scrabble (in the penultimate move) and resoundingly twice at Boggle, it was time for me to meet the 9pm curfew. The is no holiday here on the day after Christmas. Back to work. In 20 minutes I will be warming up with a pulley (poulie in Frenchj in the physiotherapy room.