Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A boozy Sunday lunch

We had some absolutely glorious weather last week. We woke up on Wednesday to find the temperature was about minus 4d, the sky was clear as clear and full of stars and it was icy, icy cold. The fish pond was frozen over. The bird bowl was frozen over. Marlo was curled up in the ironing basket and looked as though he was never going to move again.

As we left for work, just after 7, the sky was a beautiful blue and the few clouds were the colour that organic, un-dyed salmon is. The fields and trees were covered in frost and, with the sun glinting on them, looked exactly like a Christmas card. It really was very beautiful.

And that sort of weather continued on all week, though the fishpond and bird bath did thaw out. Marlo, however, did not move very far from the ironing basket.

It was all rather unfortunate, then, that we woke up on Sunday morning, bright and early, to find a howling gale, persistent rain and low, low clouds. For Sunday was the day we were to be meeting Bea and Steve outside the twisty spire in Chesterfield and go for an amble around the Christmas Sunday Market before repairing to The Sidings for roast chicken with roast chicken trimmings. Hopeful (but not entirely optimistic) that the weather might improve, I proceeded with the morning’s plans. I prepared the Magnificent Chook (which I had bought at either the York or Salisbury food festival) with stuffing, prepared the veg, removed the (allotment grown) potatoes from the freezer and carried on. But after an hour or so it became perfectly clear that the weather was not going to lift and that, unless the need were dire, it was not market friendly weather. I can think of few circumstances when the need for a Christmas market could be described as dire, so I contacted Bea and suggested we abandon the market plan and just eat.

So that’s what we did. Off the magnificent, beautiful, gorgeous new table, now adorned with oak-stained beech chairs. The chicken was fabulous, the potatoes and beetroot roasted up a treat. We had peas and broad beans and cabbage and carrots and broccoli and shallots all from the garden or allotment (but mostly via the freezer). Then we had a steamed cinnamon and apple pudding with River Cottage vanilla yoghurt(think expensive and custardy) and we drank lots of white wine and we set the world to rights.

I do like Sunday afternoons!!! Marlo, however, was not best pleased at all – when we moved him off the ironing basket and took it upstairs to the spare room!

It is, however, fortunate that I had had the foresight to take Monday off – and to persuade The Builder to take it off as well. Experience suggests that when we have Sunday lunch parties, I always trundle into Monday thinking I should have my lunch parties on a Saturday, thus allowing recovery and clearing up time. But you just can’t have a Sunday lunch party on a Saturday. It doesn’t work. So, taking Monday off is an excellent solution. I am enormously glad I didn’t have to wake up at 5:30 and get up at 6 yesterday morning. I am very, very pleased that I had the morning to tackle the washing up, in a gentle and measured manner. I am gratified that I had the opportunity to take the (whispers very quietly) 9 empty wine bottles out to the recycling box after the neighbours were up and away. Plus, it was nice to have lunch in The Rutland with The Builder and to potter about and to amble in to visit Freyja and Mark in the early evening. And I made stock with the chicken carcass and ordered some seafood for Christmas and played with the cat and mooched. Very nice.

The restaurants and cafes near Freyja are all closed on Monday evenings. We had to go to London Road where we found a Greek place which didn’t really have any veggie options, so moved on to an Italian place which wasn’t really all that exciting, but which did. Then The Builder and I and Mark all went home to our respective beds, and Freyja took a bus to North Carolina. Well, she took a bus to Gatwick, where she caught a plane this morning to North Carolina.

The Builder has bought the table some presents. First there are the 6 chairs to sit around it. Then he has bought 8 slate place mats and coasters to adorn it. And, he has bought a pine dresser to sit behind it. But let this be a serious lesson to us. It is A Very Bad Idea to try and put an £80.00 maximum bid on a dresser on eBay after 9 bottles of wine have been consumed by 4 people in the space of an afternoon/evening. It is Very Easy Indeed to misplace the . – which is significant when you are placing maximum bids on eBay!! Fortunately, we bought it for £100, so all was well. We’re picking it up tomorrow.

We had a spot of snow on Sunday evening! Then the weather warmed up, the snow turned to rain and washed the snow away.

The Builder's father has come home from the hospital. He seems to have done quite well for his little holiday. Breathing, eating and blood sugar levels are all hunky dory.

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