There was a time, in my dim and distant past when the vestiges of Christmas had to be hidden from the bin men. Far too many empty bottles of champagne, claret and Port and countless discarded boxes that once contained silk, cashmere and perfume. This year I received, much to my family’s amusement, and very much played with as one would a new pet – a robot vacuum cleaner, nicknamed ‘Dobby’ who scuttles hither and yon, before retiring to its staff quarters under the dresser in the kitchen.
To be honest, far from being irked at such an unglamorous gift, I was so poorly after Christmas that having an android to do the family’s dirty work was an absolute godsend (or whoever created it). It wasn’t even Covid that floored me, and I should know, having had four children. I’ve taken more lateral flow tests than I have pregnancy tests, and know all about the suspended breathing as one waits for those two lines to appear. Nope, the telltale negative, singular line remained resolute and this was some other, nasty festering virus that got my chest and compelled me to lie on the sofa for a few days as Dobby, Dutchy and Daphne, noisily demanded my attention.
Luckily, for Christmas Day itself, I was spared and was still hale and hearty and energised after all the pre-Christmas running around to provide and receive, a magical day. My children surrounded me, and, although they aren’t up at 6am anymore, they are still just as excited by it all, even though we had to shake up the tradition of decades past of stocking opening on our bed. Propriety had it that since we had a guest, who was perhaps as yet, not quite ready to see Hubby in his altogether, we gathered in the sitting room this year in front of a roaring fire. Champagne, a long lunch and present opening (including the ceremonial naming of Dobby) went on into the evening. My parents joined us too, which after last year’s Christmas lockdown of champagne in the garden (don’t get me started on the shenanigans of Boris Johnson and his cabinet) was absolutely wonderful.
I’m not surprised that I was felled by illness though. The run up to Christmas was crazy busy and everyone around me was getting ill so it was probably inevitable that I would and, whilst it doesn’t feel like work, I was nevertheless working all hours just up until Christmas Eve. The pop up shop was fun and I loved meeting some of you for our festive candle making – the feedback was that it was very therapeutic and calming, particularly, concentrating your attentions on an unfamiliar task but, one that smelt so lovely! We also delivered hundreds of Christmas candles for one of our bespoke clients and, we were also absolutely thrilled to deliver some very special candles that we made for Alain Roux and his wife Laura at their three starred Michelin restaurant, https://www.waterside-inn.co.uk/ in Bray, Maidenhead.
And here we are in January. Dry January and Veganuary – the month really has nothing to recommend it.
“How about dry Gin, or dry white wine?” I asked the Husband.
He was having none of it and has been desperately working his magic as a virgin mixologist. His alcohol free Mojitos, are in fact, delicious, but everything is improved with a few bubbles thrown in for good measure, so roll on February.
To try and perk up the general, all over malaise that January brings, we have, when not abstaining and eating more greens (Nigel Slater’s Greenfeast is fab) , been walking the south west coastal path and making the most of the some winter sunshine. We were in Dorset yesterday, eating fish and chips and blowing away the cobwebs and in Devizes today, cheering on our rugby playing son – although I confess that I cannot watch if there is any sign of a tackle or the outside chance that he may be even, ever-so-slightly injured.
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very healthy and happy new year. Let us hope that 2022 brings an end to covid, LFTs, isolation, lockdown, PCR tests, travel bans and all the other awful new words that the pandemic has furnished our vocabulary with.
Love, Cathy x