Country Smallholding

A Christ­mas to enjoy

Kate fig­ures out what she does enjoy about the fes­tive sea­son (and it in­cludes a visit to a beach)

- Recreation · Lifestyle · Good News · Celebrations · Turkey · Gone with the Wind · Elizabeth II · Butch Cassidy · Harry Longabaugh

There is some­thing won­der­ful about get­ting to­gether with peo­ple you love for good food, fresh air, wine and laugh­ter

Reg­u­lar read­ers of this col­umn will know I am not a big fan of Christ­mas with all the trim­mings, and as the buildup starts ever ear­lier, I find my­self with tin­sel fatigue be­fore we’ve even got to Novem­ber. But de­spite my­self, I have re­alised that it is still pos­si­ble to get ex­cited about Christ­mas, when you have worked out what it is about Christ­mas you love and what is best avoided. I re­mem­ber one year when as a fam­ily we all fi­nally ad­mit­ted to one an­other that none of us really liked tur­key, or Christ­mas pud­ding, and had a much more de­li­cious, less stress­ful lunch of beef casse­role and mince pies. None of us wanted big presents, but loved Christ­mas stock­ings, so we agreed that is what we’d do ev­ery year. We have some fam­ily favourites that al­ways go in - the chocolate or­ange, the tub of twiglets, a wal­nut and a tan­ger­ine in the toe - and then there are the clever lit­tle finds that make Christ­mas stock­ings so much more fun to buy for and to open.

I am se­cretly de­lighted now when I get emails from friends ask­ing if they can come and join us for our rather dif­fer­ent take on Christ­mas, when we spend the day, what­ever the weather, walk­ing on the beach, eat­ing sausage sand­wiches hun­kered down in the dunes and head­ing home in the dark for sup­per of smoked salmon and a res­o­lutely unChrist­massy film. Last year it was Gone with the Wind. We haven’t de­cided on this year’s yet, but I might put in a strong bid for Butch Cas­sidy

and the Sun­dance Kid.

But even though I shy away from what seems to be the ac­cepted, tra­di­tional take on Christ­mas, I have now re­alised that the things I enjoy most about the time of year are prob­a­bly the same things that ev­ery­one else en­joys too. It isn’t the dec­o­ra­tions, the par­ties, the presents. It isn’t the Christ­mas edi­tion of Strictly, the Queen’s Speech or Wal­lace and Gromit (al­though I do love them!). It definitely isn’t the Christ­mas songs and the queues in the shops when all you’ve gone to get is a much-needed new pair of socks. But there is some­thing won­der­ful about get­ting to­gether with peo­ple you love for good food, fresh air, wine and laugh­ter, and it doesn’t need to be the 25th of De­cem­ber for that to hap­pen. We have some great friends in Wales who run a smok­ery. It is their smoked salmon we have at Christ­mas, and very de­li­cious it is too. The run-up to Christ­mas for them is, as you can imag­ine, one of their busiest and most stress­ful times of year, and on Christ­mas Day they are in a state of col­lapse. But they have started a tra­di­tion which we now look for­ward to far more than the day it­self - an al­ter­na­tive Christ­mas a few days later than the real one. We gather at their house on the edge of the Black Moun­tains at cof­fee time, with dogs and wellies; a group of reg­u­lars and some new faces. Af­ter a couple of mugs of rocket fuel, we head up the slope above the house for a heart-rac­ing stamp and then back down for a lunch of baked pota­toes, left­overs and a glo­ri­ous sickly col­lec­tion of Christ­mas con­fec­tionery - which has to in­clude what are known as ‘granny jel­lies’ - for pud­ding. It is a day that en­com­passes ev­ery­thing I re­alise I love about this time of year, so ir­ri­tat­ingly I’m go­ing to have to ad­mit I’m look­ing for­ward to it. Bah Happy Hum­bug ev­ery­one!

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK