Saturday, 31 December 2011

Christmas week 2011

Well, I do hope that everyone has had as lovely a Christmas time as me.  It might actually be my most favorite Christmas time that I can remember. The Wig and I decided that we would try to have a low key one this year since who knows what we'll be up too next chrimbo once our new little friend has arrived.

The week before Christmas however, was very hectic. From Tuesday until Thursday I had lunch and dinner dates each day. Not only did that mean a lot of food but it was probably a bit ambitious to have made so many plans over a short space of time. But since becoming a hermit I feel like I haven't seen anyone for ages and wanted to be sociable. I'm pleased to say though that I did manage to avoid falling asleep through any of the meals. The most fun lunch was with an old Director I used to work with and haven't seen for 10 years. He is a bit of a comedy legend really and one of the nicest chaps you could ever hope to meet. His credits include The Smell of Reeves + Mortimer, The Fast Show, Mr Bean, Victoria Wood, Harry Enfield, Dead Ringers, Mrs Merton, French + Saunders, The Thin Blue Line, he also has 2 Bafta nominations and is Jane Birkin's cousin! Amazing. But probably the most impressive of all is that he worked with Kenny Everett!! This is probably my most favorite comedy clip of all time.

My boss and I met him for lunch and too him to Greigs in Mayfair (not to be confused with Greg's the Bakers), which I would heartily recommend if ever you are in the market for good old traditional English food in a wood paneled room.  Its probably best not to google reviews of this place as most that I found are not very complimentary. However, my Prawn Cocktail and Cottage Pie were delicious.

Once we had finally broken up for work on the Thursday, it was time to get real Christmasified! This began with us collecting our meat order from Meat N16, the nice posh Butchers in Stoke Newington.

The Wig had put the order in two weeks previously as he did not want to be without a turkey on Christmas day. Or 15 chipolatas, 15 pieces of bacon, a ham, Goose fat and a huge ball of mincemeat for stuffing. For 2 people. Unfortunately, the butchers were not quite as organised as The Wig as when we tried to pick up the order, they couldn't find it. Gulp. Eventually, after 10 sweaty minutes of worrying what we would eat without the turkey and various other meat products, (we only seem to ever have marmalade and Piccalilli in our fridge these days) they found our food. And threw in the chipolatas for free for the inconvenience! Result!

Christmas Day Food.

That evening, we ventured up the road to the new Sherlock Holmes film at our new Cinema, The Hackney Picture House. This place seems to have popped up overnight and I'm so glad it has. It is built in the old Ocean Venue (I saw Ash there about 85 years ago, Do you remember the girl from Mars? . . ) which takes us 10 minutes to walk there from home, and not only has 3 screens but also has a bar a restaurant and reclining seats! If you live locally a membership card is a great idea as you get 3 free tickets when you join, around £2 off the price of each ticket thereafter (taking the price to £8 per ticket), 10% of all purchases made inside the Picture House and discounts at Strada, GBK and loads of other places. All for £35! A Bargain in my opinion. I'd pay that to sit on the reclining seats alone. They were the comfiest cinema seats my gluteus massive has ever experienced. Incidentally, the film was ok, not as good as the previous one, the first hour dragged a bit but after that it was very good. I would give it  a respectable 7 pipes out of a possible 10.

Christmas Eve was all about cooking. And watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. When I was younger my dad often made a delicious Sugar Glazed Baked Ham at christmas so for the past few years I have resurrected this tradition by making my own. Its super easy once I had worked out the ham only needed 2.5 hours on the hob not 9 hours that I had at first thought, it's also extremely delicious and will keep for a few days in a cold fridge so is great if anyone pops round for some hog.

1. First of all you have to soak the ham over night, changing its water every coupe of hours to get rid of the salt. I thought this would be good practice for changing a baby's nappy every couple of hours.
Then you boil it in clean water, bay leaves, onion and peppercorns for half an hour per 40g (I think, best to check on line for exact times).

2. After its been boiled, pour the water and onions etc away, peel off the skin while trying not to burn your fingers off ( I don't like this bit), discard the skin (from the ham not the fingers), score the fat in a  diamond pattern and cover in English Mustard and Demerara Sugar. Finally stick a clove in the corner of each diamond (we didn't do this this year since cloves aren't very good for pregnant people apparently) and bake in the oven for 45 minutes and the sugar has gone hard. Either eat it warm or let it cool and eat it for breakfast lunch and dinner for the next 4 days. Delicious.

I also finally got around to making the ruddy Christmas Cake! Yay. This was just as easy as the ham but not quite as tasty with a slab of Cornish Cruncher and half a jar of Piccalilli. I basically opened the bag of Mary Berry ingredients (now £2 at your nearest Tesco) and followed the instructions. 

Christmas Day itself was wonderful. I was very lucky and Wiggy Claus had been extremely generous with his gifts this year despite an understanding that we would not go too mad. I am too embarrassed to list all of the presents I received but they were all very thoughtful, even the Alan Partridge book.

Tree presents.

And the Christmas Hare Stocking. Naughty Wig.

After the presents were opened, we got down to real business. Eating. We had scrambled eggs for breakfast, Wig also had smoked salmon, but I wasn't allowed. Then we spent 4 hours cooking the Christmas lunch which included home made cranberry sauce and home made bread sauce. It seemed like a lot of food for 2 people, and I cant make any excuses, it was a lot of food for 2 people, but after next May we'll be too tired to eat so I'm making the most of it for now.

I thought as a treat, that I would have a glass of wine with lunch, but guess what. I couldn't drink it! 4 sips was all I could stomach then I chucked the rest away. I think this means my alcoholism is cured. Praise be.

On Boxing Day, we ventured outside of the flat and visited my younger brother and his family in Colchester, Essex. As you can see from this photo, Betty the Banana baby has really grown (she was 1 on Christmas Eve) and seems utterly perplexed by her big sister.

The day after Boxing Day we made our way back to London via Auntie Margaret's and had lunch there with my cousin and his family. They gave me some beautiful flowers, just for being up the duff! Amazing. I should get up the duff more often. Or maybe not.

Thanks Mark, Laraine, Jake, Liam and Aaron xx

And then things went slightly down hill. The Wig got a cold. We think he may have picked it up from a little person, naming no names (Betty Banana), so we have done little since then. We have mostly spent the last few days, watching box sets (Mildred Pierce, brilliant, Alan Partridge, still quite funny) and eating vegetables. Not the most thrilling of Christmas holidays but I think we may have peaked to soon at the start of the week.

We did venture out briefly on Friday as I had to return a watch Wiggy Claus had bought me (too big, the watch not Wiggy Claus) in Marylebone so popped into La Fromagerie for a Broccoli and Gruyere soup. I think I've mentioned this place before but it really is worth a visit if you are in the area. Its a restaurant which specialises in cheese dishes and also sells cheese and every type of cheese utensil you could possible need ie cheese boards, cheese knives and more cheese boards, it has the lot.

Then on the way home I did a very bad thing. I popped into a shop called Folk, which my friend Justine told me about a few weeks ago. Its a rather pricey clothes shop on Lambs Conduit Street in Holborn that I would never normally go into, but they had a sale on. And I bought the boots that I had been dreaming about since I first saw them. I justified buying them as my last selfish purchase before the great belt tightening excercise of 2012, literally and financially. The only problem is, they are the most expensive boot I have ever purchased (despite being in the Sale) and I'm now too scared to wear them outside in case they get dirty. Maybe I'll just use them as slippers.

So that was Christmas. I hope you all had a good one too, roll on 2012, xxx

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