It was my birthday yesterday – always an enjoyably special day for me because it usually means family coming together and the true start of my Christmas preparations.
This birthday was a bit different though, as my luncheon club was due to meet that day and, as we only gather together once a month, I really didn’t want to miss it. So I did something quite radical – for me! – I went out celebrating with my lady friends and left the menfolk at home to prepare the tea!!! I felt quite naughty, ha! ha! But I really enjoyed myself and found the speakers talk about producing award winning wine from grapes grown on his allotment a real eye-opener.
I arrived back home just before four o’clock and there all laid out was afternoon tea with my favourite Mandalay china, the fire was lit and glowing and my presents and cards were piled up ready for me to open. And there were fragrant spice cakes (my first of the Winter/Christmas season) and a delicious tangy lemon drizzle cake decorated with candles. Bliss!
To sit with some of my nearest and very dearest around the family hearth is a joy to me at any time, but especially on this, the celebration of my solar return. As the dusk dwindled into darkness outside, there was light and laughter within.
Later, we all wrapped up warmly and went out into the garden to have the little bonfire that was originally planned as a finale to Calan Gaeaf, but made an even more welcome end to my personal celebrations. My husband lit the fire and kept it well stoked… I brought out the hot potato pie, carrots and turnips mashed with lashings of butter and freshly ground pepper and jars of the beetroot and red cabbage which I pickled only a few weeks ago. I suddenly discovered that it adds a certain zest to a meal if one cannot entirely see what is coming on the next forkful of food!
Later, there was equally hot apple crumble doused in thick cream which one of my dearest friends had contributed towards the meal. She had also provided sparklers to light and which we danced around the flames with like six-year-olds! And there were marshmallows… large and sweet and bubbling on the end of our toasting forks while our hands grew progressively redder from the scorching fire. Mugs of piping hot tea and coffee finished the whole thing off.
Eventually, the forecast rain made a tardy appearance and washed us all back indoors – but at least we had enjoyed our time outside first. A truly lovely birthday!
And what did I spend the first morning of my new year doing? Why, organising Christmas, of course… what else?!!!