Celebrations 5

We shared lunch with some friends yesterday. We produced turkey, stuffing, bread sauce and brandy butter and they did the vegetables and pudding and supplied the house; very pleasant it was. The day was so ‘busy’ that we didn’t finish lunch till 4 p.m. and the last present was opened amid yawns at 9 p.m.! Today, recovery is distinctly slow. We were invited to neighbours for a coffee at 10 a.m. – so we had to miss breakfast to get there in time! Since then we’ve been playing with toys and generally mooching about.

Praise be our rush of entertaining is over. Actually it went v. well. One evening this week we had two couples and it went like a dream. Everyone chatted madly – about intelligent things – and we both (and I hope they) enjoyed it. I cooked a deeelicious dinner – fillet steak (a whole fillet) in madeira sauce and mushrooms baked in flaky pastry. It cost $7 + for the fillet here – can’t think what it would have been in the UK.

We went for Saturday to celebrate X’s birthday. It must all be very exhausting for poor Y, as he has a children’s outing and tea on the day and then has the other grandparents and us on separate days because it embarrasses her for us that they give such much bigger presents than we do!!!!!!

So far we have only one Christmas party in the offing. We had the Bridge club closing do on Tuesday, and I’m glad to say that they had some much more discreet arrangements about the drinks this year, so no one got roaring tight as the President did last year. Quite a pleasant evening of chat, except that the noise level was so high that it was hard both to chat and be chatted.

We are having an Old Year’s Night party – there are 32 and only 5 men including mine host who is ‘the Director’ and is the most charmless man I’ve ever come across. He’s so nasty to his Bridge partners who are not up to his playing.   Much to our surprise mine host actually entertained us all to champagne at midnight. Of course several of them couldn’t say no and by the time we left were getting v. red in the face!

Midnight champagne

I loved your birthday card you sent me, a special thank you – could it be coincidence that all 5 cards I got had either caterpillars or butterflies on them?! One day I found a box of chocolates, a spray of orchids and a packet of T-bone steak on the doorstep (bet you’ve never had that on your doorstep!) It was from our neighbouring farmer whose sheep come in the next paddock.

We didn’t go out for X’s birthday this year (a dinner for the family absorbed more than this month’s budget for that item, for one thing!) – but I bought some pate, and pork chops, and we did very nicely (with a bit of a pause after the pate to cook the rest of it! I didn’t dare leave it in the pan). Then on Friday Y had prepared a nice birthday lunch for us, so X had a second go of presents.

She was superb, and went through the whole day with never a squeak, in spite of two yards of baptism dress (how well I remember your fury at not being able to kick in yours!) and in spite of being handed round to everybody to hold, and be photoed, and so on, with only a short snatch of sleep while we all had lunch. The baptism party which had started at 10, finally broke up about four thirty, and I was much too exhausted to finish this after we got home!

We went to X’s 21st birthday, which was a magnificent dinner for about twenty held in the preschool place next door. The first time I have worn my dinner jacket for years. (It is fifty-nine years old I see from the date in the pocket and still fits reasonably well, except that I seem to have shrunk in the legs, as the trousers hung round my ankles in swathes).

Celebrations 3

After the ceremony we moved to the food table in the garden which looked magnificent piled with meat (I’d cooked a 24 lb turkey two nights before!) and salads and homemade bread and cheese and fruit – and wine too of course. And a cake which my mother ended up by cutting because she seemed to do it much more efficiently than me! In the middle of the feast much excitement and commotion when a huge telegraph pole crashed in slow motion outside the cottage – hurting no one luckily! But it cut the electricity and telephone. Present-opening in the garden, and a friend of ours did magic tricks and we made some ‘speeches’ – my father made a great one, very lovely, calling everyone there ‘friends’ and welcoming X into the family. My parents adored every minute of it and everyone thought they were great – no one wanted them to leave when they did.

Christmas was really quiet. X went home returning to tell us of all the huge and wonderful meals her mum and relatives served her while we who stayed here starved on scraps in the staff ‘Beanery’. The food is really atrocious, and they didn’t lay anything special on for Xmas, which was pretty miserable of them I thought.

Scraps at the Beanery

X was old enough this year to really enjoy his birthday. Y came up and we celebrated with just us and her. Little X loved opening all his pressies with great excitement and then we had some party tea. It all went very nicely.

We had a big staff party on Christmas Eve, which was pretty good, got up late on Christmas Day and generally lazed around. New Year’s Eve we, 8 of us, went for a sooper dooper meal with dancing afterwards which was really good. We don’t get out too often, as the townsite is 4 miles away, and the road is like an ice rink, and cabs are expensive.

I really envied you the fireworks and the general crazy feeling you get in London on an occasion like that [Charles’ & Diana’s wedding] I think the last one I went to was 1945 at the end of the war.

We made Guy Fawkes a movable feast (it was pouring with rain on the actual night), and late Saturday night had a huge slash-fire as a bonfire, roasting wieners on sticks and sitting around the fire drinking beer – also dancing in the field to music on the radio. Halfway through the evening it began to snow, but it was only light and we kept on eating and drinking and dancing. It was really exciting, with the huge fires and the snow, and X read to us about the ancient history of fire celebrations.

My birthday was really fabulous. The party in the evening was really marvellous. There were 20 of us altogether at the most expensive and best restaurant in town. It was a fabulous turnout and he had menus specially written for us and 2 birthday cakes to have at the end of our 7 or 8 course meal! We arrived at 8 and didn’t leave until something like 1.30 or 2. But it was a wonderful evening.

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