Christmas Past...

All was calm, all was bright...mostly! This was our Christmas table at the farm, in one of my favourite rooms (it's also one of the oldest...1600's)...we arrived on Christmas Eve, laden with food & presents and added our parcels to the pile that already threatened to engulf the tree..
In the morning, I crept into the room that my youngest sister & her husband were sharing with my youngest nephew, Will - he's 3 1/2 which is the perfect age for magic! He was also too young to wake up very early...a real bonus as we all got to sleep in until 8am! It was so wonderful to watch him opening his stocking...and sneaking a crafty chocolate coin or two which he insisted were his breakfast!
 The day progressed in a scramble of wrapping paper & odd food eaten at inappropriate times...I was in charge of cooking the dinner and had half an hour of pure peace when everyone went out to walk various dogs and I was left at home with a roaring fire...

& pans of spiced red cabbage and butternut squash barley risotto gently bubbling away. We never have a turkey at Christmas (or, indeed, ever!) so nothing was tied up in the oven for hours. This year it was a rib of beef...just an hour of roasting, alongside the potatoes & parsnips, a few steamed brussels sprouts and all was ready...Mum lit the candles...

and we all sat down to eat (after pulling the crackers and wearing the obligatory paper crowns of course...!) I can't remember my cracker joke, but my favourite joke of the holiday was this one:Q- What cheese can you hide a horse in? A: Mascarpone! You really have to say it out loud. I loved it!
We stayed up far too late eating far too many chocolates, dates & candied fruits while watching the Downton Abbey Christmas special (very lovely & satisfying is all I will say in case you haven't seen it yet) and eventually went to bed very full but very happy.

Boxing Day was another late-ish start...Paul had brough locally smoked kippers for everyone's breakfast (except mine - I had porridge!) which taste delicious but make the house smell of fish for hours. Dad's way around this is to cook them on the barbecue - genius! Luckily it was a mild day...and so, with William's help, the barbecue was lit and the kippers grilled...
and it was the perfect meal.
Paul & Alice and I left in the late afternoon after watching 'The Sound of Music' for the millionth time...and it was all over again. Or almost.
For me, the thing to do at Christmas is nothing out of the ordinary. I love to spend those few days in a loving bubble of family, tradition and comfort. My favourite memories are always very simple things...the endless rounds of tea-making, the frenzied unwrapping and cries of 'oh thanks so much!!' and, above all, the shared tasks...the peeling, the chopping, the tasting, the washing up...

surrounded by some of those that I love most in the world.
Who could ask for more than that?

I hope that you had a magical time too...and the New Year beckons, with all it's excitement and potential...but I'm going to hold on to the last few days of 2011 for as long as I can!

With love xo


  1. Your Christmas looks wonderful! I love that when you pull those Christmas crackers you tell the jokes and wear the paper hats! Here's one I like: "Where did Queen Victoria keep her armies?" Wait for it........."Up her sleevies". This is very funny with a nice glass of wine!
    Happy new year!

  2. Oh Rachel....I think that most of us have so much in common----those simple pleasures of having food together and sharing laughter and all good things. The farm looks like such a special place to be....that's what I'm imagining as we dream of our next place....I always have Christmas in mind. The holidays spent with family; that's what's most important. I spend a lot of the year preparing's wonderful. I love the table and the traditions and how you've captured your beautiful family. I'm thrilled that although our countries are different and so far apart, there are so many similarities, too. Family, Food, Love....
    Enjoy these last moments of 2011 my dear!

  3. It was difficult to imagine a Christmas without turkey until I lived in Englandé I miss it sorely, and especially the long time waiting for it to cook. Oh the smell in the house!

    Like you, it is the simple things that I remember of Christmas (usually food related): the heavy Christmas supper after midnight, the bûches de Noël (one with ice cream, the other one a simple rolled cake with maple flavoured icing), the donuts, the smell of the Christmas tree, the electric train.

  4. Aw! What a nice post, rachel :) I loved hearing all that yu did :)

    Thanks for sharing with us, loved the pictures! And the joke lol!

    Denise of Ingleside

  5. How lovely, Rachel!

    I loved reading about your Christmas. It's so much fun to learn of other people's traditions.

    One more day of 2011....

    xoxoxo Dawn

  6. How totally lovely. Your Christmas looks and sounds truly magical with all the elements that make life worth living. Hard to imagine living in a place from the 1600's. My Grandpap (as he was called!) lived in an old MD farmhouse but must have been from the 1800's--when I was a kid it had an outhouse. No doubt your farm did too. But really it all looks wonderful, the patchwork of happy life. Except for the fish smells--I love the smell of fish--could spend hours in a fish market and cooking fish just as wonderful. Glad it was great and also that now not only are you baking brownies for Mozart but are baking them WITH him as well. ♥

  7. Cozy, loving, beautiful, and undoubtedly delicious. We usually have standing rib, your dinner sounds superb. I love brussels sprouts sliced up like little cabbages and chased around in my grandmother's iron skillet until slightly browned. And I gave my mother "The Sound of Music" this Christmas--so lovely. Happy, Happy to you all! xo

  8. The most perfect Christmas, I loved reading about it. The fireplace roaring and the woodsmoke smell, and red cabbage sounds delicious with the beef. Much happiness in 2012!

  9. What happened when the hyena ate a stock cube?

    He made a laughing stock of himself!

    I don't know how many times that came up in the crackers, but each time it did it made me laugh! I am so sad!

    Lovely Christmas pics, thoroughly enjoyed seeing them. Red cabbage, one of my favourite side dishes ever. We don't have turkey either, we had a nice Sutton Hoo chicken this year, then on Boxing Day we had a beef pie made by me, and for which I had to do the prep on Christmas Day! Lots of cooking that day, my poor old oven.

    love the idea of cooking kippers on the bbq, it's genius! They really do make the house stink, so yes, get 'em outside!

    Wishing you a very wonderful NYE, and all the very best for a happy and healthy 2012.

    Much love

  10. Loved it! Happy New Year my sweetest person! To you and yours xoxo Love you!

  11. This is my idea of a perfect Christmas! It's been quite a while since we've been able to celebrate one like this, but your post makes me even more determined to do it soon, if I can just get everyone home at the same time. Loved reading about it and loved the pictures! Thanks for sharing! xoxo

  12. O Rachel I love this! It looks just like it fell off the page from a Victorian Christmas book! Lovely xx


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