Good morning to you all on a somewhat grey and overcast (but at least it’s not raining) kind of day. We’ve had an excellent few days since we last corresponded; an exceedingly fine Christmas Day, a delightful visit from two of the three Jefferies boys, and a fantastic fondue festival next door. Apart from the prank phone call at 3:00 in the morning by some crank lunatic on Christmas Eve, I guess one could say that it’s been a delightful week.
As you might be able to deduce from that list, there has been no shortage of food and/or drink during the past few days. The birthday dinner (which we described last week, I believe) set the tone and actually I can confirm that the schedule for the past week is little short of ideal. A huge feast followed by a day or two off followed by another feast and so on. We had my birthday and then a few days off. Then there was Christmas and a couple of days off followed by the arrival of George and Joe Jefferies which necessitated, obviously, another feast. We then had a day off and then came the Fondue Festival. So, as you can see, it’s been a challenging few days.
Christmas was very nice – just Pen and me (Nick and Lucy and Michael all had very much more attractive invitations than to sit around with a couple of old farts) but that certainly did not preclude Ms Playchute from preparing a most wonderful and delicious Christmas lunch. She decided, this year, to go for a goose (free range and organic, of course) and it was delicious. The roast potatoes in goose fat were particularly outstanding, the red cabbage was, surprisingly, almost palatable and the Christmas pudding was, well, Christmas pudding. The only less than outstanding aspect of the feast was the Brussels sprouts which, even though they were prepared with one of Nigella Lawson’s “guaranteed to please” sprout recipes, they were still fairly nauseating. I guess there really is very little one can do to disguise the taste and smell of Brussels sprouts. (This particular recipe had diced Parma ham and Marsala wine which one would think would be enough to get rid of the taste and smell of the sprouts but, alas, there was little impact. Surprisingly, we had sprouts left over for just about the whole week).
On Boxing Day we had a rest but were delighted to receive a phone call from George and Joe Jefferies who were in the UK and keen to come for a visit. The Jefferies, you will remember, were a family from Ratley (at the top of Edge Hill) with three boys just about the ages of our three. We lost their mother Jan to breast cancer about five years ago now and the boys have gone their various ways. Bill, the eldest, is a lawyer and currently working in Bahrain. Joe helps run French Cycling Holidays with whom we pedalled our socks off in the Dordogne a couple of years ago and George is currently teaching English in Hanoi (he set off on a world tour a few years ago and, like Adam, seems to have become stalled somewhere along the line). So, Joe and George were in the UK visiting relatives and we were delighted to be able to welcome them along with Jan’s boyfriend Steve to dinner and accommodation at Penelope’s Playchute Palace. The boys are both doing very well and it was a delight and joy to see them.
Then, after another day off, it was time for Pete and Sally’s annual Fondue Festival. I’m not quite sure how this started but they’ve been doing it around about Christmas/New Year’s for six or seven years; I’m not sure if the first one might not have been on New Year’s Eve in 1999? We moan about being invited every year (well, I moan a bit, not being a great fan of cheese fondue although there are always enough other fine bits and pieces to ensure that I don’t go hungry by any stretch of the imagination) but it always turns out to be a lot of fun. This year there was a theme which required some degree of dressing up. Pete is planning on an odyssey this summer around each of the fifty United States and has set himself the challenge of visiting every single major league baseball stadium in the US and, in those states which do not have a major league baseball team, he is planning on visiting a minor league baseball game. The trip will take him about seven months and certainly we plan to catch up with him at the end of August when his schedule takes him to the Yankees and the Mets. His visit to Fenway in Boston is not until the 31 August and that may be too late for me but, of course, it’s Fenway that I would love to visit. Anyone who lives near a major league baseball town and who wants to sponsor Pete in the sense of perhaps providing a bed for the night, let me know and I will pass your invitations along.
So, since Pete is going to the US for the summer, the theme of the fondue fest was to come along as something American. Not surprisingly, I gave the issue absolutely no thought at all. After all, I could simply turn up as myself. Ms Playchute, on the other hand, thought long and hard and in the end I was instructed that we were going to attend as Sonny and Cher. Obviously, as far as I was concerned, almost no costume was necessary – with my head of hair and moustache, I am regularly mistaken for the late Sonny Bono. Pen, however, had her work cut out but it’s amazing what a long, straight wig can do. Regrettably, (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) there is no photographic evidence available so you will just have to let your imaginations loose and then multiply the terrifyingly horrific image in your mind by about twenty.
And so ends 2006 and what a fine year it’s been. We are blessed with wonderful family and friends and cursed by relatively few tedious acquaintances. We love you all and, as you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.
This from Sarah
Top 7 Idiots of 2006
Number Three Idiot of 2006
Number Four Idiot of 2006
Instead of payment, he sent the police department a photograph of $40.00. Several days later, he received a letter from the police that contained another picture, this time of handcuffs. He immediately mailed in his $40.00.
Number Five Idiot of 2006
And finally, a toast for the New Year!
John O'Leary hoisted his beer and said, "Here's to spending the rest of me life, between the legs of me wife!"
That won him the top prize for the best toast of the night!
He went home and told his wife, Mary, "I won the prize for the best toast of the night."
She said, "Aye, and what was your toast?"
John said, "Er... it was: Here's to spending the rest of me life, sitting in church beside me wife."
"Oh that is very nice indeed, John!" Mary said.
The next day, Mary ran into one of John's toasting buddies on the street corner. The man chuckled leeringly and said, "John won the prize the other night, with a toast about you, Mary."
She said, "Aye and I was a bit surprised meself! You know, he's only been there twice! Once he fell asleep, and the other time I had to pull him by the ears to make him come."