Ah Christmas, the whirlwind of family, fun and feasts… and as much of it all as you can possibly cram into just a few fleeting days!
After a few quiet Christmases spent with only my parents, this year was due to be a big one and all the more of a whirlwind as we crammed everything we could possibly remember into bags, loaded up the car and headed North to Scotland straight after work on the 23rd.
There were 10 of us spending Christmas together and for lack of room (and want of personal space) we arranged to stay just down the road from my Aunt & Uncle’s house in a beautiful little holiday cottage.
It was cosy and warm with beautiful features including a quirky bridge which led from one of the bedrooms, over the living room to an open mezzanine area. This was kitted out as an extra bed and children’s play area, but I found it a perfect space to use for luggage and presents.
The ideal base for a festive break! Having arrived at 1am we didn’t do much at all on our first night, going straight to bed and waking up in our little cottage on Christmas Eve.
We met my family and jumped on the train to Edinburgh, where a Christmas fair was on.
We arrived to find the usual wooden cabins filled with food, drinks and festive gifts, it was all incredibly well put together with no shortage of red carpets, Christmas trees and twinkling lights to give the fair a truly Christmasy feel. The grand and Gothic architecture of Edinburgh made the perfect backdrop.
First stop on arrival was food: we were all ravenous! Luckily there were of course no shortage of German sausage stalls. Bring on the Bratwurst!
Oh, and this right here might just be my favourite picture I have ever taken…
Not far behind getting fed was the priority of finding a drink. Again, no problem at all and we were soon all sipping on steaming cups of Gluhwein. Expensive, but very well created. I took mine with an extra shot of rum. (Y’know… to keep warm)
I was impressed (relieved) that it wasn’t overrun with people. I had been worried that it would be packed, but save for a few phone calls to lost family members who had seen something shiny and wondered off, the crowds were very manageable.
Once digested we couldn’t resist the rides and despite paying through the nose for it (Five pounds!) it turned out to be a fiver well spent. Why is being flung around so hysterical?!
A few more gluhweins and people watching at the ice rink and night had crept in on us. It got incredibly cold but we wondered along to see the Christmas lights on the next street, which were just beautiful. Enough to warm the coldest heart! (and toes!)
I could stare at fairy lights forever! I did try, but the last train was calling and we headed home for beef stew, wine and sleep before the big man arrived.
I’m not ashamed to say that I regress a good twenty years on Christmas day; bounding out of bed and announcing to everyone what day it is (in case they didn’t know). I think a particular favourite for Q and my dad this year was a wake-up call rendition of “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year” by yours truly!
Our presents looked quite comical hoarded in any way we could get them around the vicinity of our little cottage Christmas tree! Whilst the food is always the main event for me on the big day, presents are of course really bloody nice. I just love finally giving out the presents I have bought and been keeping secret for weeks.
A pre-breakfast snack was Christmas cake, or in this case ‘Black cake’ which is a Guyanese version; very similar to the British style only filled with dark rum which gives it the black colour. Totally delicious, you know how I like rum!
We headed down the road to meet my family for the day.
The afternoon played out in a cycle of champagne, presents and food as I imagine it did in most households across the country! Cooking for ten people is always going to be a challenge, but somehow we all pulled together to create an absolute belter of a feast with not one burnt sprout, not a dry piece of turkey and not a single corner cut. My aunty even whipped up a prawn cocktail starter.
What is it about a prawn cocktail that despite being totally naff it just absolutely delicious? I love them!
Another thing I love is the bacon that comes off the turkey. I circle around like a vulture when the bird comes out waiting to dive in and steal a piece.
We each had handmade cranberry wreaths marking our place at the table, which were previously disguised as decorations on the tree, how cute! (I get called by my full name with the fam)
My placement at the table turned out to be perfect: right by the potatoes and pigs in blankets! I served myself what I thought was a modest amount of everything, but with the amount of trimmings we had; the potatoes, the carrots, the parsnips, the two kinds of stuffing, the cabbage, the bread sauce… I was soon looking down at the gargantuan plate of food. I wouldn’t have Christmas day any other way, and I shocked my grandpa as I went back for seconds… and thirds! (Food blogger in her element)
As is tradition, it all ended with a theatrical flaming pudding.
What an incredible feast. It’s amazing the amount of effort that goes into a Christmas meal; whoever cooks it in your family really deserves a lot of thanks, it’s such hard work! Thankfully we attacked ours as a team to spread the load.
After two action packed days we spent Boxing Day morning lying in, and the majority of the day lazing around the cottage with our presents and Harry Potter.
Unfortunately, our lovely cottage stay went a bit sour at this point, when I turned around to find a lady stood in our kitchen. It turned out she was the owner and had let herself in, which not only startled me but had me really annoyed. Nonetheless we went into the pleasantries of did we each have a nice Christmas etc etc.
She then casually dropped the bombshell that her family were staying and that “Andrew” was going to sleep on our mezzanine and that, “He’ll just let himself in and out as he pleases.” …eer I’m sorry, what?
She wasn’t happy when I insisted that I wasn’t comfortable with her plans and she asked me to explain why not… apparently it isn’t glaringly obvious that a family wouldn’t be comfortable with a man they’ve never met sleeping in their holiday home where they sleep and dress and keep their valuables.
The encounter ended with her striding up to the mezzanine, pulling my clothes that were laid on the bed onto the floor, taking the duvet and leaving. The whole thing was just bizarre and we all stood around with mouths open at what had just happened. I have no idea how an owner of a holiday home could think that this was something acceptable to impose on the people staying. It was so disappointing: what had previously felt like a relaxing stay now felt unwelcoming and under surveillance.
I felt warm and fuzzy relief as we walked through the front door of my Aunt & Uncle’s and was met with happy faces and a delicious looking buffet being laid out. I don’t care how many times TV chefs throw leftover turkey recipes at me, nothing beats the Boxing Day buffet with cold meats and cheeses and salads and chutneys! You can keep your turkey curry.
Late into the night we played games. Heads Up has become a fast favourite of mine; check it out on the App Store!
I feel like the Christmas period flew by in a blur of food and drink and before I knew it what I thought was would be a long time in Scotland came to an end. If I’m honest, I was a little relived to be leaving the cottage, reinforced the morning we were packing up the car and Q encountered a man from next door who flashed him the daggers. Andrew perhaps?! Sorry about having to sleep on the floor buddy. (Not sorry).