Christmas is creeping up on me, it does this every year! We always buy our Christmas trees late, so they look good on Christmas day and haven’t been reduced to twigs. And for us there’s nothing like a real tree, as the smell of the pine with a peat fire, captures the aroma of the season. That’s a guilty secret – we don’t use peat anymore. This year we have opted for living trees, so hopefully with a bit of tender, loving care, we will be able to keep them alive over the holiday period and plant them out in the spring.
December has been picture postcard perfect – no rain, blue skies and surprisingly for West Cork – frosts! Now the garden is defined by the sharp lines between the boundaries and the skeletons of the trees and shrubs, which the frost contrasts starkly each morning, particularly in the maze. Joy of joy, no more sloshing through the mud, as the ground is now frozen hard.
We’ve gone all eco with the lawn mower and bought an old fashioned push mower, so it’s out with the ‘toys for boys’ (which cost a small fortune to run and maintain each year and spend more time out of action being fixed) and it’s in with the muscle power. In fact it’s a much lighter mower, so it doesn’t take any longer to cut the lawn and the result is just as effective.
It’s the Sunday before Christmas – the trees are decorated, the stockings hung by the fire, cards and letters sent abroad – oops just the Christmas Cake still to make, but that’s OK as I have a recipe for a last minute one. Then there’s the festive fare to plan. We’re having Stargazy pie for Christmas Eve, a modern take on an old Cornish recipe. I just love the story behind it of the fisherman returning home to the quay lit by candles, after he braved the stormy seas with his cat to bring his catch home to the people of his village on a Christmas Eve.
‘Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night’