Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year

Certain members in my family are watched over by a guardian angel. Amazingly I am one, the other is my mother. This holiday just proved it again. It was, despite my pre-holiday gloom, pretty good. We had a really relaxing happy time staying with my brother in law. All the kids just got along famously. The house is pretty big, and they just rambled about playing together or alone as the mood suited. There were almost no arguments and only a couple strops.

We ate a lot of good food. Very good food, and some rather nice alcohol. Take Xmas dinner. This kind of defines how my in laws get along in the world. Everything is from someone known, a friend or family. The starter was smoked salmon from an old family friend up in Scotland on brown bread done by my modest self. This was begun with a champagne shipped over by an Uncle living in France, and finished with a tasty French Vin de Table supplied by moi (the French sometimes do themselves injustice by calling the absolute best wines Vin de Table (an old appellation system doesn’t keep up with the times (but it means I can get fantastic wines for a snip so I don’t complain much))).

The main was a pair of gooses from the farm down the road. Stuffed with Chestnuts from our tree and Rosemary from the garden. Along with this is sprouts from the garden, braised red cabbage (old family recipe, you cook it in the oven with apple cider, cooking apples, sultanas and bacon), roasted potatoes and parsnips, bread sauce and giblet gravy. This was served with a Chilean red, 9 years old, but done by those peasants the Rothchilds, absolute yum).

First pudding is Christmas pud (made by an Aunty) with brandy butter (made by my BIL, very alcoholic). Second pudding is Chocolates. Washed down with 14 year old Tokaji. Then a cheese course with a 38 year old Port, and once the kids are rounded up and put to bed, a 38 year old Amagnac. Filter in a day long even of present opening with a trip to Church and it was a very very good day. There were also no arguments. Every one, even the other brother in law who is usually miserable and argumentative, kept the peace. A nice nice day.

So it was a fine fine Christmas with happy children and happier adults. We played tag in a gale in a mountain top, went swimming, road horses, played various family games and generally relaxed. It was just a good week.

But not perfect. Back to the guardian angel. Boxing day I get an email from one of my sisters. My mother had a stroke. Talk about your heart dropping down to your feet. This is so not what she needed. Years on from the car accident and she’d been well on the road to independence. She’s a fighter, albeit a happy one, and life was looking good. What a disaster.

Yet that angel held back the worst. A week on and despite having been found paralysed down her left hand side (which means a right brain stroke so no speech impediment), she’s regained used of her left arm and can now take her weight and walk short distances. That’s a remarkable recovery.

On top of that two Aunts got hospitalised, one for a heart dysfunction, the other with a horrid virus. So I had a great holiday personally, but the news that kept coming in was not good.

Then, just yesterday I needed intervention from that angel. I was up the ladder cleaning the gutters when the ladder slid out from under me. Fool that I was I just got on with it without a spotter. Won’t make that mistake again. I fell a full story. Despite (or perhaps because of) destroying a small Olive tree and another pot I walked away. I’ve broken nothing (other than my pride for being an idiot). Bruises are the worst I’ve had, despite accident after accident, I've never broken a bone. I'm covered in scars, but that's it, just scars. That's what I mean about a Guardian Angel. Bad things happen, but not so bad. You get up, you walk on, you find the good in life.

Really, I can’t complain. It was a good holiday and though there were some worries, it was good. So tell me, how was yours? Are you rested and jolly?


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