As usual Chatsworth was a delight at Christmas time and this year the theme was Charles Dickens – so wonderful for me, as a writer. The picture above isn’t our Christmas dinner at the Big House … look closely and you’ll see the cobwebs over a wedding feast. Yes, it’s Great Expectations, and Miss Haversham was there to greet us!
She was joined in other parts of the house by Ebenezer Scrooge, startled in his bed by the ghost of Christmas Past …
… and we loved Fagin, and the London Christmas of Oliver Twist….
… the magical creations of houses sculpted from old book pages, the Christmas tree made from books …
It was all simply charming. But the day was truly icy as we wandered round the gardens, remembering the many days we’ve spent walking there in summer, along the river and across the parkland, but what a lovely walk it was, despite noses and mouths freezing. It was a fantastic start to the Christmas period and we look forward to next year’s theme.
It is the time of year when I go into hibernation for a while to devote my time to my friends and family for Christmas and the New Year. It doesn’t look as though we are going to have the dreamed-of white Christmas in the UK but we are still getting ready the mulled wine, hot mince pies and looking forward to cooking turkey with all the trimmings. Today we have baked sticky toffee pudding which will be an alternative to the Christmas plum pud with brandy sauce, and we are freezing it for The Day!
starters: meat antipasti platter/seafood platter with salad
main course: roast turkey with ‘pigs in blankets’, chestnut stuffing, crispy roast potatoes, carrots, honeyed roast parsnips, brussels with bacon lardons and herb butter
pudding: plum pud with brandy and Courvoisier sauce; raspberry and prosecco panna cotta terrine; limoncello buche de Noel; sticky toffee pudding
We have a lot of guests but I think we’ll be eating left-overs for weeks (hopefully!).
I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and successful New Year. See you in 2016!