First of all, Happy New Year to you all!I've just returned home, to a cat who seems pleased to see me, (although he will no doubt find a way to punish him for leaving him to the tender mercies of my excellent cat-sitter for the past 4 days)
My sister, K, had suggested that it would be fun to spend New Year together, and as a result we rented a small Tower in a village on the edge of Cheltenham, chosen on the basis that
(a) the Cotswolds are pretty, and equally reachable for all of us
(b) Who wouldn't want to stay in a tower, if they had the opportunity?
(c) It was available for New Year
(d) it was affordable.
We had originally hoped that the party would consist of me, both sisters, K's partner C , my brother and his girlfriend and K&C's friend, B. However, my brother wasn't able to join us so there ended up being the five of us.
All of us except B, who couldn't make it until New Year's Eve, arrived on Wednesday - K, C & I turned up in the afternoon, and busied ourselves with the essentials, such as bagsy-ing the different rooms, taking a delivery of groceries, unpacking and, perhaps most important of all, locating the nearest pub, which was about 5 minutes walk away, and had a wonderful fire and some rather good beer (Butcombe)...
It was a bit of a wrench to leave the pub and walk back in what turned out to be a bitterly cold evening in time to met E, and start cooking supper.
On New Year's Eve we went out for a cold but bracing walk to the next village along, through some frosty and muddy fields, with a view of Cheltenham racecourse, and the somewhat unexpected sight of a steamtrain in the distance, then back via the second of 'our' village's pubs (The Plough) which had no fire, but *did* have some truly magnificent beer (Adnam's Broadside).
We had decided that we would have a proper formal meal for New Year, and would all dress accordingly, and had also decided to push the boat out when it came to the menu - I was in charge of the main course and the timeing, but happily had several sous-chefs to whom I was able to delagate tasks such as mushroom-choppage... And of course the Peach Bellinis helped, too ... Once all the preparation was done, and the first course in the oven, we all went to get scrubbed up in order to see out the year in stlye.
Then, pausing only for a quick photo-call, and a glass of fizz, we sat down to dine.
Home made Tomato Soup
Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Terrine
with green salad
Roast Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables
with whipped cream & toasted almonds
We had planned for a cheese course, too, but none of us were hungry by that time! In order not to take things *too* seriously, the gentlemen of the party had carefully accessorized their dinner jackets and black ties with a number of silly seasonal hats; not quite enough for one with each course, but almost!
The rest of the evening passed with further games, then prosecco to toast the New Year, followed, for reasons which now escape me, by a viewing of Hot Fuzz.
We did very little on New Year's Day, but on 2nd January, which was a gloriously bright, sunny day, we decided upon another walk.
This time we went to another nearby town - Winchcombe, where we took a circular walk, up the hill behind the town, through fields of sheep (and, a little later, some fine Gloucester Old Spot pigs), then back past Sudely castle.
Although it was very sunny, there had been hard frosts and in a lot of places there was still frost and ice on the ground, only occasionally breaking through to thick mud, in the most unexpected places!
As attentive readers may have guessed, we finished our walk in the local pub - The White Hart.
Sadly, that brought to a close our stay, and this morning we had no time to do anything except pack up and go our separate ways, but it was, I think, a thoroughly succesful New Year celebration.
I hope all of you had an equally enjoyable time.