And so it is Christmas. A very different Christmas this year for everyone, torn away from family and friends .We are very sad that Tom cannot be with us , but I am pleased that he has been able to celebrate with his friends .Thank goodness for facetime, and portals, and mobile phones.
Christmas in Spain. As I type this, the sun is shining down, and we have cerulean blue skies over the mountains and sea. We are about to have brunch on the terrace, which is very cheering. I have to say that the last few years in the UK, the weather at Christmas has been grey and damp, not the `let it snow ,let it snow, let it snow`, fantasy of yesteryear, so we are very happy in the sunshine.
We decided therefore,as we are living here, to embrace both English and Spanish traditions this year, and have traditional Christmas food ,( Turkey and Christmas pudding is a must), but eat it on Christmas Eve evening ,as the Spanish do, leaving Christmas Day itself to be a much more relaxed affair. On the beach of course!
I made my usual ( Delia Smith recipe) Christmas cake from her 1994 (eek!) book, which is well thumbed and splattered! This was a feat i itself, as I couldnt find a currant for love or money! Substitution was necessary. I decorated it with an original 1960s Father Christmas, robin, deer and spiky fir trees. This is exactly how Christmas cakes from my childhood were always done. A lovely memory to pull out each year.
I made her Christmas pudding ice cream, with glace fruits marinaded in Madeira. I made brandy butter-you can`t buy it here, but I have to say it`s delicious-I added orange rind, (from a freshly picked orange no less), and I also made a cherry and almond cake, a new recipe for me-it has a layer of marzipan in the middle and was a great success.
We have discovered a fairly newly-opened English Butcher in town. So pleased. Tony makes his own sausages every day , and they are delicious! We cooked one of his hams in mustard and brown sugar, ( Delia again) and his home cured bacon and fillet of beef are perfect.
I wanted to thank our various neighbours for all the fresh produce that they have given us , so kindly over the last few months, but it is difficult to do so. I made over 100 mince pies and shared them out, but the minute I did, they came back with more goodies, oranges, avocados, sweet potatoes spiced and steeped in Miel de Cana ( sugar cane honey), and more-ish ,sugary , dough-nuty Roscos and Pestinos Navidenos. I`ve already had three this morning!
We exchanged presents with our friends Ana on Christmas Eve, and we went to Church at 5.30pm. Once again ,the scent of flowers filled the ancient building and we sang,( or attempted to sing) carols in Spanish and sort of understood the traditional Christmas readings.
We LOVED our Christmas dinner for two. We are both big roast turkey fans ,and one of my favourite things is a festive flaming Christmas pudding, drenched in brandy of course. I adored it. The puddings were sent to me by a friend courtesy of Waitrose , and we have another one for New Years Eve!
We opened our presents on Christmas morning, then headed to the beach at La Herradura. It was a treat in itself ,driving along the coast road with its beautiful views, as up until last week, with new rules in place, we weren’t allowed to stray from our `municipality` ,and as it is somewhere we usually go to every Sunday, we had really missed it.
So Christmas day on the beach, with Harry the Lurcher dressed in red tinsel getting many an admiring glance. He tolerated it ( and a noisy red bell) very well, and embraced the occasion. The sun was glorious, my husband braved the sea, an obligatory swim of course, and we ate sublime Tuna Tatiki, followed by Mango Mousse.
Then home, feet up and a Christmas film. Happy Christmas to one and all!
Drawings by Andrew Ruffhead http://www.fish-and-ships.com