Posted by Tania Kindersley.
The great-nieces and nephew come for tea. I am still battling to find my full Christmas spirit, and so it was an excellent tonic to put on a special festive feast. I was also having a very, very bad hair day. But here is the wonderful thing about small people. They really do not care about the hair. They roar into the house, laugh and hug and skip, open eyes like saucers at the various foods on the table, grin their heads off, and tell you their news.
These particular ones also used my Christmas decorations as earrings, admired my tulips, and sang some songs. Then the oldest showed me her highland dancing. They also have a perfect habit of suddenly hurling themselves into one’s arms for a surprise hug. They find this very funny. (There is some science to show that hugging lowers blood pressure, calms the heart, and may even be the secret to longevity; so having the children here is like actual medicine for me.) They also stroked the Pigeon’s velvety ears, and now the smallest of the Smalls can say her name. He was excessively proud of himself.
For the tea, I made: tomato sandwiches, a favourite from my own childhood. Also, cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches. I even cut the crusts off. I made my special chocolate fridge cake, something I invented last Christmas, with hazelnuts and glacé cherries. There was shortbread (bought, not made; I am not quite that domestic godessy) and cocktail sausages and some carrot sticks and egg mayonnaise. I did some little cheesy popover things, also an invention, which are like a sort of cross between a fritter and a potato cake. I was not sure if the children would like those, but the oldest great-niece had four. She kept holding up four fingers and smiling beatifically to show me. And, since I am in a bit of a retro mood, we had lemon barley water to drink. It was very, very sweet.
Now they are gone and the house is silent again. There is just the faint crack and pop from the fire next door, and the slow breathing of the Pigeon by my side. I am going to have an early night and then tomorrow there is the Big Push on the post office. Wish me luck.
Some very quick pictures, as I am shattered after my entertaining. (Really must get some more iron tonic, for Christmas stamina.)
The Pigeon, having an awful lot of fun with a very big stick:
And showing off the famous velvety ears:
And the hill, wreathed in atmospheric mist: