Tuesday 5th January

Christmas was a lovely family affair, leisurely meals, long walks with the dogs on Tooting Bec Common and a glowing fire in the evenings.  We had some lovely couples staying with us who shopped until they dropped, grabbing bargains in the sales.  We also had a delightful man from Japan who went every day to see a play or a musical.  His two favourites were Beautiful (The Carole King Musical) and Bend it Like Beckham.

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I managed on Christmas morning before everyone got up to finish wrapping the Christmas cakes, dip the orange peel in chocolate, bottle up the liqueurs (Apricot & Limoncello) and Zuzana brought round the Christmas cookies which were heaven on a plate.

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I spent the night before new year’s eve with guests sitting in the kitchen watching me make giant sausage rolls that looked like French baguettes.  And two types of cakes  – a coffee & banana and an old fashioned ginger cake, which I served at breakfast the following morning to the delighted of our guests.  I have enjoyed over the years having guests sitting in the kitchen whilst I cook, as I love sharing some of my favourite recipes.  They tried a few of my homemade liqueurs and the Apricot one came out on tops – so if you do get the time, do give it a try and let me know what you think.

New Year’s eve was quite a noisy event in the street with fireworks going off from around 10 pm.  My dogs were not happy and I was glad I took the decision to keep them company.

It was a slow start on the 1st January and most of the guests didn’t leave until around lunch time to head into the centre of London.  I didn’t mind as I had not planned much except to go for a long walk with the dogs, and I took my mobile out with me that has a new app on it that tells me how many steps I have done. I was quite pleased to see that I had clocked  up around 9,500.  My aim is to do 10,000 at least 3 times a week – my 2016 resolution!  Watch this space………

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The second day into 2016 I had two wonderful surprises, a guest who had first come to stay more than 20 years ago, decided to fly to London, and as a surprise come to see me. We planned to spend the next day together, even the rain did not dampen our mood and we spent time visiting old haunts, taking in a gallery, wandering round Dulwich and having a beer in a gastro pub before cooking a curry back at Parklands.

Later that same evening the phone rang just as we all sat down to dinner, it turned out to be Sarah-Jane who I had also not seen for years! She was in the area as her daughter was attending a party close by and asked if it was okay to pop in for a coffee for a couple of hours.  Her mother used to teach my two boys to swim, and in the late 90’s, she used to come over for dinner when I had students staying. It was such a randomly wonderful start to the year to see two old faces in such a short space of time.

After the obligatory catch-up chit chat, we ended up reminiscing about all the guests that had stayed over the years and the funny things that had happened, as well as the wonderful singing that took place (Sarah-Jane has a beautiful voice) around the kitchen table at Christmas with Pat our handyman at the head of the table.

By the 4th of January, 2016 had already been full of surprises, laughter and the unexpected. Keeping up my new year resolution, I walked today over 13,000 steps with my cousin who is on a flying visit to London and we all went out to our favourite Italian ‘La Cantinella’ for supper.  Walking back from the restaurant last night the streets had many Christmas trees waiting to be collected in the morning and I guess it’s time to take the wreath off the front door for another year.  It was a nice balance this Christmas of work, family and seeing friends which had left me feeling calm and ready for the year ahead. But I have to admit I am ready to get back into my routine of blogging and posting on Simply!

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