After the funeral I spent a further 3 weeks in the UK. I took a trip with my Sister to Bath and Wales to stay in a beautiful Village with an unpronounceable name, caught up with some child hood friends in Leister
Baths at Bath and a highly instructional Welsh sign post
But my siblings, our spouses and children all got together after the funeral. 16 of in total, including 6 children between 5 and 12, what could possibly go wrong!! If you ignore the ongoing child warfare all went well, no stiches, no broken limbs, no crashed cars and only a modicum of blood was split.
We spent the two weeks in the Thiefhole cottages, we stayed in the Millington house and Turpin cottage. The house and cottage were both very well turned out, they were fitted out with all the requisite furnishings and kitchen ware to allow us to cater and serve Christmas dinner with ease and comfort. As usual the kitchen knives were blunt mutter, mutter, mutter, as far as I can remember I have never stayed in a rental apartment, cottage or house with sharp Kitchen knives, maybe I am a bit OCD about them.
One of the highlights of the stay was drinking Dad’s Cellar, Dad was fond of his wine and kept a good stock of Port, Burgundy and Bordeaux along with an assortment of other bits and bobs. My brother and I did a very careful inspection of the contents of the cellar, looking at one bottle of each type and considering what the likely characteristics of each were likely to be and what food they would probably suit. So after much deliberation and discussion we concluded we knew stuff all and just started with the oldest of each type. As it happens that appeared to be a good tactic we drank some delicious wine over the two weeks. The two outstanding wines were a 1963 bottle of Martinez Port, although it was 54 years old it still good, it had retained a surprising intensity of flavour, with a golden red colour, and a bottle of 1998 Cateau Haut-Brisson, which is a Grand-Cru from Saint-Emillon in Bordeaux.
As is expected Christmas dinner was a highlight, it had input and dishes from at least five cooks from three continents, to make sure that things ran smoothly I stayed as far away as possible from the kitchen. My sole responsibility was to ensure an even flow of bubbles to those working in the kitchen.
Christmas tree and the boys horns with port
After lunch it was time for us to open our presents, as is tradition in our family, the aim is more amusing rather than practical. Hence the boys ended up with horns!!!
The final highlight was fireworks!! As my brother so eloquently put in his part of the eulogy Dad “loved blowing shit up” so in his honour we though we would let off some fire works on boxing day. In the UK fireworks go on sale on Boxing day for New Years day, so my brother, sister and I headed to town early Boxing Day morning to ensure that we didn’t miss out on the best goodies. The agreed plan was we were going to buy just one box of fireworks, some how by the time we finished, there was rather more than that and a few spare rockets to boot (and a random hello kitty lunch box). All the kids were very excited an impressed at the quantity of explosives that we had purchased, so to keep them in line we set them to work to dig all the holes that were required for the safe use of the fire works. Once this was done there was an impatient wait for dusk, for the kids because they wanted to let off the fireworks now and for me because we were having boxing day drinks and I wanted a drink but it was best that I remained sober until I had let off all the fireworks. The fire works were set off with the minimum of fuss and were enjoyed by all, I don’t know why but I still enjoy fireworks just as much as the kids !!!