F and I had another great Christmas Day, at the home of V, S, E & S in Edinburgh. We drove up the previous day, stopping off at W&G’s home in Newton-Le-Willows, where we had a very enjoyable dinner and Graham and I met for the first time. The journey to N-L-W took longer than it ought to have done: there was a lot of congestion en route as, presumably, people finished their last minute shopping.
On Christmas Day morning, by arrangement, E&S came into our room after a “decent” time had elapsed from when they had first woken up to open their stockings. That it was 5:15a when they came in told all that was necessary about their waking time, which we later established was around 4a! We were shown all of their stocking presents, and opened ours amidst considerable excitement and hilarity. Then it was downstairs to the drawing room, with Mum and Dad, to open the main presents. Somehow the age of austerity hadn’t made it to St Colme Street this year, and the pile of wrapping paper soon became mountainous.
F’s main present to me, of which more in subsequent posts no doubt, was three pieces of Netsuke along with two books on the subject. She had gone to considerable lengths to acquire these, having started at the V&A where she had remembered us visiting the small display of pieces they have their, had then been directed to the British Museum and finally ended up at a dealer in Mayfair, via a Netsuke expert in the USA! I was hugely touched by both the thoughtfulness and the effort that had gone into this gift, which now officially marks the first three pieces in my collection. Antiques Roadshow researchers in the next 100+ years please note that this is to be taken as part of the provenance of these particular pieces! It is more formally supplemented by an “actual” piece of provenance, a statement as to the origin of the pieces actually provided by the dealer from whom F purchased.
We had roast rib of beef for lunch, preceded by canapés consisting of blini with caviare and soured cream, washed down with Moët. Since we had already cleared one bottle of Moët along with our delicious scrambled egg and smoked salmon breakfast, that marked the second victim of the day. The beef went well with two bottles of Pauillac, which also accompanied the cheese1 that we had before F’s Christmas pudding. We trod the traditional path with that by flaming it with brandy at the table, and it was delicious. Somehow I, but not the others, managed to miss my serving of the equally traditional Christmas trifle. Therefore some catching up to do today, Boxing Day!
We took a small break in between main course and cheese/dessert by playing the elf racing game that had come with the crackers. This has been, it seems, a traditional activity in F’s household over the years, and led to much hilarity as certain elves declined to take a straight path along the racetrack and seemed determined to nudge others off.
The evening ended with what for all but F was a reprise of Skyfall and for her was a premiere. A glass of Port Ellen Islay malt made the perfect accompaniment to the evening’s entertainment, before we all retired for the night, full and happy.
Another memorable Christmas.
1. Stichelton, Montgomery Cheddar and Tunworth for the record, from Neal’s Yard Dairy in Borough Market. The cheese had accompanied us in the cabin of the car all the way from London, providing a somewhat pungent olfactory dimension to the trip.↩