So on Christmas Eve, Julia and I went off to her father's house, the one he moved into just a few weeks ago. There was some sorting-out to do for the following day, and then he and I went off to
[ Julia's father has three children -- he delegated anything to do with desserts to his other daughter and his son-in-law; anything to do with vegetables to his son and daughter-in-law; anything to do with meat to Julia and I; and he took charge of venue and alcohol himself. ]
On Christmas morning the others arrived with their respective families, bringing the gathering up to twelve in number, and bearing their respective contributions. All was assembled, and Christmas Dinner was had at more-or-less lunchtime. Red wine was spilt on the (formerly) white carpet. Presents were given and received. TV was watched, including the first half of Doctor Who. A family photograph was taken, but we have yet to see the results. Further huge quantities of food were consumed. At the end of the day the other families disappeared in their respective cars and we did a bit of clearing up.
On the following day, Julia's father loaded us up with leftovers and we toddled round the corner to exchange presents with some nearby friends, and then drove down to Julia's brother's place to deliver presents which couldn't fit in their car when they went home the previous night. More food was eaten, in both locations.
On Sunday, Julia and I went over to Reading in pursuit of my uncle, my cousins, their families, my mother and her boyfriend (two of whom are really one person, long story). Being clever people, we took some of Julia's father's left-over cheesecake with us, and we didn't have to take any leftovers with us when we left, which was a bit of a result. But we did have to eat startling quantities of food while we were there.
Monday involved a morning vegetating and digesting, and then in the late afternoon and evening there was a film (St Trinians II: Fritton's Gold) followed by pizza (at the Hut).
On Tuesday afternoon we were "at home", with a table full of nibbles and assorted visitors, some of whom stayed on for (or arrived in time for) a proper roast dinner in the evening with beef and everything, which was really jolly good. But this meant that the early part of the day was occupied with things like cleaning the kitchen, and trying to un-jam the dining table so that it could be extended. Once again we had far too much to eat, particularly since Sally brought along some of her left-over cheesecake. Oh dear.
Wednesday morning and early afternoon saw us clearing up, with lunch based on what was left from last night's meal, and then in the evening we went to see Sally again, to help her make some sort of progress through her other leftovers and to assist in demolishing the contents of her drinks cabinet. Honestly, we did our best, but Julia was driving and I'm only human so she still has lots of drink left.
Thursday, of course, was New Year's Eve. Following our now customary morning of assiduous lassitude, we accumulated a carrier bag full of cider and two more full of the inevitable leftovers (including what was left of Julia's father's Christmas cake and another cheesecake) and set out round the M25 to Max's NYE party. There were something like twenty people, and the LARPers outnumbered the SF fans by about two-to-one. There was a large table covered with sugar-based snacks, and another large table covered with alcohol. Pizza and garlic bread were provided. There was a chocolate fountain, a candy-floss machine, and a fairground grabber machine full of fun-sized chocolate bars. And Lara turned up with a few dozen packets of coloured sugar.
At about two minutes to midnight the two maddest members of the party set off the fireworks, in most cases by lighting one in their hand, and then rushing into the yard to set it down alongside one which was already going. Meanwhile us sensible types were indoors in the warm opening the champagne.
In due time the inflatable mattresses emerged (someone provided an electric pump) and we all retired for the night. It was something like 2am. Snorage on the first floor was provided by myself and Elvis -- I understand someone else was providing the same service upstairs. And in the morning there were croissants and bacon sandwiches.
Having enjoyed the M25 the previous afternoon, we returned home via Greenwich, Lambeth and Brentford. With no time for vegetating, we hurried across to Julia's sister to deliver the nephew's birthday presents. Afterwards we got home just too late to watch the second part of Doctor Who, so we had the tail end of Tremors 2 and the whole of Tremors 3 before watching The End Of Time Part Two on iPlayer.
Yesterday we braved the M25 once more (and the M23, A23 and A27) to chase yet more of my relatives, where there was even more food. Hurrah!
Today's a much quieter day -- we've explored the leak in my kitchen and been out to buy a new kitchen sink and taps. How exciting is that!