Happy New year to all those out there who do or do not read this blog. My son noticed a new trend on Facebook over the New Year - not the usual high spirited 'Happy N Y' messages but more in the lines of: '2013 was a cr*p year. Let's hope 2014 is an improvement.' For young people people times are definitely hard, and, as the number of folk needing food banks testify, it's getting harder right across the age-and-socio-economic spectrum. Sad. Also deeply frustrating. If Alex Salmond gets his way and Scotland becomes independent it will be the fault of certain MP's in Westminster who don't seem to care. There now, I have just broken my big New Year Resolution not to speak my opinions aloud!! 48 hours that one lasted. Well done Carol.
The really good news is that Dizzy dog is back with us. Her owners left at 5am in the morning of New Year's Day, arriving here in time for lunch. Dizzy was loud in her insistence that duck is just what a convalescent needs to build her up again. She looks like a thestral (for literary reference see Harry Potter: 'The Order of the Phoenix') or, as granddad said, she could be marketed for a supermodel. She is skeletal, but in good voice and almost back to her cheeky self with an amazingly neat scar right down her midriff and no need to ever have to worry about bringing up a family.
I was proud of the meal I cooked for us: choux pastry balls (so easy) stuffed with Boursin and smoked salmon, or Stilton and pear, laid neatly out with watercress and pickled pepper. A 'palate cleanser' (not to be outdone by the hotel restaurant) of raspberry, blueberry and jasmine tea; duck over apple and orange slices with roasted sweet potato, shallots and aubergine, celeriac puree and roast pots. Inevitably this was followed by Christmas pudding because we didn't eat it at Christmas and everyone likes it. Followed by collapse of chef into chair and reviving coffee made by daughter.
No photos. I haven't cooked a large complex meal for so long I was too obsessively nervous about timings to think of finding the camera.
Once more the traditions have been observed, with some new ones coined, like eating one's Boeuf Wellington off the kitchen floor. A good friend who likes a drink or two, or three, invited me to lunch Boxing Day. She bought everything from Mr. Marks and Sparks for ease, and to facilitate her drinking down a rather good red, but the red wanted more attention than she was able to give it so got its own back by causing her to misplace the tray containing the cooked Wellington. It tipped off the work surface, landing with a splat and a wail of horror. I'm not fussy. We scooped it up, ate it with no ill effects, and her dog cleaned up the extra left on the floor.
Yesterday I had a quiet drink with another friend in the only hostelry open in town, Gaelic coffee for me, beer for him. We got quite giggly and told silly stories of bye-gone times. His included the sad tale of his grandfather who committed suicide when he realised his golfing days were at an end. At 96 you'd think he could just have sat around and waited!
Sanders got my Angel from last year - Power. She served me well so I was pleased for him. I got a puzzle: 'Birth.' Huh? Daughter got 'Peace' and 'Joy' (felt moved to choose two) and granddad got 'Surrender' which he took with a slightly raised eyebrow. It's just a game but can have an appreciable effect on the psyche. My first email of the NY was a kindly rejection from a poetry magazine, the editor saying she 'wasn't quite sure enough' about the poems I had submitted. I thought it was a Bad Omen, but as I had already decided my ambition lies more in the field of fiction perhaps I can take it as a Sign instead!