Everyone loves a Christmas samba...
22.12.2016 - 27.12.2016 13 °C
As we stood at the Menston train station waiting for our taxi to arrive, we noticed a couple checking the bus timetable. When a bus to Leeds arrived, they asked the driver when the next bus to Otley was - but of course the driver didn't know. So for our good deed of the day, we offered for them to share our taxi to Otley. This worked in our favour, because when the taxi driver arrived, he didn't actually know how to get to Otley. So our new friends directed him to the main street, then got out and gave us half the fare before wishing us a merry Christmas. Wonderful. We settled back into The Oval and caught up on the events of the past two weeks or so, before retiring to the Buccheri Suite (complete with door-like-product).
The eve of Christmas Eve was spent doing all the essential things - shopping, cooking, cleaning, and catching up on Strictly Come Dancing. And once all that was out of the way, the poker set came out and so did the gin. Never too early to get into the Christmas spirits.
Christmas Eve saw the Christmas jumpers come out, and between us all we managed to feed and entertain about 30 people. Stress levels were kept to an absolute minimum using the Danny Mac Samba Stress Elimination Strategy, and we put on quite the spread. The slow cooked pulled pork made the house smell amazing, the Mary Berry mini beef wellingtons were a hit and the zucchini slice was a success once it was translated to courgette slice. The pigs were in filo sleeping bags, and there were pudding options of all shapes and sizes. The Big Fat Lanky Christmas Quiz kept us all entertained and ended in triumph for the Back Room Team on account of our superior musical knowledge. Part 1 of Christmas: complete.
Finally, Christmas morning arrived. Rosie was up at the relatively civilised time of 6.45am and we were all excited to find that Santa had visited and filled our stockings (as well as eating his fruit pie and drinking his sherry). Rosie learned the art of present-opening, but it was a toss up as to who was the most excited - Rosie with her kitchen, or Simon with his Corangamite Shire bucket hat. Ah, the magic of Christmas. And the buck's fizz breakfast only contributed to the magic.
We stopped in at Ian and Sue's for a spot of Christmas cheer (and birthday cheer for Sophie) before continuing on to the Thornton house for the official Christmas shenanigans. Delicious lunch, followed by the Strictly Christmas special (terribly generous scoring, if you ask me), and then the usual - horse races, team percussioning, transformers, reviving long lost recorder skills, Taboo, Don't Show Keith Your Teeth, and, of course, our very own Strictly Come Christmas competition. I'm proud to report that Simon and I made it to the final with our Australian Smooth routine, but were defeated by Sam and Natalie with their excellent lifts. And while there was no snow to be seen - sunshine and 13 degrees - it was a jolly good northern hemisphere Christmas. Ten out of ten.
Boxing Day took longer to start for some than others (not looking at any one in particular... Simon), and once we were all up and functioning again, we headed north to Barlick for a big spread with James and Annice, and Ian and the kids. Gold star for the Yorkshire puds - even if they were made in Lancashire...
We found out the hard way that Rosie was most definitely NOT a fan of the Pieface game - I was the first to fall victim to the cream splatting machine, and this distressed the littlest Lancashire greatly. We also played the less messy games of Camel Cup and Catan, and then when our heads got too sore from predicting and strategising we retired to watch Groundhog Day. Tough day, but we soldiered on.
Andy somehow managed to pack everything back into the car again and we returned to Otley for some walking on the Chevin. Rosie enjoyed dog spotting while we enjoyed the views over the valley, and we finished at the pub at the top with a beer to celebrate the Chevinth day of Christmas. And as the sun set over the town of Otley, we felt very grateful indeed to have been temporarily adopted into the Thornshire family for the year. English Christmas? Nailed it.