The day started in Shropshire at Celia and Ron's house just outside Market Drayton. We attempted to make blueberry pancakes for breakfast, which Meriel, Celia and I managed to entirely destroy! Nathan tweeted a series of photographs as the situation descended into complete mayhem and the kitchen filled with smoke. The last picture was of a rather sad pile of charcoal sitting in a frying pan!
We travelled to Wales and arrived at Nathan's sister's house in Penley just before noon. There were fifteen of us at one point; my Mum and Dad, Brother Edward, Sam's lot, Meriel, Celia, Ron and various boyfriends, girlfriends and associated children.
We toasted absent friends and families across the world at 3pm in front of the Queen's Speech, which is a tradition Nathan's family have always upheld. I toasted Billy Whitelaw with my wine glass with the pretty on it.
We went for a walk down the hill into the countryside outside Penley, and sat on the little bridge where Wales becomes England, looking up at what Sam's daughter Jennie describes as the best sledging hill in carnation.
We ate a dinner with plates and plates of wonderful-coloured vegetables. It was like a rainbow on a plate. Purple cabbage, orange carrots, golden parsnips, yellow sweetcorn, bright green Brussels and every colour of every vegetable in between.
Meriel brought Christmas crackers filled with miniature (slightly out of) tuned whistles on which we played simple melodies, like The First Nowell, one note at a time.
There were indoor sparklers after lunch and we discovered it was possible to use a slow shutter speed to take photographs of people spelling out words, which we then realised we could do with considerably less effort on iPhone torches. Lovely little words like "happy" and "Xmas" became incredibly rude words with exclamation marks attached!
We played games in the evening with pens and pieces of paper. It felt so special to have everyone together; four generations of an extended family of misfits all together. Meriel is definitely a keeper. We're going to try and encourage her to become an honorary aunt!
We're thrilled to note that we've become a question in the Guardian newspaper's quiz of the year. Question 20; "what did Nathan Taylor and Benjamin Till celebrate in musical form last April?" Obviously they meant March, but it's nice to be mentioned! I've never been the answer to a quiz question before. Actually, that's a lie. Whilst I was dating the MP Stephen Twigg, director Stephen Daldry asked a question about me at the Royal Court Theatre Christmas Party quiz.
The two sets of parents and Edward left at about 8, and we played another game, ate large quantities of cheese (and scored each block out of ten) and then settled down for a night of chatting, knitting and winding down.