We're watching Downton Abbey at the end of a rather charming Christmas Day. It seems really very weird to be watching the final episode of a show which has been in our lives for so long. It feels like the programme has been running for far more than six years and when a show goes out at the top of its game, it always feels a bit of a wrench to lose it. ITV must be desperate to find an alternative.
We've been in Thaxted all day, sitting by an open fire, eating copious quantities of grub and opening lots of presents.
I've done very well on the gift front. Fiona gave me a wooden piano stool in the shape of an elephant and (incredibly excitingly) Nathan bought tickets for us to see the Electric Light Orchestra at the O2! ELO was a childhood obsession which became almost fanatical as a teenager and has lived in my back pocket ever since. I am so profoundly excited.
Lunch was brilliant. I have no idea how my Mum managed to prepare and cook so much delicious food. I did the potatoes and the gravy. I did well, although Fiona posted a picture on Facebook of her cooking a Christmas dinner with a full 1950s chignon without a bead of sweat on her forehead, which made me feel somewhat inadequate in my brown smock!
I was also in charge of lighting the Christmas pudding and managed to create a flame which was four feet tall, and set fire to the table cloth! The near disaster was all captured in photographs. I think next time I might try a little less brandy!
It was such a treat to have Tina with us all day. She and Nathan have been knitting all day and she's been a lovely addition to the family particularly in a year when Brother Edward is absent. I think in my life I've only spent two, maybe three, Christmases without him and his presence was greatly missed.
After lunch I spent some time sticking photographs of this year into an album, starting with shots from last Christmas and working sequentially, only choosing my very favourite pictures. It's been a good year: a year, perhaps, of consolidation rather than charging forward, but we've been on some wonderful trips and won some prestigious awards. I wasn't a BAFTA-nominee this time last year, that's for certain! Looking through the pictures was a lot of fun, although I'm going to need another album because I've managed to fill an entire book without getting beyond September!
We went to see Stuart and Sally and their two kids in the evening. They're very close friends of my parents who have become good friends of ours as a result of being on various quiz teams together. They actually met whilst working at my Dad's school when he was a headmaster and I think their kids see my parents as unofficial grandparents and vice versa. It's a pleasure to see them all together. Life is about the creation of these unorthodox families.
They live in a very quirky, ancient house opposite the church in Thaxted, which is incredibly homely. We sat around the wood-burning stove playing parlour games and eating yet more food. Tina and Nathan continued to knit whilst Sally crocheted a blanket. At one point Nathan showed her how to "spit splice" yarn with a knot in it. It's like a curious form of alchemy which involves flobbing on two ends of a piece of wool and rubbing them manically on a thigh to join them together. I can't begin to imagine how it works!