Happy New Year’s Eve, lovers! It’s 7:47am and the baby and I have been up, skyped my mum and dad, discussed financial planning, ate bacon, pulled the little wool bundles that accumulate every day off the new rug, rescued a baby’s little finger from an uncompromising door, drank two cups of coffee, eaten one nutella croissant and cuddled a dog. It’s going to be a good year, I can tell.
We’ve spent another Christmas week in Devon, this time in Tavistock in a farm cottage with a shared indoor heated pool and a jacuzzi. I love a communal swimming situation, especially when the weather is wet and blustery and you have six boys to entertain. I don’t really swim as such, more experiment with the exciting combination of various old bikinis and, this year, my Juicy Couture charity shop tracksuit, in a kind of early-supermarket-shop/glamorous Mediterranean holiday sartorial mashup. I like to keep the Devon locals on their toes. What will she wear today, on her way from the muddy communal washing machine shed, over the gravel path and into the steaming chloriney slightly mouldering swimming pool house? Diamante-encrusted velour trackpants, one size too small, with a baggy four year old mismatching bikini top with the elastic all gone? Why, yes. I was also lucky enough to have a guilty husband who felt like showering me with Devonshire gifts owing to his own giddy overspending a few weeks before, and so for Christmas, I was gifted not one but TWO vintage cocktail rings which of course went very well with the swimming pool costuming.
Unfortunately, my hands are not only full of unsightly dermatitis, but they are also sadly very old. It does help me cultivate my Grey Gardens mad old lady vibe, with my massive knuckles and increasing crepey skin, shining with oversized semi precious jewels. Just look!
Aren’t they lovely? Once I get them resized to ‘Massive’, I will wear them every day, even if small babies and biggish boys get a little scratched by them on occasion. It’s what they call collateral damage, no? It’s all a trick of the eye – the older I get, the bigger I am, the more enormous and sparkling and oversized my things will become. This clever eye jiggery pokery could well convince the casual observer that I am tiny and about 26, if the mad old lady thing doesn’t fly.
Here we are a few days before Christmas, getting very cold on Bude beach:
Here is Casper going on a jog with me down a little bridle path:
And this is Christmas Eve. We ate a duck (I don’t love a duck, but it feels festive and Mark insists) and everyone enjoyed it except for Barnaby who was a bit cranky about the over salted roast potatoes. That there, those six different faces, assorted orthodontic work, hand-me-down-through-all-of-them clothes, floppy fringes in desperate need of cutting, surging hormones and varying appetites and oversensitive palates, is the sum total of fifteen years worth of human manufacturing. It sometimes takes my breath away.
The kids wrote Christmas present wish lists which were refreshingly modest, thank goodness, and top of Otis’s was a microphone. I can’t begin to tell you how much we now hate that microphone:
The other highlights from our week away were food related, as per. We found a farmshop which made us all happy – the kids were extremely excited by the fresh orange juice machine while I was partial to the bulk buy chocolate brazil nuts. We bought all of the scotch eggs from the deli which, on our second visit, the deli lady told me off for (“Next time, please call ahead and order your eight scotch eggs for your obviously very large family, otherwise our other customers will be disappointed”) and made our way through about 12 packets of delicious bacon. The kind of bacon which makes you realise you haven’t had proper bacon for a very long time…all non-watery and deliciously fattened and crusty on the rind. Mark got excited about the flavoured rum and we all went mad for the scones and clotted cream.
The TV wasn’t really working well, so that was a shame because I was expecting our week in Devon to be sleep-ins, followed by swimming (or fancy swim-costuming), followed by a bacon-y lunch, followed by a shopping trip to the massive Tescos for more prosecco/baby grows for about a pound/more clotted cream, followed by another swim and then some sort of seasonal Christmas movie. Instead, our evenings were spent watching documentaries about the Moroccan desert and episodes of Dragon’s Den.
We got home after a broken down truck/rental van situation and nine hours on the road to my other extra Christmas present surprise (which wasn’t a surprise at all because I bought it myself because I still have a lot of catching up to do after Mark’s exorbitant overspend). It is this – a vintage 1977 (my birth year, no less) Chanel bag from the most marvellous eBay, bought from a woman who purchased it in a vintage store in Paris who in turn got it from an old lady who has clearly looked after it very well. It has gold plated hardware and an inner pocket for love letters. I don’t actually have any love letters, so I put my Gail’s bakery loyalty card in there instead. It is so lovely that I have finally forgiven Mark for his terribly advised overspend (have I made the anguish over the overspend clear enough, Dear Readers?). Behold:
Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s to healthy family members and holidays and budgeting and good haircuts and regular exercise and cutting back the salt and less prosecco and more girlfriends and less hormonal rages and better sleep and love and pub quiz domination!