Merry Christmas everyone.

                                                    The Mercia Marina Ukulele club.

I can confidently report that we have now completed all of our Christmas preparations. Aside from the fresh produce, which is such a pain. Having avoided all of the last minute shoppers, we still need to venture out for the fresh meat and vegetables, along with everyone else. Yes, I have considered ordering on line and having it delivered.

I don’t know about other obsessives like me, but I just feel the need, to check out the freshness of the sprouts and the crispness of the red cabbage. I won’t even begin to explain the rigorous tests I go through, to check out the meats and fish. So I’m afraid, an on-line shop is not an option for me, just yet. That’s not to say that things won’t change.

I do have a little help with choosing my Christmas fare. I am a subscriber to The Good Housekeeping Magazine. Their team of experts, do all of the work for me, having rigorously tested many of the products.

Enough about my shopping habits. As I said, most of the work is done. With this in mind, my husband and I decided to go to our ‘cottage in the country’. Most of you will know from previous posts that I refer to our canal boat. As expected, due to the temperature in our region being below zero; the canal was frozen. Can you imagine how cold our boat was? Correct. It was chilly to say the least. I quickly lit the wood burner stove and waited. Five hours later, after many logs had burned through; the boat was warm enough to bank up the fire with coal. Satisfied that we could leave the boat and return to a warmer environment than earlier in the day. We walked into the village of Willington. The frost was already settling and a cold mist falling. Wrapped up warmly in our best thermals, we set off on the fifteen minute walk, to The Dragon Pub/restaurant in Willington. To say that it was fresh, is an understatement. However, it was all worth it, as once again we enjoyed good food and hospitality.

The following morning, we visited the Christmas Market on our marina, Mercia Marina. Although cold and raining; along with other die hard’s we checked out the market stalls. As usual, the makers market was full of interesting homemade crafts. Feeling festive, I purchased an individual rabbit pie, my husband chose a venison and wild boar pie. No traditional Sunday dinner on the boat later, just pie, peas and jacket potatoes. The Mercia boater’s ukulele club gave a brilliant performance of traditional and popular Christmas songs. Well done. I’m proud of you all.

In the afternoon, despite the rain, we used our National trust membership and visited Calke Abbey. This is located near Ticknall in Derbyshire. Unlike many country houses. Calke Abbey has not been restored. In some corners there is grandeur; in others peeling paintwork. Apparently, The Harpur Crewe family, reclusive and private, kept the Abbey and its park, hidden away until handed to The National Trust in 1985. It was well worth a visit, made all the more special, when hungry and cold, we sat outside in the stable yard (I felt as though I was on the set of a Charles Dickens production) and enjoyed the most delicious Venison Burger. Apparently, from the local deer that roam the Park.

We returned to a warm boat, grateful indeed that we were born in the twentieth century, despite the fact that every Christmas we are surrounded by Victorian images.

    Happy New Year everyone. x


                                                                   Christmas at Calke Abbey.