Monday, December 29, 2014

Tis the season

The weather people were gloating that 2014 was so warm that the temperature hadn't gone below zero all year in Paris. Well, too soon. It is below freezing at least once. I'm writing late in the morning and the frost is still on the ground and cars. It's beautiful out; the sun is shining. We haven't had snow in the Paris area, but the mountains finally did get some, which created massive traffic jams on the way to the ski resorts. Even the Auvergne resorts finally got snow.
We had a wonderful week in Duston celebrating with the entire Lebelle-Husaunndee families. It was a houseful of exited children, exhausted parents, and happy grandparents. We came home with colds; mine is just starting today with the scratchy throat. I'm going to stay warm in bed and sort out the photos.
While in England, Claire treated us to an evening of theater in London! It was a combination birthday/Christmas gift of "The Play that Goes Wrong" -- a good laugh! A friend from the American Library in Paris had recommended it to me months ago and I had sent on the recommendation to Claire. In fact, I thought it had already closed. Thank goodness it hadn't. It's not the kind of play that makes you think hard; it's just for fun, so it was perfect for a girls night out. (A review) We got to London early enough to have something to eat before the play, which was the right thing to do because we then managed to get the train back to Northampton that got us home before by midnight!
Monday, the contingent from Paris arrived. Wednesday, we celebrated Paul's birthday at the pub in Harlestone -- an excellent Christmas Eve luncheon -- before the Woking set arrived, while some of us attended the Christingle service at the St. Crispen's church near the house. We had a finger food buffet for dinner. Once the children were all in bed, we went off to the nearby pub/hotel while others went off to the midnight service at St. Luke's. 
The children were very patient the next morning playing with whatever was in the stockings and waiting for the go-ahead to open the presents under the tree. Once that got underway, though, it was a frenzy of unwrapping. They all seemed very happy with their gifts. The highlight was an especially big gift for all but the babies -- a big bike, an electric scooter, pedal cars, a digger/backhoe! The babies got stuffed toys, dolls, and more cuddly things. 
We had Cuban-style roast pork for lunch, using that wonderful recipe from the New York Times, that Louette saved many, many years ago. Even though I have found the link, I think I still have the original clipped article somewhere. Since there were 12 adults and 5 children (not counting the 2 babies), the roast was enormous and there was some question as to when we should start cooking and for how long. It had been marinating since Tuesday, noon! We ended up starting the night before in a very hot oven for about 20 minutes and then let it cook in a very slow oven. When Geoff got up in the morning, he checked the meat temperature and it was done, so he wrapped it in foil and kept it warm. He reheated it a bit before serving for lunch. It was perfect.
After lunch, Nigel presented the adults with their treat, a Christmas themed jigsaw puzzle! The difficulty was in figuring out what it should look like since the puzzle was the view of the room from the perspective of one of the people in the picture on the box -- not the picture itself. I worked at it at the beginning, but couldn't concentrate. Those who stuck to it managed to finish it just in time to watch the Downton Abbey Christmas program. After that, we went back to the hotel for a good night's sleep, except our door key was demagnitized and I set off the alarm when I went into the reception area. I ended up calling the emergency number on the card, waking up the manager, and waiting for her to come to reset the key. After that, we got a our well-merited sleep.
The Lebelles left after a light lunch of soup and sandwiches on Boxing Day, while the Husaunndees stayed on for a couple of days more. Claire drove the Parisians to the airport while we drove back. We got an earlier shuttle than we had reserved, so we got home quite a bit earlier. 
The next day, we all reunited in Paris to distribute the gifts Santa had left here! 
I believe we are going to have a very quiet New Year's Eve.

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