Thursday, 6 November 2008

Christmas Day Posh Picnics Past and Future

This post was blogged in November 2008 but published in February 2009 because I did not want to spoil our surprise of being featured in The Connexion newspaper.
Recently, that is, just after we returned from England, we were thrown down Memory Lane and prompted into thinking somewhat earlier than we would have liked about what we intend to do for Christmas! And it is only the start of November! We have already received one invitation to a lunch with a friend's family, and if I could I would escape to somewhere warm where I know no-one!

Here we reproduce some text scribed by us for a journalist, accompanied by some photos giving us this morning a hearty laugh about our previous picnics!

"In 1996 we met again having not seen each other for 25 years. At that time Edna's Uncle, (a former Mayor of Southwold) was still alive and living in the town. We went to visit him regularly and often walked around this beautiful seaside town. We had already discovered that we had many mutual interests one of which was the love of anything different and unusual. During our first year together we set up table and chairs in the middle of Southwold common and enjoyed a 4-course picnic which was equal to much that was on offer at the local restaurants. In December 2004 whilst walking the beaches of Southwold, we started to ponder what to do for Christmas. Remembering our picnic on the marshes, we decided to break with the English tradition of a "full roast" and instead come to Southwold for a posh picnic on the beach. The day was bright, sunny and very cold, but we decorated the table and chairs, set out our best cutlery and wine glasses, stuffed hot water bottles up our jumpers, and enjoyed splendid food much to the amusement of passers-by, many of whom asked to take pictures and lamented that they also would like to break away from tradition and "do something different" on this very traditional day.

When we moved to France in 2005, we decided to continue our tradition by a scenic lake near our home. We made a hay box to keep the food warm and at midday sat down with hot water bottles to a magnificent home-made 5-course spread. (You may have gathered that we are both devoted foodies!) The lake is at a hameau called St Sennery and it's history is quite fascinating because during WW2 it was on the line of demarcation and German soldiers, presumably bored with not much to do, painted two landscape pictures inside a small pagoda-like structure which sits on stilts in the middle of this lake. In 2007 when the lake was drained, David walked over the dried-out mud and took photos of these murals with their views of farmyards and fields which we guess reminded the soldiers of home.

We did not have a picnic in 2006 on account of already having eaten a traditional Christmas Eve Menu with our French neighbours which ended at 2.30 on Christmas Day morning, and also on account of freezing fog!

Read our previous entry for Christmas Day 2007 when we chose a different lake at Les Maillards. The water was frozen from a heavy frost the night before. Barbecue facilities enabled us to reheat courses. We were lucky with the weather and during the three hour feast we watched buzzards circling in the clear blue sky, and a coypu meandering across the lake.

Why do we do it?

a) our immediate family are in England
b) we don't have television preferring to make our own entertainment and fun
c) we prefer to avoid the razzamatazz of a commercial Christmas which suits our limited budget
d) we enjoy eating "al fresco" even in the depths of winter when the weather cannot be planned
e) we want to experience the unexpected and new challenges whilst we are still able to live life to the full and as "all the world is a stage" it allows our eccentricities to provide our play time.

So what do we intend to do this year?
We aim to have a Christmas Day Posh Picnic at Angles sur l'Anglin, one of Les plus beaux villages de France.

Our Christmas Day picnic lunch menu will be:

Apertifs with Crémant de Loire and home made canapés
Giant prawns with home made aioli with a home-made mousse de saumon
Gratin Dauphinois with seasonal vegetables
Strips of Fillet of beef laid over smouldering oak logs. (This will be an experiment adapted from a traditional Zimbabwe method!)
Brebis and Beaufort cheeses with a green salad
Christmas Pudding (I used to make my own but nothing can beat an M&S luxury vegetarian pudding )
Chocolates and Armagnac
Coffee followed by a very brisk walk!
Well when you read the report for Christmas Day 2008 you'll see we had some Menu changes just because we reckon the Beef needs a Sunny Day!

That's it! ça y est! The planning is done! Maybe at the end of 2008 or the beginning of 2009 we might be able to escape to a warmer place!

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