17 December 1999


EVERY year around September I have a dream, its always similar and its

suddenly apparent that its Christmas this week and I havent started my cards yet. I wake up in a panic then realise its still only September – now what does that tell you about me?

I am a Christmas person, I love it, Im a sucker for fairy lights and all that sparkles (panic included).

Our preparations started early this year, on holiday in fact when, on one bright early Monday morning Tim, Abi, Beth and I walked across the Pont Valentré at Cahors, on the river Lot. It was 8 oclock in the morning but the wine merchant was open, so we bought some red wine to put by for Christmas. Further down in the Pyrenees Tim found some oak matured Corbiéres, and thats stashed away too. The white is now taken care of (well the sparkly side of it). The local Lions club have had an offer on champagne with a specially designed 2000 label (how corny, but you have to go for it dont you).

A few weeks ago we had a memorable weekend in Vouvray – home of the champagne-like Chantepleure. Tim is a member of the Confrerie of Livarot and as such we are able to visit other Confreries when they have their food or wine appreciation meal. It was an all day affair including an "appreciative" church service followed by us all parading through town in our regalia. Livarots garbe is a long calf-scour-brown velvet coat and satin cape, and Tim has a Livarot cheese-looking hat to wear. The bakers have a lovely cream and gold outfit, gold to represent the crust, cream for the soft white middle of bread, and a brown feathered hat to represent the ovens flames. The rest of the day was punctuated by aperitifs (Bernache – the first fermentation of the wine) a meal (all afternoon) and a tasting visit to a nearby cave at midnight.

The turkey is being reared by friends who have a chicken and turkey farm not far away. Itll be well cooked, we like our meat that way being typically British. Its like one of my students reflected the other day when we were discussing the beef issue and I couldnt believe what I was hearing. Of course its a well known fact that we British always overcook our meat, the French have never understood why, they like it rare, but now, seeing all the problems weve had it makes it easier to understand! The speaker then went on to contradict their own theory by adding that they do like to cook their pork well however!

So, as we wine and dine this Christmas we will have some very interesting memories to reflect on.

Merry Christmas and a very special New Year to everyone.

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