Christmas treats: From Trivial Pursuit to sprouts

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Tuesday 29th December 2015

IMG_2196Christmas 2015 flew by in a blast of last-minute dashes to the shops, family festivities and storms that lashed our house near the sea. Four days on, our family guests have departed, my son’s resumed his cycling regime and my husband’s working 16 hours a day on his latest business venture. As for me, I’ve been mulling over the standout memories from this year’s Christmas. In no particular order, here are some of them:

Feeling sad for the communities that have been ravaged by floods. The pictures of York, with its historic streets waist-high in water, are truly shocking. The King’s Arms, a favourite haunt of mine when I was a York student, has always been known as “the pub that floods,” but this was on another scale entirely. While the rest of us were enjoying Christmas, people across the north of England were coping with a deluge. In the city of York alone 250 people were evacuated from their homes and military personnel, mountain rescue teams and volunteers valiantly battled to rescue flood victims and distribute sandbags.

Playing Trivial Pursuit. On Christmas night my nephew suggested a quiz so my son dusted off a 1980s version of the famous game and persuaded all of us to join in. Within minutes young and old were immersed in the game. We were so transfixed that we played five games in three days. Along the way I learned that dragonflies eat mosquitos, that San Salvador is the capital of El Salvador and that Catherine the Great died while she was sitting on the loo. Is that really true?

Cooking sprouts. After years of serving up mushy sprouts or rock hard bullets I finally won the sprouts battle. Anna Jones saved the day with her recipe for sprouts with sticky dates and sherry vinegar. They were simple to make, pretty to look at and tasted delicious.

Loving my new diary. My daughter knows how fussy I am about diaries (they have to be hard-backed, display a week across two pages, have plenty of room for notes and look gorgeous). She scoured London and bought me a gorgeous kikki.K 2016 diary. The only problem is that it’s so stylish I’m reluctant to mess it up by writing in it.

Walking at Studland beach. There’s nothing like a stroll along the seashore to lift the spirits. We went to Studland several times and the sight of crowds of walkers, scores of bouncy Labradors and waves that my son reckoned were “almost surfable” banished the post Christmas lull. As we turned and headed home one day we even saw a naturist emerging from the sea. Needless to say, he looked jolly cold.

Receiving a surprise present from my goddaughter. My son’s godmother Wendy once sat him down and explained that being a godmother wasn’t just about her sending him presents. “It’s a two-way thing,” she said. Even so, I was inordinately touched last year when my teenage goddaughter Maddie sent me a present and a chatty card out of the blue. This year she did the same again, along with a letter about her gymnastics successes and what she’s up to at school.

Listening to Benjamin Clementine. The very best thing about Christmas was being lucky enough to spend it with my family. But I drove them all crazy by playing Mercury Prize winner Benjamin Clementine’s album At Least for Now at full blast for hours on end. I love his music and I love the way he dedicated his award to Paris (where he lived for six years) and all those affected by the terror attacks in November.

Ditching the turkey on Christmas night. Every year I agonise over what size of turkey to order from M&S. Why? Because I want it to be big enough to feed everyone for Christmas lunch (eight this year), with enough left over to make turkey sandwiches in the evening. After that, forget boiling the bones to make soup or doing clever things with curry for Boxing Day. I never want to see the damn thing ever again.

4 comments so far

  • I relate to very much of this. To begin with the sad, my daughter was at York Uni and I loved going to stay there before Christmas each year. Shocking to see the state of the old town and so many families forced to leave their homes.

    As for games, we have had years of 80s Trivial Pursuit alongside numerous quizzes. This year we went crazy and bought an up-to-date edition of the game. Hugely welcomed by our children who weren’t even born when the old version was created.
    As for diaries…..Every year I mortgage my soul for a Smythson Fashion Diary. I care nothing for the fashion-related shopping guff at the beginning but I can’t live without its week per page PLUS note space, and reams of space for notes at the end. Check it out, but be warned, you won’t turn back…
    You were not the only one who rediscovered sprouts this winter. Roll on the baked and pan-fried sprout we all learned about for the first time.
    Looking ahead to New Year, I cam’t resist resolutions but invariably I forget or break them by the end of the first week. This year I intend to follow the shape of ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin. She chooses one area of her life that needs improving and works on that and that alone for one month. 12 resolutions a year sounds hard but the monthly turnover keeps the intention fresh and challenging. Well that’s what I’m planning anyhow….

  • Thank you so much, Patricia and Debbie, for your lovely comments. I’m glad I’m not the only one to discover (at my ancient age) how to cook delicious sprouts! I’d love to know which new edition of Trivial pursuit you bought, Patricia. I want to buy one but haven’t a clue which to choose!

  • Hah! I know what you mean re editions. There are a dazzling number of variations. I am afraid we did no research at all and picked up the Master Edition (says it is for 16 and over) with £11 off at W H Smith. All I can say is that it seems just about right for us : in equal measure challenging and achievable. By no means a pushover – I’d say a fair bit harder than our original 80s one, but we get there, although the four out of 6 at the end are really hard if people play solo. But TP is born for teams containing a spread of knowledge backgrounds I think.

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