Since I last wrote to you, Mum and I have been busy getting ready for Christmas. We started by going out for lunch with our lovely friends from Red Bus Days Out, something we do every year. This time we went to the Cracoe Cafe, which – believe it or not! – is in the village of Cracoe in the Yorkshire Dales. (And Cracoe is next to the village of Rylstone where the ladies of the Women’s Institute made their famous fund-raising calendar, which went on to inspire a film and a musical.)
There was a good choice of meals, but Mum went for the traditional Christmas dinner, with turkey and stuffing, roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables. The menu said there were also pigs in blankets with this meal, but, although I looked very hard on Mum’s plate, I couldn’t see any pigs or any blankets. I did see some pork sausages rolled up in bacon, however, so perhaps they’d run out of pigs and blankets before we got there.
Mum then broke with tradition for the second course and, instead of ordering Christmas pudding, she went for the rhubarb pie with custard. She said that this was because she originally came from Morley which is in the heart of the Rhubarb Triangle and eating rhubarb pie made her feel quite nostalgic. I wanted to try some, but Mum said that, although this pie was cooked to perfection, rhubarb is quite tart and would make a little bear’s teeth curl up, so I decided not to try it after all.
Following the meal, we all got back on the bus and went for a fabulous drive through Linton-in-Craven, Burnsall and Barden Tower, then back to Skipton and home.
Back at home, Mum helped me trim up my den, ready for Christmas. We decorated the tree and put up the cards and I think it looks really pretty. My brothers Weg and Rupert are a bit jealous, however, as they’re both too big to get in there – and when I told them they could look through the window if they wanted to, they both growled at me, which I didn’t think was very Christmassy at all. In fact, I’d to tell them that they wouldn’t be able to come carol-singing with me if they didn’t stop growling and that seemed to shut them up.
For a few days after that, Mum was doing all the boring-but-necessary stuff, like cleaning and tidying up, cooking, shopping and washing, which I don’t really enjoy, but yesterday was different as we had a Big Day Out.
We caught a train to York (which is one of Mum’s favourite cities).
There we met up with an old friend for coffee at The Judge’s Lodgings, a beautiful old house which is now a hotel, with a bar and food.
We were having a good old chat and thinking of staying longer, but then the bar was invaded by a group of young men who were talking so loudly that we couldn’t hear ourselves speak. So we drank up and left to go look around the Christmas Market, where Mum could have spent a fortune on some of the lovely things that were on offer and I had to keep reminding her that she just didn’t have room for any more stuff in her house until she sorted some of the old stuff out.
Then we went to the Guy Fawkes Hotel for a late lunch. The food there is always good and yesterday was no exception. Mum started off with Guy Fawkes Money Bags, which were made of red onion and goat’s cheese, parcelled up in filo pastry and served with strips of honey-roasted figs. She followed that with chicken breast, roasted in butter, stuffed with black pudding and wrapped in bacon, with braised leeks, Duchess potatoes – which to me just looked like mashed potatoes, but a bit fancier! – and a gravy made with Madeira and onion. It looked delicious – and Mum said it was, but she ate so much that she’d no room left for a pud, which is very unusual for Mum!
As it started to get dark, we had another wander round, looking at all the lovely Christmas lights and the pretty shop windows.
After that, we had to go for the train back home. We expected it to be really crowded, but it wasn’t too bad and we easily got a seat. Then the guard came round and asked if we’d like to sing some Christmas songs. Everyone agreed and Christmas music started playing over his public address system. It included Fairytale Of New York and for once I could sing all the naughty words at the top of my voice and not get into trouble as they’re in the song. This put me in a singing mood – play the video to hear me sing – if you dare!
And now Christmas is almost here and, although it’s on December 25th every year, Mum never seems to be able to get everything done on time, no matter how hard she tries. She’s starting to feel better now the Winter Solstice has passed, however, and she knows that, after today, the sun will be setting a minute later every day, so that, little by little (and unnoticeably at first!) the hours of daylight will get longer and longer.
That’s all for today, apart from wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas, from me and my mum, and my big brothers Weg and Rupert, and Thursday, who is the baby of the family, even though he’s a lot bigger than me.
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