We spent a very pleasant Christmas week this year in Elisabeth and Robert’s comfortable house in South London, and I did very much enjoy NOT being in overall charge of Christmas catering.

I brought with me a simple supper for Christmas Eve (I offered this as they were working) and I baked a Christmas Stollen in their house. This has become a tradition at our house – we eat it warm, and the rest we consume on Christmas morning while opening the presents. The fragrance of this fruity loaf fills the house. I also brought a large square Christmas cake – double the recipe amounts. This year I abandoned Delia and instead followed the Celebration Cake recipe from the Australian Women’s Weekly 100 Classic Cakes and we thought this was much nicer. I also brought a large home made Christmas pudding, which we don’t eat on Christmas Day but consume with cream on some other day of the holidays when rations are low. Apart from providing brunch on New Year’s morning, that was my entire responsibility and Elisabeth and Robert efficiently provided the rest of the meals, including lunch for 4 sets of visitors. Delicious! It was such a pleasure NOT to know what was for dinner, and helping by preparing some vegetables for ‘chef’ was no trouble.

Neither did Elisabeth sniff at my Christmas table runner, made by me about 35 years ago from a strip of heavy red cotton, with two green Christmas trees appliqued at each end, and a ring of lettering spelling out the legend, Unto us a son is born, in black embroidery threads couched with gold thread. It came with us to Antwerp and to South Carolina. Like ourselves it’s beginning to look a bit battered and frayed round the edges, but it’s still loved for all that!

Happy New Year everyone!