Saturday, November 25, 2006

Wind, Sand, Mince Pies and Carols

I optimistically made a long list of things to do today, starting with baking the Christmas cake (I know I was talking about doing it last week, but talking hasn't yet resulted in it happening yet), making fruit mince for the mince pies, baking bread and ambitiously ending with writing something for each blog plus an article or two...

An SMS from a friend proposing a trip to the beach put paid to all that. I had soaked the fruit for the cake in brandy and was half way through preparing the fruit mince. I knew the kids would love to get out for a bit, so we went.

Their energy was overflowing into scuffles as we got into the friend's minivan. We rechannelled it into singing our way through all the songs they're practising for the end of term ('Away in the Manger' heading the request list) and by the time we arrived at the beach my voice was fading from the effort of holding any sort of tune over the rumble of the bus and the blustering of the wind....the wind.

The beach was empty except for kite-surfers. We should have turned around at that point and gone somewhere else. But no! We'd said the beach and the beach it was going to be. The playful south-easter was hurtling sand along the beach, exfoliating our legs and mocking our attempts to put up the wind-break/shade tent by whisking it away from us as we tried to slide the bendy support poles up their sleeves.

One of us had to sit in it at all times once we'd finally succeeded in putting it up, as an anchor and tent pole combined! But the kids had a good enough time. They jumped around in the cold Atlantic Ocean and then dug in the shelter afforded by our tent, my son finding some rocks that broke the wind enough to make a castle. We had a fine view of the kite-surfers leaping high in the air and powering along the length of the beach. To see Table Mountain we had to be facing into the sand stripping wind, so we didn't admire it too often.

On the way home they were begging me to get out the Christmas Carols CD as soon as we got home. I've said not until it is December. I know that they'll be wanting to listen to it all day every day once we start and I really don't want to be sick to death of the beautiful carols sung by the King's College Choir before we've even got near Christmas. For me the CD is a nostagia trip back to childhood Christmas Eves , when we always had the radio tuned to the King's College Carol Service, while we wrapped last minute presents, made brandy butter for the pudding and stuffing for the turkey.

Once home, where it had hardly been windy at all, I finished off the fruit mince and we found ourselves debating whether it would be too soon to make a batch of mince pies tomorrow. We really ought to leave it for at least a week in the fridge, enough time to soak up all the spice and develop the flavour, but greed and anticipation of my sister-in-law's wonderful pastry was leading us astray.

It was only later when I thought about it, that I realised the irony - sensibly confining Christmas carols to December, but considering baking mince pies already in November. Greed overrules good sense every time!


  1. Good for you Kit! A brave and fearless woman changing to beta....I have not summoned the courage yet....perhaps on one of these cold December nights in the haze of too much excess Holiday cheer ( wine) I will make the switch. Great pictures of the beach outing. The sands look so fine and white and clean. Beautiful! I am falling in love with S. Africa! So much pristine beauty and diversity. Laughing here as talk of baking Christmas fruitcake and carols and then seeing the warm sand beach. Do you long for snow and cold at times during the Holidays? The older I get the less appealing the snow seems to be. I think the warmth of a beach would be excellent. You mentioned Kings College Music...I have an old LP album dating from the mid-60's of Christ College? medieval carols that I love. I can't play it now because the old LP turntable gave up the ghost. :( In the Bleak Midwinter and other ancient carols...they are so beautiful. Do you listen to the BBC music? My friend in Florida gave me the url for some great music there....Must be my English ancestory kicking in. I love that music.

  2. I've got a CD of King's College, Cambridge boy's choir singing carols. which is lovely very pure and clear sounds of Christmas. I looked on Amazon and they seem to produce a new one every few years, so I linked to the latest one on my post.

    Sometimes it would be lovely to have a snowy white Christmas, it never quite seems right combining sun and mince pies!

  3. Thanks for a nostalgic view of my favourite mountain! As to the Christmas spirit, we have been eating Lebkuchen for weeks, but I have refused to put up ANY Xmas decorations until we are well into December - as you say, greed rules!


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!