Christmas Dinner at the Allotment

Well, we don’t do all that running around buying presents and sending cards version of Christmas here, but we’re as up for a celebratory meal as anyone ‘at this special time’. In our case it will be down at Sarah’s allotment.

Some preparations being made at home.

Some preparations being made at home.

After the previous day’s splendid quality at The Pen Factory everyone is anxious that standards are kept up.

Then it's down to the Allotment, where Sarah has decorated her shed door.

Then it’s down to the Allotment, where Sarah has decorated her shed door.

She begins building the fire for the cooking.

She begins building the fire for the cooking.

While I set up the all-important festive sounds.

While I set up the all-important festive sounds.

I find Althea & Donna and Dave & Ansel Collins absolutely essential for a proper celebration, don't you?

I find Althea & Donna and Dave & Ansel Collins absolutely essential for a proper celebration, don’t you?

Let's have a quick look around, now the reggae's on.

Let’s have a quick look around, now the reggae’s on.

This is plot 44 Greenbank Lane Allotments.

This is plot 44 Greenbank Lane Allotments.

Where Sarah has been gardening since 2001.

Where Sarah has been gardening since 2001.

Here is her Wollemi Pine.

Here is her Wollemi Pine.

And her very own Monkey Puzzle Tree.

And her very own Monkey Puzzle Tree.

‘L66’ over on her Monkey Map website.

The red winter Dogwood.

The red winter Dogwood.

Over the years Sarah has had help here. Some from me, much from our friend Gemma. And this past year has seen the return of a long time friend and helper.

Bren, who has returned reincarnated as a master chef.

Bren, who has returned reincarnated as a master chef.

The fire is built.

The fire is built.

And the fire is lit.

And the fire is lit.

With good dry wood ready to keep it going.

With good dry wood ready to keep it going.

Let's have another look round.

Let’s have another look round.

The garden looking dramatic.

The garden looking dramatic.

Under a changing sky.

Under a changing sky.

Full of squalls of rain and hail.

Full of squalls of rain and hail.

A sleeping winter garden?

A sleeping winter garden?

Not quite. The magnolia buds are quiet but here.

Not quite. The magnolia buds are quiet but here.

A rose in winter.

A rose in winter.

Yellow mahonia for any not yet sleeping bees.

Yellow mahonia for any not yet sleeping bees.

And decorations?

And decorations?

Mosaic bike wheels as paving stones.

Mosaic bike wheels as paving stones.

The dead hedge full of autumn die back.

The dead hedge full of autumn die back.

And look. In between the showers and for the briefest of seconds.

A rainbow over Plot 44.

A rainbow over Plot 44.

Appearing from Brendan's outstretched arm.

Appearing from Brendan’s outstretched arm.

And over while we are still looking.

And over while we are still looking.

The rain returns and we huddle inside the polytunnel with our tea.

The rain returns and we huddle inside the polytunnel with our tea.

Until the sun returns.

Until the sun returns.

The fire is doing well now.

The fire is doing well now.

Under its impromptu shelter of the removed polytunnel door.

Under its impromptu shelter of the removed polytunnel door.

As the clouds scud over the dogwood and the tower block.

As the clouds scud over the dogwood and the tower block.

The kettles are on, washing dishes as we go as lunch approaches.

The kettles are on, washing dishes as we go as lunch approaches.

Fire wood is chopped.

Fire wood is chopped.

And what's this?

And what’s this?

Yes, eat your hearts out Lunya and Salt House Tapas!

Yes, eat your hearts out Lunya and Salt House Tapas!

It's Plot 44's very own Serrano Ham.

It’s Plot 44’s very own Serrano Ham.

Specially imported? Well, yes, sort of. They went halves on it from Aldi. Including its own stand, carving knife and sharpener!

Bren sets to work.

Bren sets to work.

It's a delicate business.

It’s a delicate business.

But expertly done.

But expertly done.

And soon the starter is ready.

And soon the starter is ready.

No ham for vegetarian me. Instead I have a slice of Bren's elegant aubergine and Peppers Pie.

No ham for vegetarian me. Instead I have a slice of Bren’s elegant Aubergine and Peppers Pie.

All watched over by the Spirits of the Allotment.

All watched over by the Spirits of the Allotment.

Interrupted by occasional storms.

Interrupted by occasional storms.

And bathed in the sacred sounds of the Staple Singers on Stax.

And bathed in the sacred sounds of the Staple Singers on Stax.

The Cypriot potatoes we bought in Lodge Lane are now making in the embers.

The Cypriot potatoes we bought in Lodge Lane are now baking in the embers.

While Sarah decorates her Monkey.

While Sarah decorates her Monkey.

DSC03202

This will all look a bit more festive as it gets darker.

This will all look a bit more festive as it gets darker.

'One World, like it or not, One World, believe it or not, One World'

‘One World, like it or not, One World, believe it or not, One World’

Watched over as we talk quietly together.

Watched over as we talk quietly together.

In the background of the Angel's Fishing Rod seeds, waiting for springtime.

In the background of the Angel’s Fishing Rod seeds, waiting for springtime.

Almost done.

Almost done.

As the darkness gathers.

As the darkness gathers.

The Monkey shines.

The Monkey shines.

The doorway sparkles.

The doorway sparkles.

In between the hailstones.

In between the hailstones.

Dinner is served.

Dinner is served.

Baked Cypriot potatoes with butter and Feta. and Bren’s Festive Salad of Peppers and Romaine Cabbage – From Louise’s allotment next door.

Christmas dinner on Plot 44, 2014.

Christmas dinner on Plot 44, 2014.

In warmth and light.

In warmth and light.

In love and friendship.

In love and friendship.

Telling stories round the fire.

Telling stories round the fire.

With the Chocolate Mousse for afters they made back at the house earlier.

With the Chocolate Mousse for afters they made back at the house earlier.

The day twinkles into darkness.

The day twinkles into darkness.

And will never be forgotten.

And will never be forgotten.

Thank you Sarah, and thank you Bren. That was lovely.

And those festive albums that soundtracked our menu?
‘Roots Reggae’ – a 60s to 80s compilation for starters
‘Be what you are’ – early 70s Staple Singers on Stax
‘The take off and landing of everything’ – Elbow
‘One World’ – John Martyn
‘Uncloudy Day’ – gospel from the late 50s Staple Singers to finish.

14 thoughts on “Christmas Dinner at the Allotment

  1. Liz

    What a Very Cool Yule! Thank you Ronnie. I loved reading all about it and seeing such splendid photos..
    And all your blogs throughout the year.

    Your words and pictures always feed my heart and soul xx xx

    Wishing you and Sarah (and Bren) a fabaroony 2015, and may all your dreams and wishes come true. Hoping for peace on earth, love and harmony, joy and fun in the months ahead. Hugs from Liz in Gambier xxx

    Reply
  2. hirstsj

    Ronnie, you conjure a great sense of the event – place, weather, activities, sounds……it looked like a real Christmas, no fakery (if that’s a word!). Thanks for blogging in 2014, I’m looking forward to remaining a reader in 2015.

    Reply
  3. Paul Cook

    Thanks for another lovely post again, Ronnie. I read this just after reading the Guardian’s account of the Boxing Day Sales: fights over trolleys, women using pushchairs as battering rams, people buying entire shopping racks of stuff they don’t even need and sales staff getting assaulted for being in the way. I wish more people had your attitude to this time of year. Maybe we’d be a much happier country. Health and happiness to you and Sarah in 2015.

    Reply
  4. jbaird

    What a beautiful celebration. I, too, am a vegetarian and so I appreciate all that went into this meal. The photos are beyond description. Happy New Year to you and yours. x Jan

    Reply
  5. Fiona

    Ahhh… That looks fab. (I got distracted in my search for Walking Home from Norris Green!) And the Staple Singers! Come Go With Me was our wedding song – we left the registry office to it. Lovely stuff!

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thans Fiona, it’s a song I’ve never grown even slightly tired of. And spent time since vinyl returned exploring the Staple Singers early gospel days. Inspiring.

      Reply
      1. Fiona

        Ahh – that sounds like a plan. Of course I then caught up on Music Box on the Norris Green blog, so I’ll have to go and have a look for some on vinyl now!

      2. Ronnie Hughes Post author

        In Musical Box the trick is to ask. There IS vinyl displayed in front of the counter, but there’s much more quality behind. And when you ask they enjoy a bit of interaction as the mother and son team are extremely knowledgeable. But also opinionated.

        While I was in there during my ‘Norris Green’ walk, we were having a very detailed fans conversation about Charlie Rich when another luckless soul, after digging in the singles, asked if they had ‘The best of Lene Lovich?’ ‘You must be joking’ was the immediate reply. ‘There’s no such album. In fact her best is the single you’re holding in your hand (Lucky Number). And even the B-side of that’s crap!’

        So enjoy the experience!

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