A pig for a present
It is 8.00 in the morning Christmas day, and I havent yet opened my presents which still wait around the tree (above) until the turkey is safely in oven. (There was a minor hiccough last night when a fault in the electronic clock appeared to make it impossible to turn the oven ON... could you grill a turkey in pieces, we started to wonder...? but a bit of fiddling with the buttons sorted the problem.)
But one particular present has already made an impact.
Last Friday the husband texted me in Rome to say that there was a bit of a problem with an unexpected gift which had arrived at college. It was a suckling pig, which would not fit in the freezer.... Vegetarians, please dont read on.
As it happened, if I had known the cold weather would last, it could just have sat in the garden for a week or so, until we cooked it (that was of course another challenge, give the size of our oven, even when working). But being on the safe side, I decided to find it a temporary home in a big freezer....So I made a mercy call to our butchers (the estimable Waller and Son, of Victoria Ave in Cambridge . . .), and they took it in for the weekend.
But where next? College was the obvious answer, so as soon I was back from Italy, I drove to the butcher and took it round to Newnham. The trouble about that was that the catering manager was a generous host to the pig, but the kitchens would be entirely closed between the 23rd and 5th January, and there would be no space for the beast after the 10th. So if I was planning to cook it (how?) over the festive season, it would be inaccessible.
Anyway, one of the advantages of getting older in a town like this is that you get to have friends who are institutionally equipped with big fridges and big ovens. So explaining the problem to my friends Andrew and Jo (Mr and Mrs Sidney Sussex college), it quickly became clear that the Master's Lodge offered a solution to all problems... a big freezer and a big oven, and we all turned out to be free on New Year's Day on which occasion the animal could be cooked and consumed.
So I went and collected it from Newnham and drove the beast to Sidney, where Jo and I received a lesson from the Head Chef on how long to defrost him (her?) for before cooking, and what gas mark was required etc etc. And so we are all set.
And indeed not only has the pig given me a birthday party, but it has made a wide impact around the town. No sooner to I go into college than they ask about its fate, and when I went into the butcher to pick up the turkey, one of the Wallers men said "Andrew's looking forward to eating the pig"... how di he know? Well he turned out to be the acting head porter of Sidney . . . and had been filled in on the fate of the beast from many sides!
So thanks to the semi-anonymous donor (Patrick x x x x x x what a star you are!), and to all who have helped out (especially Jo and Andrew).
On other fronts, Christmas set to go... we even have a little tree in the new bathroom!
And this is our cake...home-made would you believe!