Monday, 6 January 2014

31st December 2013

Happy New Year!
For the last couple of New Years Eve's Steve and I have hosted our friends at our house.  We throw a big fancy dress party, get all our friends round, lay on a hot buffet (courtesy of Iceland for the most part), rearrange the living room to fit the 20 or so people we have over in somehow and drink ourselves into a stupor.  At midnight we link arms and sing auld lang syne whilst jumping up and down and attempting not to fall over.  The next day the house is a bombsite, the floor is sticky and there is normally a broken glass somewhere, mirroring the broken state of my head.
New Year 2012.  Believe it or not this was quite early!
New Year 2013.  We had just lost the quiz and had won a wooden spoon for our efforts.
We didn't do that this year.  I could say this is because we are feeling the need for more subdued New Year's these days, we are more mature, we prefer a quiet night in or we just don't have the stamina anymore for wild parties.

I could say that but it wouldn't be true.  In reality I just completely forgot to organise it and by the time I got my backside in gear most people already had plans. 

So instead we went quiet (ish) and intimate.

We had James and Sasha (and Ashley who was asleep in the travel cot upstairs) and RV and Claire around for dinner and games.  We still had to rearrange the living room but it was significantly less hassle than I had anticipated.  To be honest I actually didn't lift a finger to help with the furniture - Steve did all that for me!

I did lift a finger in the kitchen though! I cooked a 3 course meal for 6 and a cheese course - I was actually quite impressed with myself!  I have hosted dinner parties before but have never attempted three courses - normally someone else brings dessert.  We started with antipasta sharing platters similar to this one, moved onto beef stew with dumplings and finished with creme brulees and coconut and pistachio baklava's, the recipes for which will be appearing on the blog in due course.  All the food was chosen as it could either be prepared the day before, assembled at the last minute or cooked earlier in the day and left to simmer for hours, meaning that I had plenty of time to relax and not worry about anything.
We sat down at around 8pm for the first course of food and spent the first hour or so just chatting and gossiping.  Once the starters were cleared away we then cracked open the first board game.

We started with the Logo game.  Sasha and I were in a team together and the first three sets of cards we got were all to do with cars, which isn't exactly a strong point for either of us.  Everyone else got rounds of chocolate and alcohol so we felt decidely hard done by.  We lost.  Spectacularly.
To console us I served the main course and after devouring it and cracking open (and drinking) a couple more bottle of wine we then felt ready to tackle Cranium.  This is easily one of my favourite dinner party games as you end up in fits of giggles at the ridiculous things you are required to do! Cranium always seems to require a little less sobriety than most other games.  Unfortunately this did result in me shouting out rather rude words attempting to guess what Steve's drawing of a 'bum bag' was, leaving him laughing so hard he was unable to draw anymore.

Note to self, must take games more seriously.
Halfway through playing I served dessert which halted play for a little while.  We then carried on, getting more and more competitive as the play progressed and the bottles emptied.

There was copious amounts of drink to wash down the food with.  We started on champagne, moved onto beer and wine, then onto port and Baileys to complement the cheese board and then back onto the champagne (Chapel Down, a local vineyard and one of my favourites) as midnight struck.  There was also a bottle of very good Old Pultney that had appeared at Christmas!
We pushed the boat out a little with the cheeseboard, trying a few that we hadn't had before.  The blue disappeared really quickly but the Gjetost was less popular.  I think I was the only one who liked it - if you haven't had it before it is a Norwegian cheese that tastes and looks exactly like fudge, but with the texture of cheese and a cheese aftertaste.  The girl at the Macknade's cheese counter said it has a marmite effect on people - you either loved it or you hated it.  I loved it, everyone else hated it.  Odd, as I don't like fudge!
As the witching hour approached we turned off our music system and turned on the TV to watch the fireworks display over London. 
The displays are always fantastic and this year I think they really outdid themselves.  The countdown started, everyone coupled up and we opened the back doors to see the fireworks going off through the town, harmonising with the display on the TV.
Everyone took a quiet moment with their loved one, reflecting on the last year and what the future year will bring.
2013 has been an incredible year for us, busy and chaotic and wonderful and I can only imagine what 2014 will bring.  To all my friends, family and readers, I wish you a wonderful 2014.

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