Friday, 12 December 2014

Guest Post: Christmas in Cornwall by Jenny Oliver

Today it's my stop on Jenny Oliver's The Little Christmas Kitchen blog tour with a guest piece by Jenny about spending Christmas in Cornwall.

Last year my parents bought a little cottage by the sea in Cornwall. It’s picturesque pretty - ivy climbs over stone walls, robins perch on the white picket fence, and gnarled oak trees surround the garden behind which the cows in the neighbouring field moo happily. It was the perfect place for a Christmas. 

We arrived late in the pitch dark, the frost already icing windscreens. The sea crashed in the distance, whipped up by the winter storms and the wind cracked through the branches.  Our tiny car was piled high with stuff, so as we ran through the lashing rain we were carrying armfuls of presents, panettones and all the other paraphernalia that accompanies a week away. 

Dripping wet, tired, high on Haribo and Costa coffee, fraught from arguments about directions we stood forlorn on the doorstep, not really speaking, but then the stable-style door opened and it was like stepping into a fairytale. 

In the corner of the main room was a huge great tree sparkling with silver tinsel and weighed down with all our ramshackle childhood baubles. Next to that was a roaring fire that crackled and spat and scented the air with rich woodsmoke and pine. Garlands draped the staircase (my mum can turn a bunch of holly and ivy into the most lavish of decorations) and Whisky Macs sat waiting on the big table (the Christmas tablecloth already laid out and red candles flickering). 

We ate, we laughed, we forgot about our driving-based arguments and, as the rain stopped, we went outside to look up at the million stars in the vast, black Christmas sky.  As the church bell chimed midnight (city-esque sighs about whether the bells would ring all night), and tiredness defeated us, we retired to bed. The staircase creaking and the owl hooting (causing some discussion about where the owl was and what type it was). Our room was small and cosy with exposed wooden beams and over the windows were beautiful woollen curtains that my mum had made from tartan rugs. The night was silent, the sheets crisp, the bed new and soft and cocooning. In the morning there was the option of a cup of tea in bed (a habit that my husband sadly doesn’t adhere to, so for me it’s the greatest luxury!) and then bacon and farm eggs for breakfast. It was all followed, of course, by those same childhood bickering rows with my sisters about who had to empty the dishwasher and whose turn it was to set the table. And my parents trying to diffuse any strops by ushering us all out the house with our coats and wellie boots, husbands sloping at the back amused and bemused. 

On Christmas Day, after breakfast, we walked down to the beach. The sky was clear, the sand swept up by the wind and, to my surprise, coming from London where the streets are empty on Christmas Day, everyone tucked up inside, the beach was packed with people. Wrapped up in scarfs and gloves, they strolled along while their dogs played in the surf. They had picnic chairs and thermoses. Kids built sandcastles. And some were even brave enough to take a dip in the sea. 

Inspired by these insane swimming antics my brother-in-law went in on Boxing Day and we watched, wincing, as he tensed with every wave. When he came out, wrapped in a towel, lips blueish, I laughed (as is our relationship!) and he dared me to go in myself. ‘Next year!’ I said with a smirk. 

With only two weeks to go till Christmas my promise is suddenly looming. The water will be really, really cold. Wish me luck @JenOliverBooks! xx 

Rather you than me Jenny... 

Christmas at the Davenports’ house was always about one thing: food!

But when sisters Ella and Maddy were split up, Ella to live in London with their Dad, and Maddy staying in Greece with their Mum, mince pies lost their magic. 

Now, a cheating husband has thrown Ella a curved snowball…and for the first time in years, all she wants is her mum. So she heads back to Greece, where her family’s taverna holds all the promise of home. Meanwhile, waitress Maddy’s dreams of a white Christmas lead her back to London…and her Dad. 

But a big fat festive life-swap isn’t as easy as it sounds! And as the sisters trade one kitchen for another, it suddenly seems that among the cinnamon, cranberries and icing sugar, their recipes for a perfect Christmas might be missing a crucial ingredient: each other.

Jenny’s latest novel THE LITTLE CHRISTMAS KITCHEN is out now.

Hungry for more? Try THE VINTAGE SUMMER WEDDING and THE PARISIAN CHRISTMAS BAKE-OFF, which are also available in paperback.