Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas at Mornington (and a Holly Cottage Christmas Rose)

Quick - the Holly Cottage greenhouse is falling down!
The drama of the longest night is over, and it is the turn of Christmas to take the spotlight. Chicken Licken and Henny Penny might have been waiting for the sky to fall down, but nothing of the sort happened. Did anyone think it would? 

Here in the Holly Cottage a few things went bump alright - mostly in the night ;) The winds of Saturday night managed to take the greenhouse half down - a pitiful sight for a sunny Sunday morning. It was fixed with a few plastic ties and a bit of strategic propping - should get us through this week when there ought to be little or no cares and worries. And then the rains of the last few nights have seeped through the broken roof tile and the underlay to create a beautiful brown, foreboding damp spot on the hall ceiling - visible only this morning but hinted at for the last few weeks. Ho Hum. Dear Santa - please  send a builder and a roof fixing technician to make our Christmas dry and warm and make sure the roof doesn't fall in. Too big a job for the busy toy-giving man methinks. Let's just think positively and hope for the best...

And so yesterday, after a bit of emergency DIY on the greenhouse I headed over for the annual (and not be missed) excursion to see Katy O'Hara and the folk of Mornington House for a bit of a Christmas do. I was left to my own devices as the love of my life was stuck to the Mac keyboard mixing and adding bits to the next song to be posted on Reverberation/catherinewilkie. But not to worry, I would only have to eat and drink enough for the both of us in his absence ;)

Mornington House - home from home
I first met up with the fabulous Miss Katy O'Hara whilst working for a summer in Cape May, New Jersey over 15 years ago. There was eleven of us Irish living in a very small three bedroomed bungalow on Union St in Cape May. I slept on the floor most of the time, and even though there were many moments when friendships were tested, one or two of the girls I met that summer will be friends forever. And so, almost every Christmas for the past near 20 years, I have been heading to Katy's house in Mornington for a bit of a Christmas do - ranging from a few leftovers sandwiches on a sedate Stephen's Day to full blown New Year's Eve Black Tie Ball. It's definitely one of the best places that I know of for a party and the welcome from Warwick and Anne makes it feel like I am one of the prodigal children coming home licking my wounds after a long year on the battlefield of life. To be greeted with love and kindness and usually a full plate and glass to celebrate my return. Oh so nice.

Once inside the door of Mornington you are literally transported back in time, back about a hundred years at least - the wood panelled entrance hall, the fire-lit warmth of the 1896 drawing room and the magnificent dining room that rings with the laughter of the many candlelit dinners and glasses of wine shared there. Warwick and Anne managed to feed 40+ guests aged from 3 to 93, and keep everyone  cheerful on that sunny Sunday afternoon. Warwick was hardly without a bottle or a pot of tea in his hand to pour for man, woman or child, (plus one dog and small kitten) while Anne was overseeing the smooth running of the show. Katy and Pat - the next generation - managed to row in from the shadows making sure the 40 or so of us that rambled in from the four corners of Ireland were kept cosy for the afternoon.

Anne is Number 1 cook (follow her lovely blog although Warwick's experience is to be also sought after. Three types of curry - ranging from creamy, fruity and spicy - nothing too hot, and all the trimmings - raita, chutney, yogurt, fruit, naan, and popadoms freshly cooked. Followed by lashings of trifle, chocolate log, meringues, apple pie and my indulgence - the annual mince pie. Now, I am not a fan of those dreadful thrown together mince pies - especially the mass produced variety - but after my own mother's, Anne O'Hara's comes in as a close second. Feeding frenzy over, and seconds had - we bathed in the warmth of the Mornington embrace.

The children chased the kitten around the drawing room, Ned the dog sniffed every trouser leg and shoe going, the donkeys - Holly and Molly - basked in the rare winter sunshine outside and the rest of us in Mornington shared the stories of the year passed and the hopes for year future. Days like that in Mornington remind me that often times friends become family, and family is of course what Christmas is all about.

Not to be trifled with ;)
And so for everyone who shares this blog - friends, family and friends not yet made - enjoy Christmas for what it is. A chance to stop and share a mince pie, or a drink with an old friend. Enjoy making new ones. And be thankful and grateful that we made it round this way again. It didn't quite work out like that for Chicken Licken and Henny Penny, but they did forget to live in the present and were too freaked out worrying about future. For the future will come despite all hesitancy and trepidation, and it will pass. No doubt. 

One last thing - I wanted to share our garden surprise with you - a rogue rose that appeared in the garden this week in the midst of an overgrown mess down the back corner. A thing of great beauty in otherwise darkened surroundings - our Christmas rose. A Happy and Peaceful Christmas to all from the Holly Cottage gang. Enjoy it wherever you are.

Our Christmas Rose

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