Christmas 2011 Highlights

I think I can speak for us all when I say we have had a fabulous Christmas.  Noisy, mad, chaotic and crazy and all good fun.  I spent Chistmas in lovely Lyme Regis, with my 3 sisters and their families.  There is not much about food in this post, even though we did spend a significant proportion of our time, preparing food and eating it!  I allowed myself to eat and drink what I wanted without worrying about points or calories or even recording what I had.


One of the last things I did before leaving home was to decant the sloe gin I made in to these beautiful bottles for my brothers-in-law .  I bought the bottles at County Cookshop in Cranbrook.

We arrived at Lucy’s at lunch time.  She has the most wonderful kitchen for cooking and eating in, with plenty of space for everyone.

The children set about making a gingerbread house.

Ta da

While it set, we went to the Christmas crib service at Uplyme Church which was delightful.

We each took a day to manage the cooking and I was responsible for Christmas Eve.  I made a delicious chicken dish with prunes, tomatoes and olives which I will share another time.  I also made the North African Squash with Chickpeas (see recipe page), rice and a large salad.  Followed by brownie pumpkin pie (made without nuts and it still tasted lovely) and baked apples.  My cousin Miranda joined us with her children for supper too.

While I cooked the children settled down to watch a film

on the big screen.  As a BAFTA judge (and BAFTA winner 🙂 ) my sister Lucy is sent a copy of all the films which have a BAFTA nomination so there is always a stack of current films to watch at her house.  During the next 3 days, the children watched Arthur Christmas ( received a big thumbs up), Hugo (slow moving and dull) and Super 8 (only for the older children and adults as it was a bit scary but fabulous)


Christmas Day began early for the younger members of the house – 4am!!!  But they were good and managed to resist waking us up until 7 am for a flurry of present opening.  Followed by breakfast of pancakes, bacon, eggs, maple syrup plus toast and cereal.

Most of us then went to Charmouth Beach, which is part of the Jurassic Coast which is a World Heritage site.  You can literally walk along the beach and if you are keen eyed, pick up fossils.  Real ones.  But we did not go to collect fossils but for the annual Christmas Day swim.  Not as participants you understand, but as spectators.

The children had a look for fossils while we waited.

They didn’t find any fossils but Harvey did find this interesting stone.  Children always find some treasure on the beach which has to be carefully looked after and taken home.

My beautiful niece Olivia.

The swimmers began to arrive from about 10:30 am, most of whom were in fancy dress.

Some wore more than others!

More and more swimmers arrived.

The crowds gathered to watch.

At 11 am, the crazy swimmers ran in to the water.

There was a wonderful party atmosphere on the beach and we really enjoyed the spectacle.

Back at the ranch Jim was in charge of Christmas lunch and Abi and Lara helped.  The rest of us flopped about, relaxed and began enjoying all that is yellow and fizzy and served in tall slender glasses.

The children played with new games.   Some played together,

while others found a quiet spot to play alone.

Lunch was a triumph.  Smoked salmon and parma ham to start with,

followed by the full works:  roast turkey, sausages, bacon wrapped around sausage meat, a vegetarian and a meaty stuffing, roasted potatoes, parsnips and carrots, brussel spouts, leeks and carrots in white sauce (one of our traditions), cranberry sauce (made by me), bread sauce and gravy.  YUM!

Followed many hours later by Christmas pudding with brandy butter and brandy cream and an evening of games, such as Mah Jong.


I often find Boxing Day far more relaxing than Christmas Day.  The pressure is off and everyone relaxes.  After a very leisurely breakfast, my Uncle and Aunty and cousin Miranda came round and we all walked in to Lyme Regis and headed for the end of the Cobb.  Lyme Regis is one of my favourite places on the planet and I love being there, especially when I have my family with me.  We all really enjoy being at Lyme as we have holidayed here nearly every year of our lives.  It is a special place.

Sister Holly with her hubby, Richard.

New Christmas hats and coats were worn,

Near the end of the harbour wall is a small but enchanting aquarium.  We thought the 21 of us may have overwhelmed it but were curious to discover what these were!  Any ideas?

The boys were nearly lost as they slipped off the harbour wall – LOL.

We eventually made it to the end of the harbour wall.  It was cold out there!

Brrrr.  Time to go to the pub.

The verandah of The Harbour Inn was quickly filled by our party of 21 and we sat and enjoyed a drink, some chips and the view.

Miranda lives in the centre of Lyme Regis and I wanted a closer look at her Christmas tree which she made herself so some of us spent the afternoon at Miranda’s.  She had collected driftwood from the beach and then made this beautiful tree.  This is my favourite tree of the year.

These charming ginger biscuits were made by a friend.

Lucy cooked a roast pork and a gammon for supper and Holly made a Key Lime Pie.  The food was fabulous, again.  The children ate separately and after a little play, went to bed quite early as they were all tired.

The gentlemen had great difficulty making it back up the steep hill from the harbour, where we had left them in the early afternoon.  Luckily there were plenty of pubs along the way so they could rest their weary feet during their 4 hour journey and try to decide whether they preferred Laphroaig or Talisker and other such weighty matters.  To say that supper was raucous would be an understatement.  We enjoyed a very hilarious evening, memories of which remain fuzzy.


The day started with breakfast at one of my favourite eateries –  The Town Mill Bakery in Lyme Regis.  I walked there with Lara and Harvey.

From Lucy’s we took the scenic route and walked beside the river.

And came out at the bottom of the High Street at the Town Mill.

Breakfast at the Town Mill is more sociable than your average cafe and as fresh as it can be as you actually sit in the bakery and can watch them making the bread.  You pick up a bread board and help yourself to the freshly made breads, cakes or pastries (or muesli or eggs).

You sit at long trestle tables and share huge bowls of butter, jam and peanut butter and pass your neighbours bowls of sugar and jugs of milk.

I had a boiled egg with toasted sea salt and rosemary bread.

We always try and visit the Town Mill Bakery every trip to Lyme Regis as it is so lovely.

The large breakfast was the perfect fuel for a longer and more bracing walk today from Langdon Woods to Seatown.  30 of us set out for the walk and we were heading for the bay in the distance.

Some of the walk was rather muddy

and other parts were down a steep hill.

It was a lovely walk as the scenery was spectacular, there were so many lovely people to chat to and the weather was kind to us.  At the end we were rewarded with lunch at The Anchor Inn, Seatown.

It was mild enough for many to eat and drink outside, but as the family room was vacant, that offered a welcome respite for the younger members of the group.

My lovely cousins, Edwina and Miranda.

After such an amazing time, it was hard to leave in the evening but we had to.  Luckily we had a quick 3 hour drive home where our house seems very quiet.  Thank you Lucy and Trevor for hosting such an amazing Christmas.

We all had a very happy Christmas and I hope you did too.

About Lose Weight and Gain Health

Hi! My name is Zoe and I live in Hastings, East Sussex, with my son Harvey and dog, Milton. I have been fighting the fat for years but this time I am serious. I want to lose weight and gain health. This blog is about how I am changing my lifestyle so I can lose weight but not by just "being on a diet" but by making small changes to our lives so that as I lose weight, I gain health. I want my family to be healthy too and never have to struggle with their weight like I have. In common with many large people, I have gained and lost weight many times over the years. This time, I want to lose it and maintain a healthy low weight. I am interested in eating food that is nutrient dense and delicious and that appeals to children and adults. I do not eat animal products so follow a vegan diet. I try to use locally produced food supplemented with what I can grow myself. I support and try to use local farmers markets and farm shops. Another objective is to add more exercise to our days. It sounds so simple when I write it down :-)
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5 Responses to Christmas 2011 Highlights

  1. Abi Ellson says:

    Brilliant Zoe, perfect reminder of a fantastic Christmas with our wonderful family xx

  2. Holly says:

    What a gorgeous account – I showed the pics of that beautiful pile of smoked salmon to Richard so he knows what we missed! But laughed out loud at the pic of Harvey slobbed out in the ‘pefect situp’ machine – absolutely brilliant. You should email it to the company for their marketing campaign!

  3. Lucy Murphy says:

    I’m back on line after 2 weeks so I’ve only just had a look at all these gorgeous pictures. Really love them. It was a lovely Christmas and I’m glad you could all come and share it with us. We cancelled our new year plans as the lurgie kicked in big time so I lay on the sofa and conducted some research into the merits of Lyme Bay Sloe Gin as compared with Zoe’s Sloe Gin. I’m pleased to tell you that the winner, by a long chalk, was Zoe’s Sloe Gin. We’re all hoping that this autumn ritual for you becomes a Christmas ritual for us! xx

    • I am so sorry you were ill but very glad the sloe gin helped and delighted you preferred mine. Hang on to that bottle and I will be delighted to refill it for you. I have some damson gin that needs decanting 🙂
      The recipe for my sloe gin, if you wanted to make some next year, was written up in the post called “sloely sloely”.

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