Potwell Inn (Christmas) sherry trifle recipe

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Sponge fingers
1 bottle sherry, (or to taste – probably less)
Frozen raspberries from the allotment
Raspberry jelly (jello)
Crême Anglaise
Whipped cream
decorations  – must include crystallised angelica + glace cherries
non alcoholic version for grandchildren – leave out sherry but they’ll still eat yours if they get a chance.

So after 4 days at the stove, the last of the guests has departed, the Potwell Inn has returned to its usual quiet existence and I feel as if I’m a stone heavier. The sherry trifle is such a favourite with everyone that I usually wish I’d made two, but we even managed to eat one of the Christmas puddings this year, which means there are only three left to look reproachfully out of the cupboard until we eat them during the year.  Christmas cooking is as much liturgy as it is cooking; traditions to be observed and rituals to be followed to the letter. From the moment the turkey arrives the die is cast, and the familiar sequence begins once again.  The difference this year was that I cooked the turkey in Bath  and we drove it over to Bristol in a pile of pre-prepped trays, boxes and bags so our chef son could have a break from cooking. The thrill of the Christmas roast palls after the first thousand have gone out to the pass, but I’m an amateur so I never get bored with it. All that remains today is the stockpot simmering away very slowly on the stove, filling the flat with its aroma.  We both agree, (as we always do), that a period of  restraint would be rather good.

We ignored the stupefying dolt-fest of television and our oldest son continued our film education by force-feeding us Tarantino films, although we managed to negotiate a brief respite with Naked Gun for the 200th time. So all reigned peaceful and no-one got upset for the whole period although we all enjoyed a jolly good moan about our sad lives under the cosh of our incompetent superiors. It’s Christmas for goodness sake, if you can’t feel sorry for yourself at Christmas there’s no hope for humanity, and that suits us very well – bah humbug.  The revelation of the week was that our son is very good at extracting broken keys from locks – it was (stone cold sober) me that broke it this time – and we had to go to Timsons to get another cut.  The young man there did a brilliant job in the face of imminent collapse after looking after eight guests – our hearts ached for him. The most amusing event was meeting our upstairs neighbour on the stairs on Christmas morning. I thought he was behaving a bit strangely, and then he produced a set of flash cards one of which said “I’ve lost my voice” and another “Happy Christmas”.  He managed a weak smile and stumbled off upstairs.

And so we rehearsed our tour of the town this afternoon, using the tourist minimising route, and although the bottom of Milsom Street resembled the Mississippi in flood, we skipped across like loggers and enjoyed a quiet walk along the rather damp side streets. I feel completely exhausted and all I can dream of is some sunshine and a few plants in flower, but having struggled past the solstice, the weather continues wet and miserable. I’m sure we’re breaking records – just not very good ones.

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Author: Dave Pole

I've spent my life doing a lot of things, all of them interesting and many of them great fun. When most people see my CV they probably think I'm making things up because it includes being a rather bad welder and engineering dogsbody, a potter, a groundsman and bus driver. I taught in a prison and in one of those ghastly old mental institutions as an art therapist and I spent ten years as a community artist. I was one of the founding members of Spike Island, which began life as Artspace Bristol. ! wrote a column for Bristol Evening Post (I got sacked three times, in which I take some pride) and I worked in local and network radio and then finally became an Anglican parish priest for 25 years, retiring at 68 when I realised that the institutional church and me were on different paths. What interests me? It would be easier to list what doesn't, but I love cooking and baking with our home grown ingredients. I'm fascinated by botany and wildlife in general, and botanical illustration. We have a camper van that takes us to the wild places, we love walking, especially in the hills, and we take too many photographs. But what really animates me is the question "what does it mean to be human?". I've spent my life exploring it in every possible way and the answer is ..... well, today it's sitting in the van in the rain and looking across Ramsey Sound towards Ramsey Island. But it might as easily be digging potatoes or making pickle, singing or finding an orchid or just sitting. But it sure as hell doesn't mean getting a promotion, beasting your co-workers or being obsequious to power, which ensured that my rise to greatness in the Church of England flatlined 30 years ago after about 2 days. But I'm still here and still searching for that elusive sweet spot, and I don't have to please anyone any more. Over the last 50 or so years we've had a succession of gardens, some more like wildernesses when we were both working full-time, but now we're back in the game with our two allotments in Bath.

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