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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