(On the terrace overlooking St Mawes Harbour at midnight this year.)
New Year’s Eve is not my favourite party night. In my twenties we often left London in large groups and rented big old houses for a long weekend, which was always fun. (1998-9 in a chateau in Normandy with twenty university friends was pretty memorable, as was a friend’s isolated stalking cottage in the northernmost Highlands of Scotland for Millenium NYE with five friends.)
But, on the rare occasions that I have stayed in London, I have had a thoroughly miserable time and wished myself anywhere but the place I was. Last week we stopped off to see some friends for lunch en route to Cornwall and there was this fab photo (below) on the wall of a group of us on our way to a 20s party in Islington for New Year’s some eight years or so ago.
We all looked great and very chirpy, (that’s me in the middle in the front in the flapper dress), but I remember it very, very clearly as a dispiriting, disappointing night of feeling rather sad, comprehensively unattractive and lonely, really, really lonely. (Nothing to do with the party or its hosts: I’m just not good at being single in rooms filled with people I don’t know.)
So after that night I vowed NEVER AGAIN. NO MORE NYE PARTIES pretending to be someone I am not and, since then, hands down the best NYE I have spent was on the sofa with my sister, a big fleecy blanket each, P Bad between us, a large Indian takeaway, 2 bottles of Stella, and The Princess Bride on DVD. And last year we did a version of the same, tucked up in side by side beds in a riad in Marrakech, reading and eating pizza.
But this year’s was actually pretty damn BRILLIANT. Three friends I love, my sister and I planning, cooking and eating a delicious meal in a beautiful house by the sea in Cornwall, drinking lots of Champagne, and dancing on the terrace to Jools Holland’s Hootenany until the early house. It was ACE.
Hannah made her mother’s excellent special cheese souffle, with a recipe garnered over FaceTime that morning.
Then I was in charge of the roast boned rib of beef from the properly excellent St Mawes Butcher, making gravy, and the olive oil roasted crunchy potatoes, accompanied by lots of St Mawes horseradish sauce. Hannah oversaw the Vichy carrots, and made a Pavlova. Yes, we had a proper New Zealand Pavlova. Yum.
And then there was Champagne, paper hats, and dancing to Adam Ant & Dexy’s…
And, again, a huge thanks to Amanda and St Mawes Retreats for letting us stay at Dreamcatchers over New Year. Having such a well-equipped kitchen in a self-catering rental property so we could properly cook is just a dream come true.