Last Saturday I went Christmas shopping with my cousins. When they recently visited my mother on All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1st) we treated them to some nice lemon curd cakes, mini muffins (lemon and chocolate flavour) and cookies with chips of white chocolate and lemon rind … all purchased at Stonemanor, the all British store. They were very impressed and clearly enjoyed the unusual treat. My youngest cousin, P. was particularly fond of the cherry and cinnamon tea from Twinning’s. Before leaving on that cold November day, she suggested we’d visit the store together, to do some Christmas (food) shopping. We all agreed on Saturday 15th and promised to call each other to fix time and place.
P. called me two weeks ago, confirming our rendezvous and informing me that her sister I. (and husband W. who cooked us pheasant a while ago), as well as her brother J. (and wife M.J.) would be joining us.
We met at my apartment at quarter to twelve. Saturday being a very busy day at Stonemanor – especially during the dark days before Christmas – a lunchtime visit seemed the best solution. We arrived at the store around quarter past twelve and left at … half past one. All the time I tried to keep an eye on my five visitors, herding them through the aisles, hoping not to lose anybody. At some point I felt like Callie the collie, Ken and Walt’s Border collie … trying to keep the group together. It was quite a challenge as they all had different interests. P. had the time of her life, examining all the intriguing products, her reading spectacles dangerously balancing on the tip of her nose. Although she’s 52, she looked and behaved like a kid in a candy store. It was really fun to watch her.
After stocking up on food, we moved on to the first floor … wrong decision, because we had to drag our heavy shopping baskets up there. We should have made our tour the other way round. But by then, it was too late. So we spent another half an hour browsing through Christmas cards, Christmassy table cloths and napkins. At some point, I noticed that W. – I.’s husband – was missing. I looked at the time and noticed that is was well over half past one. As I had booked a table for seven – including my mother, who didn’t come on our shopping spree – at our local Chinese restaurant, I rounded everybody up to join the long lines at the cash register. I. was hanging behind. She finally turned up, clutching some extra Christmas decorations to her chest.
It was almost two p.m. when we finally made it to the Chinese restaurant. It was a very close call!!! We decided not to overstay our welcome and therefore ordered an aperitif, a main course – no first courser - a bottle of rosé wine and a large bottle of sparkling water. The food was great and conversation lively. My mother enjoyed her nieces and nephews’ company and I managed to relax for a few hours – after a very stressing time at the office and my ‘guard dog duty’ in the shop. We had a great time … It was almost five p.m. when we said goodbye in the best of spirits. And we all agreed: we should this more often.
And Santa? Where does he come in? Well there was a ‘life’ Santa with a noisy bell at Stonemanor who scared the hell out of I., when he suddenly showed behind her shouting ‘HO, HO, HO…’ in her ear.
And today Santa came to my house … leaving this package on my doorstep … Curious?
P.S. I did take my camera on Saturday, but I was having such a good time that I forgot to shoot photos ... Sorry!