Every year, always and without fail we celebrate Burn's night in the lane. It's an excuse to behave like children, drink far too much than is sensible and of course eat some delicious Haggis - among other delights.
And every Year, always and without fail we feel utterly appauling the next day - but I have to say it really is worth every aching head and interesting bruise (Crossing the lane in the dark, full of wine is a dangerous past time! Not for the faint hearted).
We are really very fond of each other, and a neighbourhood party on a freezing January night really cheers us up.
There is also a little bit of fund raising that goes on in the background too. Any money left over from the food and drink kitty is put to a good cause. Be it the children's village cricket club, football club, or the Twinnie's nursery. This year however, we decided to use the money to fund our own speeding campaign in the lane.
We are quite frankly sick of the eejits who treat our little lane as a rat run. Of the large lorries - way beyond the legal weight tonnage - who end up taking out trees, verges and my WING MIRROR in the lane by their over excited Sat Nav.
I am personally sick of the people who really don't give a monkeys about our children and older generation that use the lane to stroll to the school bus or shops. When asked to politely slow down, we are usually shown variations of the fingered salute or told to 'something' off! Nice.
A few weeks ago we got together and privately purchased some '20 mph' stickers for our wheelie bins. On rubbish day, we stuck them on and placed the bins outside our cottages. Oh, but we were proud. Little green soldiers, lined up on a mission. The red, white and black signs boldy directing the drivers to drive a little more carefully.
Did it work?
Not entirely sure - but our next stage of the plan will hopefully make more of an impact. Funded by the silly night on the tiles, our customised wooden signs will soon be placed in the verges, on the trees and in our front gardens.
We are planning our slogans, short and sweet at the moment. '20 is plenty', that sort of thing. Personally I favour 'Don't live here? Well don't drive down here!' but I'm wondering if this isn't a little unfriendly!
So, as with all of our previous Burn's nights, we eat a different course at a different house. This year, I started it all off with Fizz and nibbly things at mine. We moved to Caroline and Nick's for the starter, Phoebe and Dave's for the main, some of which was prepared by Robyn and Simon, and finally we fell through the door of Rob and Julia's - for pud... and cheese....and whisky.
A little later, we all fell through our own front doors and some of us actually made it up the stairs before falling asleep!
First and most importantly, the Burn's night cocktail - guaranteed to set the pace for the evening. This year, I sprinkled some edible glitter into a champagne flute, added some of my evil-home-made plum vodka and then filled what space was left in the glass with cheap pink fizz. Marvellous. And hic.
My nibbly things were nice and substantial - my version of that instant cheese fondue - the baked camembert. It was removed from it's packaging, placed back in the bottom of the box, wrapped in foil and cooked at Mk6 200c for 20-30 mins until all soft and floaty to the touch - when pressed, feels a little like a waterbed! While this was cooking, I sliced an onion and cooked it slowly in 1oz butter and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup until soft and caramalised. I then scooped the lid off the cheese and spooned the onions on top.... Scrumples.
I added some capers and tons of chopped parsley to my little garlic bread nibbles - a strange looking paninni bread I picked up at Waitrose a while ago. Found them in the bottom of my freezer and thought ... why not? The capers added an intense saltiness to the bread, which was dipped in garlic butter - not spread - so as to ensure a crispy and buttery nibble!
My third dish was a fennel seed spelt pancake, topped with creme fraiche mixed with diced beetroot and chives. This was then adorned with a slice or two of cooked smoked salmon, a little bit of beetroot and some gold edible glitter! Why glitter? Well because I can I suppose - and because I like it on....everything!
And so to the rest of the meal...please excuse the hazy photos - the lighting was softer and so was my grip on the camera... ( I blame the plum vodka)...
Delicious Cullen Skink care of Caroline...
Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, with the supporting cast of the very wonderful underated curly kale with heaps of butter....care of Phoebe, Dave, Robyn and Simon...
Reading the 'Ode to the Haggis'.... badly.
Now, I don't have any pictures of our time at Rob and Julia's. Only one of the pud.
Two reasons. Number one - I was so in love with the Raspberry Roulade, I completely forgot to take any other photos. And number two? I fell asleep shortly after I ate it!