For the first time ever, this year we left Sydney and celebrated Christmas away from home.
We booked a pet-friendly holiday house (because Rosie doesn’t like to be left behind), on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast so we could celebrate with Drew’s parents, brother, sister-in-law and their three small children, who moved here about a decade ago.
The Sunshine Coast is a 13-hour drive from Sydney or you can fly in around 90-minutes. Drew and I drove with Rosie who was meant to sit on the back seat but instead preferred to be on my lap, (she’s a wee-bit high maintenance). The children flew because I’d rather not have them on the back seat or on my lap.
The holiday house is beautiful. I knew it was good when I saw the images on the internet but it’s always lovely when what you see with your own eyes surpasses the expectations built from the photos already viewed. The house is light, bright and spacious and I knew it would be perfect for all the hosting, cooking and entertaining that was on the approach.
The owners had kindly left us a Christmas tree although, (just quietly), it was fake (not a fan), short (looked a little lost), and bald (what happened to its branches?). It had a couple of baubles on its handful of branches and two rows of tinsel. I do hate to sound ungrateful but the tree just looked incredibly sad. Fortunately I had packed my hundreds of tree lights and all my decorations and after it was burdened with a touch of Sydney and had been given a fabulous make-over, it greatly improved (I felt like a plastic surgeon!)
We started our Christmas Eve celebrations with drinks outside on the deck with dips and cheeses.
For dinner I baked a free-range leg of ham that weighed around 10kgs and was studded with cloves, rubbed with cinnamon and palm sugar and glazed with apricot jam mixed with sherry. It was served with slices of grilled fresh pineapple and cherry chutney.
The ham was served with crispy duck fat potatoes cooked with rosemary. I cooked a few kilos of these and there wasn’t one leftover.
I made an iceberg lettuce salad with the lettuce cut into wedges, topped with a variety of finely cut herbs, toasted pine nuts and crispy bacon – because you need crispy bacon when you have 10kgs of ham! And the salad was dressed with a buttermilk, lemon juice and grated parmesan dressing.
Now there was dessert but with all the Christmas merriment I seem to have neglected to take any photos but we cut into a festive fruit and nut cake I had packed in the esky and brought with me from Sydney, and some chocolates, nougat and fudge. Just in case anyone was suffering from low sugar levels.
Then it was time to relax our stomach muscles and watch the carols live from the Myer Music Bowl.
After the carols we walked off a bit of the huge dinner with a stroll around the neighbourhood enjoying all the brilliant Christmas lights.
Back home, the children were put to bed as they wrestled with falling asleep on this, the most exciting night of the year. The stockings were filled and the lights turned out as we waited for Christmas morn.