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I think that Australian Christmases are very civilised!

I was woken up by a loud menagerie of birds that started around 4am. The noises that came rough were beautiful and I can now really understand where Messiaen got his ideas for his many compositions based on birdsong.

Breakfast was already laid out when I went in at 8am and included a large selection of cereals freshly picked fruits, stewed fruits, yoghurts, honey from the garden and a juicer with plenty of fruit to squeeze for juice. I had a multigrain weet-bix and a piece of pumpkin bread toasted with the homemade honey on.

Following breakfast everyone gathered in the lounge and presents were gently passed out. I was nominated as an elf, but found that it was quite tricky as I didn’t know everyone’s name particularly well so managed to subtly hide from that duty! I was surprised to receive presents and was kindly given a couple of pairs of nice socks from The Walker family in Birmingham, a woollen jumper from Susie and Luciano, a very interesting book from Katy and Rob, a set of very nice Aesop’s products (Aesop’s is a very cool Australian soap and smelly things brand – something like the body shop I think) from Heather and Ian and a pair of board shorts and a rash vest for surfing and swimming in the Bass Strait next week from Amy.

After presents it was definitely time to start the cooking preparations. Ruth was in charge and set us all to work preparing Christmas lunch. Katy had been out early in the morning and had pulled up a good supply of carrots, picked loads of peas, beans & mange tous and produced a whole load of other fruit and veg fresh from the garden. I washed and chopped the carrots and was then free to take a back seat (14 people all cooking got a lot of work done very quickly) so set the table before taking a look at all the meat cooking on the BBQ.

Christmas lunch looked amazing spread out along the table on the veranda in the strong midday sunshine, I was very glad for the UV protective covering stopping us from being burnt to a crisp whilst still allowing plenty of sunshine through. Lunch included, BBQ beef fillet, a stuffed turkey breast and a whole turkey. All of which had been prepared on the outdoor BBQ oven.

The meal had a very homemade feel about it as Heather had hand prepared beautiful Christmas crackers which contained no jokes but a fun set of verses of the twelve days of Christmas which we each read out in order and contained the various stages of the love of turkey meat. From the beautiful whole turkey on day one, through cold turkey sandwiches, turkey curry, turkey mince and fried turkey.

After lunch – as normal – everyone had eaten themselves into a slight food coma and a few of us moved off to play a card game of 500 – a variation of bridge. I spent a little time writing up Christmas eve and gently allowing my lunch to settle before joining a team in the card game. It’s quite good fun when table talk is banned with your opposite partner whilst trying to communicate with your teammate next to you. It should be noted that cheating was much less prevalent in the southern hemisphere!

We also went out to see whether there were any animals lying around in the mid day heat. Unfortunately we found that a large Eucalyptus had split completely in two and part of it had landed slap bang on the only Pistachio tree (of the four) that had any fruit on it. A real shame, as they were not even close enough to being ready to harvest it and allow it to ripen in the sun.

There was no supper, but instead we sat down for Christmas pudding. Along side there were plenty of fresh fruits, fresh ice-cream and mixed berries; some that I’d never seen before. Logan berries, mulberries, blackberries, young berries and mulberries – all freshly picked from the garden by Luciano & Amy.

After supper we returned to the 500 table, this time the teams were Nick, Rob, Amy & I and Luciano & Ruth. Rob was our partner and together we managed to creep up to over 500 whilst the other pair lost many of their bids so crept down to -300 unfortunately they didn’t let us win a bid so we couldn’t win!

At 10pm I skyped home and spoke to mum and dad who sounded very prepared for the mass of people due to descend on the house. Jon and Heather were out so I missed them, but had a nice chat. The rest of the house were gently going to sleep and it was very dark so it wasn’t possible to stay up much longer, but it was nice to see the sun shining on Christmas day in the UK. It had been beautifully sunny here and a lovely temperature all day!

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