I mentioned at the end of last week’s blog that our principle activity would be to prepare Kergudon and the gîtes for our guests who have chosen to spend their Christmas here in Brittany (means they didn’t have to risk the Gatwick chaos!) This year is the first that we have guests staying with us in both Priory and Granary. Last year we had guests in Hayloft which we decorated with a green theme but didn’t think that would look good in Granary which has a bluer (if that’s a word!) décor.
This meant that we had to buy some new, blue, decorations – an investment for years to come. This proved easier in theory than practice. Dave managed to source some here before our trip to the UK but we felt that we needed a few more and, evidently, blue is not in fashion for British decorators this year! We did however see a number of other ideas to give us inspiration for both decorations and bigger things that we now want to do in the gîtes – the downside of going back!
We started on Priory Gite which, having decorated before, we did a similar styling to previously in traditional red and gold. With the living room of Priory being old with slate and beams, it makes a lovely cosy Christmas setting.
We have also again hung a garland over the old fireplace in the kitchen but have made it a more natural theme. Borrowing some of the ideas from a fabulous pub we stopped in near Winchester, we have used cinnamon sticks, walnuts, pinecones, and pheasant feathers on the garland with some artificial poinsettia flowers. We have also added dried orange slices and clementines which we dried ourselves. We had attempted to do this previously but the result was just a sticky mess. This year we thought it best to research how to do it properly and the results have been much more successful – although it did mean the oven was on all night so perhaps we will buy them in the future, at least the whole oranges.
Granary Gite was fun to decorate and this was the first year we needed to. The layout of the gîte has a dining room on the ground floor, next to the kitchen, and a separate lounge on the first floor. Sadly there is only space for 1 full size Christmas tree but, being on the ground floor, it is at least where our guests will sit down for Christmas lunch. It does however mean having to sacrifice one of the reading seats but it is a sacrifice worth making.
As an old building Granary also has 2 fireplaces and so mantles that are perfect for garlands, and one of our ‘natural’ garlands too.
We found the traditional French bar mirror above the lounge fireplace, obviously, on Freecycle in Clapham South. It was a little too large to fit in the boot of our car when we collected it so was hanging out the back when we made the slow drive through the backstreets of south west London before adorning our hallway in Balham. We think it looks fantastic now in Granary especially so when decorated.
Having done the gîtes there was also our own home to complete, although we started last week with the tree.
David was focussed on food and preparing some delicious treats for us and our guests. This included decorating three Christmas cakes, one for each gîte and one for us, which all look amazing, and finishing off the annual Christmas chutney which we include in the welcome baskets for our guests. Having a December birthday means I also get a ‘Christmas’ cake for my birthday – but we generally don’t start this until about March when the actual Christmas cake is finished and lasts until mid-summer!
We welcomed our guests to Priory and Granary on Friday and Saturday respectively and we hope they enjoy looking at the decorations as much as we enjoyed decorating.
I am posting this early as I don’t expect this afternoon, or indeed this coming week, to be the most productive as we settle down in front of the fire for Christmas week. We hope our guests, and of course all of you, have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy the festive season.