Thursday, December 26, 2013

Carols, snoozes and fans everywhere!

Greetings, and a very Merry Christmas to one and all!

It has been some time since my last post - a Conference and then the build-up to Christmas have meant that I have been a busy fellow, and not able to spare the half hour-plus needed to get a blog together. Apologies, and hopefully things will calm down enough for me to write a little more regularly

So - yesterday was Christmas. Our last at La Rochelle and what an extraordinary Christmas we had!

Those of you familiar with the hotel will know that I normally cater for 120+ on Christmas Day, and we usually serve lunch out by the pool. But this year, with the uncertainty as to how many staff we would have left, I decided to just cater for the in-house guests. The Lunch itself was unremarkable, with Haddock Pate, Tomato Soup with Gin, Baked Ham in Sherry/mustard Glaze or Stuffed Chicken, followed by Malt/Caramel/Chocolate Ice-cream or Brandied Fruit Pudding with Coffee and Mince Pies to end. Pretty standard stuff.

What was remarkable, extraordinary, and quite frankly very special, was the Carol Service we had on Christmas morning after breakfast. The hotel had been booked by a family, and they decided that they would like to have a carol service, instead of driving 17km into Mutare to Church. We also had staying with us an extremely talented pianist...... but no piano in the hotel.

So - what to do?

Quite simple really - after breakfast all the Guests wandered down to the school, where there is a piano. This photo is of the walk home, but you get the general idea: guests and family all over the show:

At the start of the service our pianist checked the instrument. The school was a little hot, but no-one seemed to mind, and we had seven carols and seven readings. Having watched the 'Kings Carol Service' (from Cambridge) on television the previous day, I can safely state that while we may not have matched their performance, we certainly didn't fall far short of it! Indeed, our participants far outshone their erstwhile counterparts in England for grace and decorum. Here is photographic evidence of the La Rochelle Christmas Service of 2013:

Not the most traditional of Christmas decorations - but colourful all the same. And painted palms on the walls instead of the usual pine tree....

For such a small gathering, (and here I am being a little modest), our singing was excellent! 'Hark the herald angels', 'Away in a manger', and 'Once in Royal David's city' rang out through the mountains with much enthusiasm

'Thank you' to our guests for an amazing and special memory!

After the service, Christmas lunch was served in the hotel lounge, and while I cooked for that, my family went into Mutare and had a Christmas lunch with my wife's cousin's family...

With my work done in a hot kitchen on a hot day, and with the family having fun in Mutare, there was just one course of action to be taken that afternoon. Two good friends and I climbed onto my daughters bed - which has the best breeze through the windows in the whole house, I changed into a dry shirt, and we put our heads down:

And thus was Christmas Day at la Rochelle 2013.

So what was the highlight of  the day? Well, my vote goes to the 'opening of the presents ceremony' because, quite by coincidence, two of our daughters asked for exactly the same thing. So we bought them each what they had asked for.

The burning question is this.... which of my daughters do you think has been extra good this year, and which has been really rather naughty. See if you can tell:


Have a special holiday, and Merry Christmas!


  1. Hello Simon! So glad to read that your last Christmas at LaRochelle was so special. Wishing you and your lovely family the happiest of New Years! All the best, David Lawrence - Grace UMC VIM Team

  2. Hi - yes it was special! And - somehow, uniquely Zimbabwean!