Friday, 4 December 2009

The show goes on

The show goes on

At last our 'Celebration of Christmas' fundraising event has taken place, so Marea and I can get on with Christmas. It seems to have taken over almost every waking hour in recent weeks; getting the acts together, printing programmes, making syrup for the mulled wine, etc., etc.

The event takes place at the Leicester Guildhall, a building that has had many uses and lives. The Great Hall itself was built in about 1390 as a meeting place for the Guild of Corpus Christi (a small but powerful group of businessman and gentry). Over the next hundred years the Great Hall was extended and the two wings at either end added. By the end of the 14th century the corporation of Leicester had begun to meet in the Guildhall. When the Guild was dissolved in 1548 the Corporation bought the buildings for the sum of £25 15s 4d! (£25.77 or $42.61 approx).

It's not an ideal building because we can only get 100 people in the audience, but it is quite magical with its log fire and oak beams

On arrival everyone gets a glass of mulled wine. I got fed up of all the mess with fruit, cinnamon and cloves, so I now make a syrup in advance and add syrup and wine together on the night in the urn. People seem to love it - there's never any left for me! (recipe at the end)

I intended to start with a comedian, but much to my chagrin, he didn't turn up, so I had to fill in with the compere just for a few minutes, then a few readings from John Owen who always finds something interesting and amusing to read.

Banjo Dez is an old friend of the charity and always goes down well with, in this case, what he, and they, describe as his three wives!

After the rather lengthy supper break with pork pies, cheese, quiches, etc., (this is rather like the most luxurious Victorian buffet you can imagine - the tables groan) we had a semi classical interval from T43, a trio of soloists from the local Bardi Symphony Orchestra. This, for me, was the most relaxing part of the evening - everything was going well and I had time to take a few photos.

The highlight of the evening for most of the audience was Will Chandler whose 'Cliff... as if!' tribute act to Cliff Richard is quite amazing.

He had the place swaying and rocking.

Will and T43 led the carols at the end and everyone seemed to go away happy. We loaded up all the equipment in the (by then) pouring rain and went home to collapse into bed.

The recipe

Mablethorpe Celebration Mulled Wine

Many mulled wine mixtures are ‘enhanced’ with all sorts of spices and other ingredients. Our mulled wine is made very simply with oranges, lemons, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and, of course, good red wine. It has been devised to bring out the taste of all the ingredients and to enhance the flavour of the wine by not being too sweet.


For 25 people drinking one glass each, you will need the following:
1.5 litres water2 sliced oranges2 sliced lemonscloves (6 or 8)6 tablespoons sugar (can be increased if you prefer a sweeter mix)cinnamon (5cm stick - do not use powdered cinnamon; this has only 2 uses, mincemeat and for sprinkling onto toasted teacakes.2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger (powdered ginger: see cinnamon above)2 bottles red wine
Quantities can be multiplied as needed.


Put the water on to boil in a very large pan - adding the rest of the ingredients will bring up the level considerably. Meanwhile, slice up the fruit, peel the ginger and chop it. If you wish, keep aside a few slices for decoration. Drop the fruit into the water, add the sugar and cloves and bring to the boil. As the water comes to the boil, crumble the cinnamon over the surface and stir in. Simmer for about 20 minutes with the lid off to fill the house with the smell of Christmas. After 20 minutes, take out the fruit and spices with a slotted spoon and dispose of them. Pour the syrup into a bowl through a sieve.

This syrup can be kept in the fridge for a week, or frozen for future use. (If freezing, use plastic containers or bottles and fill only to 5/6 of capacity.

To use

Simply add the syrup and wine together and heat gently. Do not boil as this will cause the alcohol to evaporate and impair the flavour. A slow cooker is ideal for the purpose.
Because the wine is diluted, everyone can enjoy our Mablethorpe Celebration Mulled Wine with little effect other than its warming and comforting quality.

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