Jack, of course, wanted a bonfire. I'd spent two days ripping into the front garden laurels and rhododendrons, and the back garden holly, hawthorn and privet hedges. We had plenty of fuel on hand, and more branches still strewn across the lawns. Earlier in the year, Jack had properly landscaped the 'pit', providing terracing and a paved path with handrail. If you didn't mind the mud and smoke, it amounted to a fine spectator facility.
James, Jon and Leone from Grimsby had never done anything as adventurous as this. (Leone sat in front of me, unconcerned in a faux lambs-skin hat.) Flora and Mum, over from China for the graduation ceremony, were quite excited too. Piers and Thea were with us for a few days, too, but Phil and Donna had changed their minds. Still, we made up quite a crowd. We warbled through some songs - something of a challenge when the overall light intensity on the books was only a few lumens (apart from the geeks with LED head-torches). We shared in turn what had been good about 2014. The words of appreciation for Mary at her 70th birthday, and sharing bedtime prayers with Ben and Ryan on our few days away together in Wales, came to my mind.
A few more songs, then it was hopes for 2015. Mine is that we do some decent fundraising for the several projects we've lined up for the Multiply trip to Kenya and Uganda in August. But that seemed a bit out of range for the immediate (and anyway, it's largely down to me to make it happen!). Maybe that's why Jack thought I'd skipped the evening.
At 10pm, a tall figure stalked along the drive. Viv had accepted Jonno's invitation to do the 'real thing' ('til past midnight) at No21, and called in on the way. Now Ray and Lil were getting cold, and Jack had expended all the fireworks, so we called halt.
I note from my diary that last year we spilled over into January 1. Perhaps creeping old age is beginning to tell on us all.