Not the standard Christmas Day shot by any means! It was another damp, grey day, but after preparing the venison and getting it safely in the oven, Pete and I went up to Thorpe Wood for a breath of fresh air. We found more fungi than at any point in the autumn, including this rather peculiar looking cup-fungus which I'd never seen before, growing on an old hazel stem.
I received a new fungus book from Chris and Lizzy, one that had been on my to-buy list for some time, and I was immediately able to identify the mystery fungus as Spring Hazelcup. This fungus emerges as individuals or in clusters of tightly closed cups with a fuzzy outer surface. These cups open up to reveal a smooth, fertile, inner surface from which the spores are released. Eventually, the cups can flatten out completely to about 1.5 cm across, although some of them retain an enclosed form. It seems to be quite an uncommon species, particularly in the East Midlands, and according to the NBN, this is the first record for the Peterborough District.
The rest of Christmas Day was more traditional. The peach bellinis tasted particularly good after our walk, and our main meal of slow-roast haunch of venison with cranberries and chestnuts was amazing. Everyone agreed that it was much tastier than turkey, and as it was far less fuss to cook, it may become a new tradition. Several of us had home-made Christmas pudding for dessert (complete with flaming brandy), but those that don't like it had mulled wine sorbet, which was also voted a success. The meal lingered on through cheese and biscuits, port and liqueurs but we never made it to the chocolate mints - a first I think!