I can’t quite believe it’s Christmas Eve! As children it was probably our favourite day of the year, full of excitement and anticipation. My youngest brother is ten years my junior, so even when I returned from university aged 18 or 19, I knew Santa Claus would be visiting our family home.
In adulthood, many Christmas Eves have seen me crazily making cranberry sauce, brining the turkey, baking the Yule log, setting the table, preparing the guest rooms etc etc. Just like any body else who is hosting Christmas in their home. And I loved it. But this year, the children and I are going to my parents’ home tomorrow along with my brothers and their families and I can’t wait.
I’ve spent the last three days in London with my parents and children and it’s been amazing, spectacular, wonderful, fantastic. Every positive superlative. Our stunning capital city excelled herself and I’ve never seen such a cosmopolitan and diverse mix of people visiting. The vibe was one of happiness and excitement and even the underground seemed more relaxed than usual.
All of these photographs were taken on my iPhone, so some are a little blurred especially those taken at night, and in fact, because the broadband is still not installed and won’t be for a while yet, (I can’t believe how much we miss it), I’m writing this blog post on my phone too. So, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping it looks ok, is formatted correctly and that it captures the spirit of what was a fantastic few days.
On Sunday evening we went to Kew gardens. There was classical music playing along with Christmas music and everything was beautifully lit.
And we toasted marshmallows over a fire basket.
From Kew we headed to Westminster to see the City by night.
And happened across Paddington Bear
We started Monday with a visit to Harrods, mainly to see the beautiful windows. I’ve visited London over Christmas on several occasions but have never been as transfixed by the displays as I was this time. They were romantic and whimsical and appealed to me in every way.
And, I cannot deny having my head turned by the cars parked outside
Or indeed by the cakes and flowers in the Food Hall.
The scent from these flowers was just glorious.
On Monday afternoon we went to The Albert Hall for Anton and Erin’s Christmas Cracker. Hosted by Anton du Beke and his professional dance partner, Erin Boag (of Strictly Come Dancing fame). The London Symphony Orchestra played and there was a brilliant choir too playing a mixture of Christmas songs and Carols. And the millions of sequins meant I was in heaven. It was a privilege to be in such an iconic building.
After the concert we had less than thirty minutes to get to Hyde Park for The Magical Ice Kingdom which contained the most intricate ice sculptures I’ve ever seen. Huge sculptures in a vast space filled with Christmas trees.
There was quite a large funfair in Hyde Park too along with a huge Christmas market. Oh, and fake snow!
We wandered back to our hotel in Islington for a quick change and then headed for supper at Jamie’s Italian close to where we stayed.
On our final day we went to Oxford Street which was surprisingly civilised given it was December 23rd. We admired the windows in John Lewis- not as spectacular as Harrods but lovely to see Monty the Penguin from the TV ad. In fact we went up to the roof garden to look at Monty’s Kingdom and had the requisite photo with him.
When we came out, The Ebony Steel Band were playing. My parents recalled them from last year actually. They played a continuous medley of Christmas songs, carols and current chart music. It was beyond brilliant. A crowd gathered and everyone was smiling and tapping their feet. The NSPCC were benefitting from donations and they got people up to dance. Such a lovely atmosphere.
And needing little encouragement when dancing is involved, I joined in.
My children were not at all embarrassed.
Happy, Happy Christmas!