The Christmas Season…London Style

Last Thursday morning, G and I weren’t entirely sure of what to do with our new-found time. Our families are out of town. Our friends are spending the holidays with their families. And we had decided to spend this year at home…avoiding the stress that can sometimes come along with holiday travels.

Given the drama with British Airways, Eurostar and the weather, we in some ways congratulated ourselves on our choice. But, given our friends’ frequent comments about ‘boring London’ at Christmastime, we were understandably uncertain of our choice.

Now, sitting at my desk on the 29th of December, I can honestly say that we’ve had a good time! So, if ever you find yourself in London over the Christmas holidays, it’s easy to have a great time. Here’s what we got up to:


Pre-Christmas Work Up:On the weekend before Christmas, we ventured to the ‘White Christmas Carol Concert’ at Royal Albert Hall. It was an absolute highlight. many who know us well are aware that G’s got the voice. I, however, sheepishly hide from singing in public. Thankfully, this carol concert was perfect—it wasn’t really a sing along. Instead, there were bits that you sang with the choir, but the on-stage talent did most of the work. Brilliant! And, somehow, G managed to snag a box to ourselves. So, we were able to enjoy our wine from interval in our seats and I didn’t have to hide my voice for fear of offending the neighbors. PERFECT!


Since we were in the area, we also ventured over to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. I believe this is the second year for the event. And while last year was a bit disappointing (the best bit was the chocolate covered fruit stand!), the folks in charge brought in all the rides and stalls from Oktoberfest for this year. We had a great time walking about eating cheese pretzels and appreciating a bit of the Bavarian spirit right here in London. Though, I have to admit that my favourite bit of it was the conversion of the usual rides to be in keeping with the ‘winter wonderland’. For instance, the little horsey ride for 2 year olds was converted to a ‘reindeer ride’ with the addition of antlers on the horses’ heads. I suppose a 2 year old wouldn’t know the difference? But it was funny to us as adults.


Christmas Eve: Our first stop was Borough market to buy the goods for our Christmas dinner. We set out in search of filet mignon, fresh artisan mushrooms, sweet potatoes, haricot verts (young, thin green beans), fresh ginger, yummy fresh cheeses, fresh bread. Borough is lovely year round and we love all the artisan foods we find there. We loved walking about because the small scale vendors are so passionate about their wares. In the end, we found our cheeses and treated ourselves to some nice Spanish chorizo, but moved on to Waitrose for the bulk of the goods we needed.


At home, we snacked and lounged and finally got ready for the evening’s church service. When we moved to London three years ago, a small church off Trafalgar Square was closed for renovations…called St Martin’s in the Fields. As we’ve been to St Pauls and Westminster Abbey for services before (and they’re infamous for the crowds they draw for Christmas Eve), we decided to head back to St Martin’s to appreciate the church in all its glory…free from scaffolds and draped with beautiful, fresh greenery and bows for the holidays. it’s an interesting church…it’s historic, of course. But it’s a bit of a mish mash of styles. There’s a Gaudi-esque semi-lighted window as a backdrop for the alter, but much of the church looks like those in Williamsburg with the huge brass light fixtures (the electric candle style ones that many American homes have reproductions of in the dining room) and a dark wood enclosure for the upper level. The church was lovely and the service was informal and perfect. Free of most of the formal pomp and circumstance that many of the famous churches have around the holidays. And, it was nice to go to a church service in English for a change. Two years ago, the service in Goa was in Hindi. And three years ago, we spent Christmas in a Salzburg church where German was spoken.

Then, off to the flat in advance of the freeze on transport.

On Christmas Day, there’s no active transport in London. Some black cabs are running, but they charge heavy rates for their holiday journeys. So, as such, we decided to stay home in Belsize for the day. And we had a great time! We made blueberry muffins for breakfast, opened gifts, went for a walk around Regent’s Park, played games, spoke with our families and made a wonderful (though non-traditional) Christmas Dinner. It was a restful day and well enjoyed! We didn’t miss the transport, or the shops. No worries–London can be a lot of fun. It’s like G’s dad says–so long as you’re in good company, you’ll have fun wherever you find yourself. Thankfully, G’s good company 🙂

In the days that followed Christmas, we’ve being equally subdued. Though, we have had a lot of fun. First, we went to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert (a show here in London based on the movie of the same name). It’s a great show. Really entertaining. It’s a bit outlandish, be prepared. A highlight of the show was a bit where the on-stage talent are twirling in cupcake costumes with birthday candles on their heads and see-through umbrellas extended from their hands. Anyone remember our cupcake parade in London a year or more ago? It made me chuckle to think of our embarassment when we learned that the newspaper column that directed our path lead us to a gay bar in Soho to ask if they had cupcakes for sale. oops!


We’ve also been to the Natural History Museum. We love their annual Wildlife Photography Exhibit which shows amateur photos of wildlife around the world. There are some really impressive shots and it’s always really inspiring for us as we love photography. And animals! Our favourite shot in this year’s exhibit showed a beautiful, healthy grey wolf jumping a garden fence in limited light–that would be an incredible challenge to capture. And this year, we paired the exhibit with ice skating around the outdoor rink there. Major credit to G who managed to keep me upright the ENTIRE hour that we were on the ice. Impressive! Especially given the number of small knee-height and waist-height children who innately cling to the nearest adult legs to stabilize themselves when wobbly. Danger for me, as an adult who’s equally wobbly! And it was the absolute best ice skating excursion I’ve had to date–there are white lights twinkling in the trees by the rink, the lighted facade of the museum in the backdrop and the white wonderland of ice all about you as you skate. The great thing about the rink on the day was that it wasn’t nearly as busy as at other times, but was busy enough for people to rough up the ice so that it’s not quite so slippery.

And yesterday, we stayed at home for most of the day but had discount movie vouchers for our local Belsize theatre and decided to trade them in to see Avatar. Anyone who hasn’t seen it MUST! It was such an incredible movie. It’s an incredible undertaking and well worth the time and money to see it. Wow!

Now, we’re in the midst of chores and organising. This will be our first extended holiday time at home. It’s been really nice for a change. G and I have never had more than 4 days at home with one another to just get things done–we always travel when we’re off from work. Now I more completely understand why coworkers and friends have ‘stay-cations’ at home 🙂

Now…what shall we do tomorrow then?

This entry was posted in Life in London and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.