WOW…I woke up around 7:15 and thought, what the hell, it’s still dark out?! I looked up “sunrise in London” and it came up as 8:05…WHAT??..then looked up sunset and it was at 3:55…WHAT?? So, basically there’s only about 8 hours of daylight and it starts getting dark-ish. It’s great, though, in the morning… I slept in every day!
Knowing I’d be in London for Christmas by myself I had to plan something to make it a bit special, since I wouldn’t be with my family. I booked a 3-hour lunch cruise of the Thames. Festive, beautiful, relaxing! The tube and public transportation in general doesn’t run on Christmas so I took an Uber over to Westminster pier, on the water right next to Big Ben and Westminster Abby. It was so cool seeing those iconic landmarks so close (although scaffolding was up around the Abbey so that spoiled the pics from the water) I was so excited and the cruise started out magically, with a cool view from the water and my charming dining guests, who were from Sardinia, Italy. BUT….the lunch took forever, was just okay in taste….and in the end I would definitely recommend a cruise, just not one that includes a meal. It reminded me of the time years ago in Paris when I was given this same advice when the was-band and I went for a cruise on the Seine…do the cruise, skip the meal..so much better.
A few weeks before I was to leave, one of my friends, Verinda, was over for our weekly mahjongg game and was talking about her London trip. She has lots of family there and I basically asked if I could crash her Christmas dinner…ballsy!??
She, very graciously, said “Absolutely” and said I would be treated to “A proper English Christmas dinner.” So immediately after the cruise I took another Uber over to her husband’s cousin’s home and it was a lovely, yummy evening.
Their home was so beautiful, with a big open kitchen with red accents, decorated for Christmas and the food was amazing…lamb; roasted potatoes; roasted veggies; mushroom/cheese pie, that I loved; homemade gravy; brussel sprouts; and homemade yorkshire pudding that was light and fluffy and delish! There were 21 of us at the sprawling table festooned with those fun poppers that contain little paper hats, jokes and surprises..kind of like a cracker jack box.
It was so much fun seeing the kids open their gifts with such excitement….there were gift opening sessions about every hour or so…FUN! It was such a treat to be part of a beautiful English/Indian Christmas and they made me feel so at home.
It truly was a special “proper English Christmas dinner” that I will remember always! I was too pooped to stay for dessert so no pics of that, but I’m sure it was just as fabulous as dinner. I had a big walking day ahead of me…..
So, I went to bed really late…for me that means midnight…and slept until 9:00, which was awesome, but so weird at the same time. This was my wandering day and I didn’t care. I was in Camden Town (home of Camden Market and Camden Lock) by 10:15 and if you’ve ever been to Canal St in NYC it’s like that, on steroids! I went from booth to booth thinking it was a lot of touristy things…until I hit upon a couple of awesome shops and, not planning to, bought some funky, fun things.
After walking around for over an hour and having some coffee and a little snack at Camden Lock I ventured on to my next destination…Covent Garden and Trafalgar square.
Verinda’s cousin, Manjeet, had recommended I walk along the canal (instead of a busy commercial street) to make my way towards Covent Garden and what a great suggestion it was. It was so nice just strolling next to the water, seeing the locks, …the wandering is always the best part! After surfacing to the street, I found little alleyways and eventually made my way to Scarfes Bar in the Rosewood Hotel to sit down and read. I had done a little research before I left, googling “cozy pubs to read with a fireplace” and Scarfes was on the list. It’s actually quite large, but still felt cozy, and was so quiet when I arrived, I was seated in a little nook near the fireplace right next to bookshelves. What is it about a wall of old books that makes you feel like sitting and staying awhile?
I sat there for almost 2 hours enjoying a glass of wine and a FAB book. It felt so
quintessential Dickens Christmas and the artwork is a rotating selection of cartoons…really funny…
I continued my stroll around Covent garden, slipping in alleyways, walking to Trafalgar Square to see the fountain, Christmas tree and large menorah.
It was Monday and I thought to myself “hmmmm, pizza Monday, I should find a cute little Italian place. I’m not kidding, I looked across the street from where I was standing and there was an adorable place called Cicchetti…that is Kate’s mom’s maiden name!
What are the chances?! Kate said she’d never come across anything with that name when she was in Italy during college. Of course, I had to have pizza Monday there! I tucked myself into the corner of the bar to people watch and to enjoy the chef orchestrate the food in the large open pizza oven.
I’d pretty much been walking all day…time to take the tube home and go to sleep…another 11pm evening! My feet were tired!
You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!