Friday, 12 December 2014

Christmas in London: Winter Wonderland

London does Christmas. In the lead up, I was told, “London..nah, nothing really happens at Christmas, they don’t really get into it.”

Whoever said that was an idiot.
(NB, I can’t remember who it was…so uh…sorry if I like you and just called you an idiot)

London does Christmas. As it is dark by 3pm (a slight exaggeration, it’s about 3.30pm), this truly is the city for Christmas lights. Even the littlest of county’s are decked with sparkles; the little orbs in Hammersmith are particularly lovely. The shopping centres are filled with massive twinkling tree-like structures and ice rinks - and I don’t know if it is because I am so over-excited for Christmas, but I have barely even noticed Christmas carols being played on repeat in the stores. 

Ugly Christmas sweaters. Christmas themed hand warmers, gloves, scarves and beanies (mostly a la Primark). Christmas socks, pyjamas, pants (that’s underwear for all you Aussie folks). Everything you could normally get, there is now a Christmas version of it. And it is all so delightfully wintry. 

In a Christmas bauble!

A foreign concept to a warm-weather creature such as myself. 

Winter Wonderland is a culmination of all things festive. Situated in Hyde Park, it spans a huge area full of rides, markets and food and drink stalls. It’s the Royal Adelaide Show, but free - and Christmas themed. I almost died of happiness.

Throw the ball, Christmas style!

I visited on Wednesday night; a night so chosen as to try to avoid a painful weekend crowd. Becki, Nicole and Cory in tow we met in the freezing night air all ready to go iceskating. I was alternating between clapping my hands with glee like a child and lamenting “Oh, what have I done?”. After some german sausage (everyone needs some german sausage), I skulled a mulled wine  (for confidence) and we made our way onto the ice.

Zoom, round and round

I approached the ice like a baby giraffe. I felt like my legs would go every which way, as I stumbled with shaking legs around my first couple of laps. I stayed close to a wall, skirting it so I could reach out to grab at the moment it looked like I were to go head over heels. Cory, Canadian, took to the ice like he’d been born for it. Becki, much practised, hands clasped behind her back swirled around the rink. Nicole, confident, zoomed past me.

To be fair, I hadn’t ice skated since my second knee reconstruction (or my ankle injury for that matter) so I was worried how my legs would hold up and, knowing me, if I did fall over I had the potential to do some serious damage (coz that’s just how I roll).

Lo and behold, there was not a single stack. Not one of us went arse-up. Soon, the mulled wine settled in and I gained in confidence, seeing how fast I could get around the loop, flailing my arms wildly when I started to wobble. The main problem was the sheer number of people on the rink - at times it bottle necked and with my wonderful ability to stop (read: I can’t stop) meant that I ran into the back of someone. 

I belted out the Christmas and non-Christmas tunes. I skated as fast as I could. I went cross eyed looking at the frost dragon of my breathing. The fairy lights above me. The tree decked out in the middle. The hubbub of the crowd around. 

Ice skating, outside, in the cold night air at Christmas time. Perfection.

I will miss my family and friends this Christmas, but between London and its sites and all the activities I have to distract myself, I think this Christmas will be incredible.

It’s not long now.

Complete with Christmas sweater!