Aside from Halloween, where I get to let my freak out, Christmas is my favourite time of year. Rob adores it too, so there are two grown adults acting like excited kids in our house over the festive period!
It all starts with that crisp and chilly anticipation in the November London air. Days get shorter, night time starts whilst you are still in the office, and by the time you leave for home the lights are twinkling and there is a festive feel. In Canary Wharf, where we both lived and worked, Christmas stalls pop up that sell German goodies (why is Christmas so German in London?!) such as stollen, lebkuchen, zimtsterne and everyone’s favourite, gluhwein (that’s mulled wine to you and I). Seeing this everyday on your way home from work really gets that festive spirit going. These stalls spread around London like wild fire. They have a German market outside The O2, which just so happens to house our local cinema so we are there frequently. Then the lights on Regent Street and Carnaby Street are turned on, and all of a sudden shopping in the extreme throng of frenzied tourists just isn’t so bad, it’s pretty darn beautiful! Outdoor ice-skating rinks pop up in the most amazing venues – Somerset House, Tower of London, The Natural History Museum are among my favourites. We go every year
Then Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park and Taste of Christmas arrive and you know that Christmas really is just around the corner. Borough Market starts selling hot cider in addition to all of it’s yummy offerings, and mince pies are consumed by the dozen. Work Christmas parties are planned, and the Christmas Coca Cola and Marks and Spencer tv ad’s are an institution
Every year we have Christmas Day with Rob’s family, and then my family come to our house for Boxing Day. On both days we open stacks of presents and eat a huge roast dinner consisting of as many different meats and trimmings as we can fit on our
always too small table
I LOVE Christmas shopping for my family. I’ve always been very good at getting them the presents that suit them, a talent I share with my sister Danielle. I must admit, I am phobic about shopping in London in the crowds (people actually touch you!) so I do most of my shopping online, but a couple of days during December we do brave the crowds to go and experience shopping in Central London. The grotto’s in Selfridges and other big departments stores are awesome, Hamley’s toy store display always makes you want to be 10 years old again, and Fortnum and Mason’s food hall is an amazing, delicious place (as my sister Rebecca will testify. She’s a little obsessed with that place)
This year, we will have Christmas in the sun. In Joburg this time of year is prime holiday season, and you will be hard pressed to find an available guest house in Cape Town, Durban and similar. The place is literally evacuated. We have been lucky enough that a good friend is from Mauritius, and he is going home for Christmas. He invited us to stay with him, so this year we are spending Christmas with his family, in the sun, in Mauritius. Awesome!
Yet, I can’t help yearning for a British Christmas. It was a white Christmas the last couple of years, so we spent the whole of Christmas day fretting that the car was going to be snowed in, eating way too much all day, spilling red wine on my sister in law’s new carpet, and wearing our warmest, snuggly clothes whilst falling asleep in front of Doctor Who. I do love a pair of wooly Christmas socks. My friends and I painstakingly choose our wooly footwear for the festive period weeks in advance. Totes rock my world
It’s summer in South Africa in December. Everywhere I look there are Christmas trees popping up in stores and Christmas music playing in shops. Still, I don’t feel remotely festive at all. This is so unlike me! The minute I can see my own breath on the air in London I start to feel festive! I’ve usually finished most of my shopping in November and have the whole month of December just eating and watching movies – Sky have a Christmas channel from November that plays all the old classics, and new ones too (Miracle on 34th Street, Elf and Bad Santa are non-negotiable viewing). It’s so strange to see Christmas things around here, yet you are covered in a high SPF cream and can’t go out without sunglasses lest you go blind
Nevertheless, Killick’s, Brown’s, Murarji’s, Webb’s and everyone in between – we love you and miss you. Have some Christmas pudding for us – I’m pretty sure we won’t be having any this year as Rob refuses to eat anyone elses other than his mum’s!
Vintage Rebecca and Martina. Danielle was a baby. I’m the one with The Fringe. Damn it