Travel: Christmastime at London

This Christmas we traveled to London to spend the holiday with my sister and her family. The trip had a promising start: finishing the entire new season of Peaky Blinders on the flight over. After arriving in London, we took a walk around Northcote Road and checked out the various stores with their beautiful Christmas displays including my favorite Biscuiteers cookie shop. That evening we went to Kew Gardens for the annual Christmas light show, which included creepy singing trees, a fountain show featuring all of Mariah Carey’s festive tunes, and their fantastic gift shop.

On Christmas Eve I did some last minute stocking stuffer shopping. Mostly I just bought cards for myself at Paperchase and a book at Waterstone’s, clearly violating the rule that you should not buy things for yourself right before Christmas. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to not purchase any physical books and instead only stick to Kindle versions so I made sure to stock up ahead of my New Year’s Day deadline. We then made our way to Westminster Abbey for their Lessons and Carols service. They sang the wrong version of “In the Bleak Midwinter” (by that I mean the original and probably correct version but not the one I’m most familiar with) and about eight verses of each carol but it really was a lovely service. For dinner we had a very unique experience: eating in an “igloo” along South Bank. Dinner included starters like Smoked Goat Curd, Roasted Pumpkin, Pickled Beetroot, Toasted Hazelnuts; fondue as the main course; and a Blackberry Ripple Mousse with spiced crumble, compote, fresh winter berries.

We started Christmas morning by opening up our stockings. Mine was filled with vegan goodies, warm socks, a mug from Kew Gardens that my mom had sneakily purchased without me noticing, and other trinkets. Mama and I then took a walk around Clapham Common where we saw other families taking their mid-day Christmas stroll and encountered possibly the most British looking man I’ve ever seen. He was complete with his tweed hat, hands behind his back, trench coat, and silvery-grey Cairn pup. We then wandered over to Starbucks, the only open game in town (we felt appropriately American sitting there drinking our Americanos) and then made it back in time for opening more presents. My brother-in-law made a delicious meal of purple mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, green beans, squash, and macaroni and cheese. Dessert was vegan brownies for me and praline pecan ice cream and bourbon pecan pie for the rest.

For Boxing Day we had a leisurely stroll to Foyle’s flagship bookstore at Charing Cross before making our way to Somerset House. We did some ice skating while my nephew looked on providing key sports commentary.

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