Christmas in London

Posted on December 30, 2017 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

regents street christmas lights

Regent Street's Christmas lights

 

Apparently, the British are the most Christmas-obsessed people in the world, according to the results of a recent research. This doesn't seem to surprise me judging from shoppers' behaviour before Christmas. However, there is also a large population of people here who, under different circumstances, do not have families to celebrate with. Hence, Christmas can be quite daunting for those who don't share the festive mood or joy.

This year, a group of Network Rail workers organised an alcohol-free four-course Christmas meal for 200 homeless people at the normally commuter-packed concourse inside Euston Station. Perhaps more cities should follow suit so that the homeless could share the festive spirit for just even a day.

 

st paul's cathedral

christmas lights tate britain

christmas lights tate britain  christmas lights tate britain

christmas lights

2nd & 3rd row: Playful 'Home for Christmas' art installations by English artist Alan Kane at Tate Britain; last row: love the Christmas decorations outside of this house in Clerkenwell!

 

Since I started the business 6 years ago, the few weeks running up to Christmas had been extremely hectic and stressful. I would either get sick or be exhausted by the time Christmas arrives, so the word 'Christmas' has a completely different meaning for me and those of use who work in hospitality or retail-related businesses. I have also learnt that traveling around this period is a nightmare – especially if you are taking any kind of public transport – so I try to avoid it at all costs. When I went to meet up with my mother in Paris for Christmas last year, I caught the stomach flu bug after Christmas and ended up vomiting several times on Eurostar on my way back to London. Yes, it was memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.

Luckily, I have some friends in London who also don't have their families around, so I spent this period catching up with those whom I haven't seen for some time. With 5 festive meals in one week, it was probably a shock to my poor stomach, but at the same time, thoroughly enjoyable.

 

chilli cool

the wells  the wells

the wells  afternoon tea 

Festive indulgence – Top: pre-Christmas Sichuan dinner at Chilli cool; 2nd & 3rd left: Boxing day lunch at Hampstead's gastro pub The Wells; 3rd right: Festive afternoon tea with a free bottle of prosecco at the May Fair Hotel

 

And on Christmas day, I had arranged to meet up with my American friend in central London for an Indian Christmas lunch, which I considered to be quite unusual. The truth is that I couldn't find a restaurant/pub that wasn't overcharging on the day i.e. £75 or more for a so-called festive menu that didn't appeal to me at all; and since there was no transport on the day, I had to find a place where we could both reach (I was on foot and she was cycling).

Days before Christmas, we were anxiously checking the weather forecast to see if it would pour or snow, but luckily, the weather turned out to be quite mild though a bit grey (unlike the blue sky on Boxing day). The walk from my home to the restaurant took about 75 mins because I opted for a scenic route via Primrose Hill and Regent's Park; on route, I crossed paths with joggers and many independent tourists who were wandering and enjoying a much quieter London. Interestingly, I also walked past Euston station where I saw some homeless people and volunteers outside preparing for the Christmas meal event.

 

primrose hill

primrose hill

Regents park  euston

euston

euston

Walking through Primrose hill, Regent's park and Euston

 

Both my friend and I were very satisfied and pleased with the service, value and food quality at Salaam Namaste, and we spent a pleasant few hours savouring our tasty three-course Christmas lunch. I had so much food that I didn't even bother having dinner in the evening. Fortunately, the walk back home helped me to burn some calories...

 

Salaam Namaste  Salaam Namaste

Salaam Namaste  festive chocolate wreath

The 3-course Christmas lunch & a chocolate wreath – a gift from my friend

 

After I parted with my friend, I decided to take a different route back via Kings Cross and the canal. The roads were almost empty and there were very few people and traffic around the usually busy St Pancras Station. The city was surprisingly peaceful, and at the same time, quite surreal.

From Camley street, I crossed the Somers Town Bridge for the first time (I didn't even know about it before the day), which was opened in the summer. This lightweight and sleek steel bridge is designed by Moxon Architects, and it links Camley Street with the Gasholder Park. In the summer, this area would be quite busy, but on Christmas day, there were only a handful of people strolling around at a leisurely pace.

 

British library  kings cross

kings cross canal

kings cross canal

somers town

somers town

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street art  street art

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After walking along the canal for about 20 mins, I finally reached Camden town, where the canal ends. And what caught my attention here was the post-modern futuristic style architecture on the opposite side of the canal. This is the Camden Sainsburys and housing designed by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners in the late 1980s, apparently it was influenced by car manufacturing techniques. How interesting.

 

street art camden

street art camden

street art camden

street art camden  street art camden

street art camden

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The best part of my journey was to walk through an empty Camden Town! I have never seen Camden so quiet before, and so I took the opportunity to explore the area's vibrant street art.

Although I felt quite tired after the walk, I really enjoyed walking through London without the crowds and traffic. It enabled me to explore and see things that I might have missed normally, and best of all, it made me feel less guilty for indulging so much throughout this festive period.

 

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hampstead

hampstead  dog

Boxing day lunch and walking in Hampstead heath

 

After years of constantly aiming to spend Christmas elsewhere, I found staying in London for Christmas this year to be a pleasant and restful. Sometimes, the grass is not always greener on the other side, and maybe this is something I finally got to understand lately.

 

waterloo place

southbank

southbank

southbank

Live tango performance and dancing at the Southbank centre during the festive period

 

 


This post was posted in London, Food & dining, Architecture, Photography, Street art & graffiti, Hiking & walking, Street life and was tagged with London, architecture, Food & dining, street life, street art, walking, Christmas, Christmas lights

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