The presents are unwrapped, you’ve lost at Monopoly for the 50th time in 3 days and are starting to resemble a pig in blanket. Ever get cabin fever at Christmas? Fear not, there is plenty of fun to be had even if you just feel like going off by yourself for a selfish day, without ANY sale shopping and in some cases not spending any money (but everyone deserves a treat so there are some suggestions for that too!)
Skating at Somerset House
Ok, it’s a Christmas cliche. And I don’t actually like ice-skating. But it’s a magical part of London to soak up the festive atmosphere. You can sit and watch the skating world go by either at the side of the rink in heated tents or from within the Fortnum’s Lodge at Somerset House which is open until January 6th.
If the temperature takes a turn for the worse and you fancy a bit of modern culture, I can highly recommend the exhibition ‘Good Grief, Charlie Brown‘ showing at Somerset House until March 2019. Celebrating all things Snoopy and Peanuts comic strips, it’s one of the most well put together exhibitions I’ve been to.
Afterwards, lunch just over the road at Joe Allen is a must. Established in 1977 its a theatre-land classic serving up good American food with charming service and cult status.
Belgravia Christmas Decorations
Of course there are plenty of well-known spots to head to for London in all its festive glory (and if you use Instagram, you don’t even need to leave your sofa to spy them all). One of the areas that is slightly off the beaten track is the charming Elizabeth Street nestled in Belgravia.
A short walk from London Victoria station, Elizabeth Street belies its entry adjacent to the grit and grime of Victoria coach station. Walk a few paces further and you’re transported into a world which the ‘other half’ inhabit. First stop should be refreshments at Dominique Ansel which you can’t miss owing to its vibrant yellow canopy. Home of the cronut, it’s not a cheap place to stop for a cuppa and a cake but you can at least set foot inside unlike the somewhat pinker establishment further down the road…
The boutiques of Belgravia are probably out of most of our price ranges but at this time of year they look absolutely beautiful including Jo Loves, the inimitable Peggy Porschen (play spot the blogger from across the road, it will take you 0.0001 seconds to find one) and florist Moyses Stevens. If you’ve neglected to get your furry friend a Christmas gift (shame on you), head to upmarket Mungo and Maud for retribution.
Catch A Show
‘Tis the season of the pantomime and other festive theatrics. The Nutcracker runs until 30th December at the London Coliseum, whilst Swan Lake begins on January 3rd. We went to see Carmen at the Royal Opera House which has finished for Christmas but will return again in the summer. One to look out for if you’re not too much of a traditionalist and like alternative interpretations.
Take a Riverside Walk
So my mind was blown when the lady who walks Maddie when we’re at work told me that the heart app on the iphone monitors steps and distance walked. Without the need for any separate device. Ok, you have to have your phone with you at all times but that’s not difficult, it’s glued to me when I’m out and about.
Since I found out this gem of information about 5 days ago I’ve become addicted to walking everywhere trying to get my steps and distance up and it’s such a wonderful way to see the best of London. The classic walk is to start at the London Eye on the south side of the Thames and walk in the direction of London Bridge. You’ll pass so many iconic institutions along the way including the London Eye, the theatres, the Oxo Tower, the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Millennium Bridge to name a few.
A little further afield however is more my cup of tea, away from the madding crowds. Start with the Christmas market at London Bridge City and walk under Tower Bridge, following the cobbled street through Shad Thames. Here you can cut left through the buildings and walk along the river and honestly, it’s like being in a different world.
Carry along and you’re into Rotherhithe, reminiscent of a bygone era when London was a powerhouse in riverside trade. Many of the old wharf buildings still exist and many of the people who still lie in the area are descendants of dock workers. Carry on further still and you get to one of my favourite parts of London, Greenwich. We can be found here probably at least once a month, either walking Maddie in the park or exploring the market. Well worth a visit to outside of Central London.
Hopefully some of these may have inspired you to emerge from a sluggish Christmas funk and do a bit a of exploring. Plenty of time before the inevitable return to work/school/January blues! Have a wonderful Twixtmas.