Christmas Lights in the West End 2018 – epic part two!

Thursday, 3rd January, 2019

Today was my day to venture back to the West End to see more Christmas Lights. My plan was to start at Selfridges, go down New Bond Street to Fortnum & Mason, then along Piccadilly and end up at Chinatown again to buy some dim sum supplies and two new steamer baskets. I think I did pretty well.

I started out around 3pm by taking the bus to Bethnal Green. On the bus I thought I saw Gemma Collins but perhaps not. This version was neater, a bit trimmer, and understated but maybe the on-screen Gemma is more outrageous.  Then I took the Central line to Bond Street, Yes! I hardly ever take the tube. I really don’t like being underground but sometimes I just go for it.

I arrived at Bond Street just as it was getting dark, but not dark enough to see the lights at their best. Luckily I’d already seen Oxford Street and my only reason for being there was to see Selfridges a few minutes’ walk away. But I did take in the crowds on the street. Everyone must still be on holiday! And I took a lot of photos so sit back. As far as photos go, this will be epic, starting with a good look at Oxford Street.

Sadly, when I got to Selfridges the windows were all papered over. I’d missed them! So I walked towards the food hall anyway, to see what was going on there. That’s when I saw that a few windows at the Food Hall side were still there.  To be honest, I can’t say I was too impressed.

Selfridge’s Food Hall is always a favourite. I actually like it better than Harrods – at least I can afford some of the food there. This time was a disappointment.  I couldn’t see all the counters I was used to. Perhaps it’s a Christmas thing or maybe things have changed. Nothing stays the same but some things I just count on! I did cruise around though and see what I could see.

Coming up to the Food Hall at Selfridges
Coming up to the Food Hall at Selfridges
Selfridge's fish counter
Selfridges’ fish counter
I was pretty tempted by the middle eastern snacks
I was pretty tempted by the Middle Eastern snacks
Selfridges
Selfridges
Snowflakes projected on the pavement, Oxford Street
Snowflakes projected on the pavement, Oxford Street – confusing babies and dogs!
It isn't always junk food
It isn’t always junk food

Keep reading! There’s loads more to come.  Continue reading “Christmas Lights in the West End 2018 – epic part two!”

New Year and the ballet

Wednesday, 2 January, 2019

New Year in London is a big deal – just not for me! I usually stay home and don’t do much but I was busy nonetheless. I popped out to the pub around 7pm and chose a pizza – my first one from there – to take away. They took a long time to make it so I was suspicious. I kept remembering how fast the pizzas were made in Torino so what were they doing back there?

The pub has been taken over by a local craft beer company
The pub has been taken over by a local craft beer company

I decided to go the whole way and make it a junk food night so also went to buy some wings and fries. Another long wait and second thoughts later, I arrived home with pizza, five chicken wings and fries. None of it was worth eating but at least I wasn’t hungry after picking at it. I’ll never learn that these things are rarely worth trying! I watched the fireworks on TV and some out of the window and fell into bed. Happy New Year!

On January 2nd I had tickets for a ballet. It was meant to be a surprise for Krish but he wasn’t in the mood so I asked my friend Juliet if she was up to coming and she said yes. But first I was going to take myself out for lunch and then wander around a bit at Angel, which might be pretty at Christmas.

I wanted to try the BunBunBun newly opened location in Dalston so allowed plenty of time to get there and eat and set off again.

BunBunBun, Dalston - a spare setting
BunBunBun, Dalston – a spare setting
Bun Cha, my lunch
Bun Cha, my lunch

I ordered the Bún chả Hà Nội –‘Served as it is served in Hanoi [grilled lemongrass pork, mini grilled pork patties in a meat broth with a crispy spring roll]. sounded intriguing. and it was.’ My whole review is here! I’ll go back and try something else soon to see if the rest of the menu measures up. I’d love to do a foodie trip to Vietnam. Continue reading “New Year and the ballet”

Christmas Lights in London

Thursday,  27 December, 2018

There are two enduring memories of going to the west end at Christmas as a child and teenager. The beautiful windows, especially at Selfridges, and the magic of Liberty at Christmas. I’d have saved some money and off I’d go. I remember nothing of the window displays now other than they were beautiful, and so many of them. I’d always feel I could go window shopping on Oxford Street and not care if I bought a thing. The looking was even better than buying – since it was unlimited. Then Liberty always felt like a hidden treasure. Even today I know people who aren’t sure where it is or say they haven’t seen it.

This year I hadn’t made it down to the west end, ‘up west’ as they say. I made a plan to get there before the lights were turned off and I knew I couldn’t see it all in one trip. So I planned two. Part one would take me from Covent Garden to Chinatown, Soho, Regent Street, and Oxford Street. Part two would take me to Piccadilly, Bond Street, then New Bond Street, and up to Selfridges. Even then I wouldn’t see it all. No Trafalgar Square, no Marylebone…but that’s OK.

I don’t think I went to Covent Garden when I was younger. If I did, I don’t remember it. At any rate, it would have been a wholesale market and not that interesting to me. Now I know it really well and, although I put it low on my list because of the crowds of tourists, there are some things I do like about it and some shops you can’t find anywhere else – it is where the most concentrated collection of shoe shops is, so yes I do go sometimes. This time it was about the shops and the lights and the little inside courtyards I wanted to see.

At Seven Dials, and not quite dark enough to appreciate the lights
At Seven Dials, and not quite dark enough to appreciate the lights
Covent Garden Market Hall
Covent Garden Market Hall
Inside the Hall is the Apple Market
I loved the mistletoe lights
I loved the mistletoe lights
…and these large silver baubles
But the throngs of people make it a lot less magical
But the throngs of people make it a lot less magical
..so it's nice when you step outside a bit and see there's magic after all
..so it’s nice when you step outside a bit and see there’s magic after all

Inside Pollocks Toy Museum shop
Inside Pollocks Toy Museum shop

Continue reading “Christmas Lights in London”

Christmas 2019

Tuesday, Wednesday 25-26 December, 2018

A nice dry day for Christmas. Lots for me to do. Luckily, I’d wrapped Krish’s presents the night before.  Christmas rituals – Christmas lights, Christmas candles, Christmas music.

The crazy thing was that, along with the two wrapped presents for Krish under the tree – OK, the poinsettia – there were four wrapped presents for me. This is actually the first time this has ever happened. He really has found the Christmas spirit, at least for this year!

Presents!
Presents!

Then I made eggnog as a surprise. Krish yearns for it every year.

I belong to three Facebook pages for Canadians. Two for London, one for the UK. Eggnog is a huge topic at Christmas, how everyone misses it, where can you buy it, if only there were eggnog… In a blog I read regularly, I found a recipe and decided to give it a go. It’s made with whole creamy milk, double cream, sugar, egg yolks, and nutmeg. I nailed it! It tastes perfect. A big hit!

First try at eggnog - nailed it!
First try at eggnog – nailed it!

And I made stuffing and cranberry rolls instead of sausage rolls this year. Sounds odd but stuffing in the UK isn’t the bread affair it is in Canada. It’s mostly sausage meat, with herbs and onions.  Some ready-to-cook stuffing topped with freshly made cranberry sauce and sealed all around. I actually really liked this. Lighter and less salty than a sausage roll. New favourite!

My presents were: Three books, and two espresso cups so I can start using my moka now – have been hesitating on that! The books were typical Krish choice – To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Unfinished Palazzo, and The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici. I’ve started on the introduction to the second.

My Christmas books
My Christmas books
Espresso cups
Espresso cups

For Krish this year I wanted to focus on memories – the egg nog is part of that. Then I got him a clockwork toy from Bazar Bonino in Torino, and a large box of meccano, which I saw advertised on the local neighbourhood site. All three were a really big success but I knew the meccano would shock and delight him – he was dumbfounded. I hope he makes something with it. I’ll never be able to top this gift.

German clockwork toy
German clockwork toy
Box of meccano
Box of meccano

We watched a lot of romantic Christmas movies. Silly ones. Krish was in charge of cooking. We had pork pie, some leftover quiche, and raw veggies for lunch and for dinner, a steak with mashed potatoes and some red cabbage. Food bulletin done. No photos of the plate before we started!

Time for a rest
Time for a rest

Boxing Day has been mostly quieter. I’ve done some organising and some catching up on this and that. And now we’re making the late Christmas dinner between us.  Stay tuned.

Dinner is done and Christmas proper is over for another year.

Traditional Chrismas dinner - roasted potatoes, turkey, stuffing, brussel sprouts, with gravy, cranberry sauce and pickles
Traditional Chrismas dinner – roasted potatoes, turkey, stuffing, brussel sprouts, with gravy, cranberry sauce and pickles
Mince pie, vanilla cream, cuppa tea!
Mince pie, vanilla cream, cuppa tea!
And we're done
And we’re done

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Christmas Eve – Monday, 24 December, 2018

Even a found Christmas can be dull and gloomy and it was like that when I headed out to Brick Lane on the Saturday before Christmas – Christmas Eve Eve! I visited the hairdresser and trusted my head to her. I came away wondering just what she’d changed – there was very little hair on the floor and more time spent on diffusing and perfecting my curls than cutting – but the back did look better, I’d had a good time, and I wasn’t upset. That’s a major achievement.

I stopped at Ambala for some samosas and grabbed a chicken tikka roll for some lunch. But the view from Whitechapel was dismal.

The East London mosque
The East London mosque
The gloaming!
The gloaming!

My friend, Judy, sent me a message when I got on the bus and we switched to talking for real (yes!). The whole of Cambridge Heath Road and Mare Street was the same dismal grey as Whitechapel Road had been. And then we passed Mare Street Market and the lights caught my eye. I had to get out to look more closely.

Inside was a real Christmas grotto. I wandered around and enjoyed the atmosphere, everyone laughing and everything glistening.


Continue reading “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!”