Whoosh, there it was gone. Actually being at home for 10 days meant that I actually benefited from having a proper long Christmas. Not just working on Christmas Eve, a rush of presents, food and booze and then back to the office two days later.
Being home for Christmas was great, there was a lot of driving, late nights and early mornings and sad goodbyes, but I'm glad we did it as it's given us some fond memories, at least until the next time.
Initially we were in deepest Essex, well Hornchurch really, then we spent a couple of days in town and in particular around my brother's manor, London Fields near Hackney. London Fields itself is almo
st 500 years old and includes a Lido
and a BMX track. It's cycle path runs from pretty much my brother's place to the lively Broadway Market
. The food market on Saturday morning was perfect to blow away a night's excesses and lying next to the Regents Canal it is a great spot for a stroll. And just 10 minutes into Liverpool St station, it was a convenient base.
One day I had the pleasure of meeting an old mate for lunch who took me to Sweetings Restaurant
in the city. The restaurant describes itself as "probably the oldest fish and oyster restaurant in London,"
certainly it had much elegant charm, as did the Polish lady who served us our lunch (the skate was fantastic) at our very own mahogany counter. That night my brother took us to Shoreditch House
, as contrasting an experience as you can get in one day. That was a great 24 hours.
I found myself drawn to Harvey Nichols
more than once, as did my credit card. The Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
(below) was ace and just around the corner from the Mandarin Oriental
where we spent a night after dinner
with some friends. Then on Sunday night w
e were at the Oxford Ice Rink
watching proud-other-half's niece in an ice skating show. Caffeine was the order of the day let me tell you. Monday into Covent Garden and a drink in the Punch and Judy
, that gaff hasn't changed and nor have the customers since I was last in there about 20 years ago.
My 2nd curry of the trip after the traditional Essex one was Monday night in Chislehurst, a jolly night out with some old friends, and then Tuesday Wagamamas
, the "red snapper will make you purr like a pussy cat,"
said our excitable waiter. I had the Teppan. And then Tuesday night I picked my son up and Christmas really got started. His face Christmas morning as he stared at the snowy footsteps and half eaten strewn carrots in my other half's sister's living room was a treat to behold.
Christmas Day in a little village in Oxfordshire, Boxing Day in a little village in East Sussex, it didn't snow but it had everything else.