Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy Christmas!

It has been a magic time, with the full range of traditional English Christmas:holly, ivy, watercress,snow, music, Messiah, Vivaldi, fairs, markets, family, and friends. 
We've had a fine time in London, with snow and full moon in Hampstead, browsing Covent Garden, Harrods, Bond Street, Burlington Mall, Selfridges, James Street, all the other West End offerings, and lots of walking, averaging around four miles a day. Found the most amazingly huge and wonderful mall in Shepherd's Bush ("Westfield Mall"). A lovely moonlit stroll down Embassy Row just west of Kensington Park and tea at the "Orangery" at Kensington Palace. Almost got locked in the park, as it closes after dark... Found the German Christmas Market in Hyde Park, full with roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, hand-blown glass tree ornaments, and Moravian stars. Supper at the Sherlock Holmes, went to hear Messiah at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. It was a perfect rendition. 
We walked down to Wapping High Street and visited the butcher, garden shop, green grocer, and pharmacy. It was like walking through a rift in the curtain of time: suddenly it was 1950 all over again... :-) The butcher is amazingly deft with his cleaver, with apparent total disregard for his thumb just millimeters away from the aimpoint. (I couldn't watch after the first blow... :-(
Found a lovely holly wreath and real mistletoe, now adorning the boat inside and out. Delightful. The last time I saw a holly wreath was when I made one myself as a college student after cutting the holly in the forest. And I can't remember the last time I saw real mistletoe. (Although she did warn us that the berries are deadly poison, especially for cats... :-(
And found once again that we have two cultures divided by a common language: I've been looking everywhere for "mineral oil" to lubricate a pump. Getting constant stares and shrugs. Never heard of it, they say. Well, browsing this anachronistic little pharmacy I found "liquid paraffin". Yup. Same stuff... :-)
The single-handed trip down from Shepperton to Teddington was "interesting", what with unmanned locks ("self-service") and *literally*frozen lock controls, then a white-out mini-blizzard once on the Thames below Teddington. No one else on the river, except for scullers and rowers with total ignorance of the laws of gross tonnage and too many lights... :-) 
So, living a full life, just wishing we could all be together all the time.

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