The LSH and I spent the weekend in London with our daughters for an early family Christmas. The ED is going skiing with her boyfriend over the holiday period and the YD will be working, so for the first time ever, our family is spending Christmas apart.
We arrived at Stanstead late on Thursday, stayed in a hotel at the airport and met the YD off her plane from Cork. Much to her surprise – she hadn’t realised we’d be there! Good job we didn’t miss her, that would have been a bad start to the weekend, especially since she had no credit on her phone and couldn’t receive calls! We had breakfast in the hotel (it was included in the room rate, we had to eat it!) and I have to say it was the best hotel-buffet-breakfast I’ve ever seen. The Radisson Blu at Stanstead – they had just about anything you could possibly want for brekkie, from a Full English to fruit and yoghurt and everything in between.
After that, we went out to the ED’s house in Stamford Hill (yup, she lives in the Hasidic Jewish area) and we all went for Second Breakfast/Brunch. This was in a Turkish café in Stoke Newington. The food was very different – for example, I had two poached eggs in yoghurt with garlic and paprika. Tasty, but not typical breakfast food – or lunch food, for that matter.
Full and ready for anything, we made our way into town. On a red bus. We sat at the front, like tourists. Well, I guess we were tourists.
Over the course of the weekend, we shopped. And we shopped. And we shopped some more. We did posh expensive shops and we did the markets.
I’m a pretty lousy shopper, usually, but I got into the swing of it and came home with some fancy thermal gear from Uniqlo (my new favourite shop) and a new leather bag.
We had fun browsing around Camden market. The part I like best is the Stables Market. It’s built on the site of a vast stabling complex, which at one stage housed over 400 horses – barge horses and dray horses. To commemorate this heritage, there are lifesize horse statues scattered all over the place.
Some of them are even bigger than lifesize!
We didn’t buy anything there, though – I found it all began to look the same after a while, although two items did stand out…
This made me think of Rara Saur, whose blog I dip into regularly :
and this made me think of my friend Jane :
On Friday evening, we ate in an Indian restaurant on Brick Lane. The food was ok, but the restaurant was crammed (there were two very large tables of Christmas revellers) and the staff were pretty stressed out. It’s not nice to be a guest in a place where the atmosphere is so tense. On Saturday night, we ate in a Thai restaurant in Stoke Newington which was much better all round – nicer food and happier staff! Then on Sunday, we had our Pseudo-Christmas dinner in the Hawksmoor near Spitalfield Market (after trawling through the Flower Market on Columbia Rd and a craft market tucked into a big warehouse). The staff were OTT cheerful, but they were a good laugh and the food was excellent.
We had Great Intentions before the weekend, of course. We thought we’d go to a movie, or a show, or one or two museums and we’d absolutely, definitely go ice-skating. We managed to get to a photographic exhibition at the National History Museum and we stopped in on the opening of a furniture design shop which is run by one of Aideen’s friends and we had a tour of the furniture workshop where her boyfriend works, but apart from that, we shopped. And we ate. And we slept. And, in a strange reversal of roles, we followed our confident and self-assured Eldest Daughter as she made her way unerringly around this big city she now calls home, hopping on and off public transport as we went. That was weird.
It was a lovely weekend with our girls. It just didn’t feel like Christmas. It was very strange (and sad) saying goodbye and I suspect we are all going to miss each other like crazy on Christmas day.
We’ll just have to work on that post-Christmas get-together so we have something to look forward to.