London, Uncategorized

A merry little Christmas weekend in London.

London, baby!

It’s so close to Dublin that there’s no excuse for not popping over, of a weekend. And, yes, you may think you have accidentally landed in a Scandinavian country when you see how expensive things are BUT with so many free entry museums and parks you don’t need to sell your soul. Plus you have such a great choice of airports to choose from and Dublin to London Gatwick was only €80 return when we booked it about two months ago. Thirty minutes on the Gatwick express at the other side and you are in Central London in no time!20161209_195351

I do enjoy London, and I’m sure you’ll agree that even though you’ve been there a bazillion times before there is always something new to see or do in that bustling melee. New food markets to explore, new bars to visit (obvs so you can brag to your friends!), new exhibitions, new shows, new shops. It doesn’t get old. Whenever I pop over to London I, without fail, think ‘Why didn’t I ever move here? Sure, London would be great craic!’.

I LOVE strolling out of my hotel, stopping by a coffee shop, watching the commuters bustle past and go about their day as I wait for my take away steamed milk (yip, I order that. I’m that guy. Not sorry. I heart milk and not coffee.) and amble into the tube station. The tube map of meandering, coloured ribbons offers me endless opportunities for exploration. Which ribbon will I follow today?

You’re a beauty, Gloucester Road tube station!

My recent London visit was ever so festive. Come along on my London weekend visit with me.20161210_185538

Everyone knows the holiday begins once you drive to the airport and I choose to view battling the M50 car park as part of that! The discount code for the Quickpark at the airport this time was CURRAGH. (I’m pretty sure the person in charge of the Quickpark online discount codes is a huge dog-racing fan because the discount codes are usually greyhound racing related!) An obligatory, party drink at the bar and pre-boarding selfie meant we were on our way!

See ya soon, London!
Loved this passenger’s vintage suitcase!

This visit I stayed in Victoria, which is super central, not far from Westminster and an easy stroll to Buckingham Palace, should you wish to do so.

Iconic landmark Big Ben

This visit was a more festive, Christmassy affair and we somehow missed the memo that EVERYONE was to dress in ugly Christmas sweaters and Santa suits! It was jolly to see so many people getting into the holiday spirit, and likely full of spirits, as we wandered around the city!

On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a pub full of festive Santies!

No London visit is complete without a stop in Liberty and if you can battle the claustrophobia and crowds to see the view from the 4th floor it will all be worth it. I like to torture myself and gaze in envious wonder at the array of in vogue face crèmes, parfums, and intricate, authentic, hand-woven rugs and carved wooden Berber doors that are not going home with me.

I spy Liberty!


What a view from the 4th floor!

Liberty is at the entrance to Carnaby Street and not far from Chinatown. There is usually a street art installation hanging around the corner to Instagram and sure enough, the connecting bulbs were there on Ganton Street to be snapped. The street decoration theme this year was Revolution, with Baz Luhrmann-esque signs hanging every few feet announcing that Love, Joy, and Freedom triumphed.

A quick duck into any of the myriad of local bars for a deserved mulled cider was needed before continuing our meander.

Might I note that if you sign up to the Prezzo (a casual Italian, Milanos like chain restaurant) mailing list with a few simple details, they will email you a voucher for a free bottle of prosecco on your birthday. Worth a mention if you choose to coincide your trip with a birthday celebration. That’s bubbles at lunch or dinner, sorted!

Oh Camembert, I love you so!

Leisurely chats over baked camembert and bubbles with friends in one of London’s vast supply of restaurants means your afternoon can easily slip away and it’s time to check out the Christmas lights on Regent Street and Oxford Circus. There is a Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park with Christmassy stalls and rides if you want to bring the kiddies along. We skipped that this year because it had started to drizzle but if that doesn’t put you off, by all means, enjoy the Hyde Park merriment!

The ‘floating angels’ lights on Regent Street sparkled and shone and almost made you want to turn to a random stranger to say ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas!’.

You win, Regent Street #goals

Out of the cold and into the pub for more mulled wine and Christmassy tunes!

The highlight of the trip for me was Somerset House’s ice skating adventure. I would recommend that you book early as the slots fill up quickly. We managed to get tickets for a Sunday afternoon session and for about €10pp it is well worth the hour on the ice and includes skate rental. They also have a left luggage area (£2) and a kiddie mini rink and bar for après skate aperitifs!

Somerset House rink

Pretty much everyone is tentative getting on the ice at first so don’t fret. And once you manage to avoid the many Bambi skaters in your vicinity and find your ice feet, away you glide! It was a beautiful, sunny, winter’s day on our visit and the giant Christmas tree and holiday music as we skated made it a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. Somerset House on Strand is not far from the Theatre District if you had planned a Sunday matinee afterward.

Also, fun fact, the Somerset House ice skating rink is featured in a holiday montage at the beginning of Love Actually. I absolutely heart that movie!!

Thanks for sending me this screen shot, Róís!

Off to Covent Garden for cakes and tea and to oogle at the decorations in the pavillion.  This year it was giant mistletoe and silver baubles every few feet.

Beautiful baubles.

Such a novel idea. If like a normal person, you stop once, under one mistletoe decoration and get your cute posed picture, great. However, it’s not cool, if you stop every few feet. Now you are just being an ass and causing the Christmas grinch to come out in everyone that is stuck behind you as you coo and smooch. Move along, folks. Move along.

Cake break. Having fun is tiring work!

There are a million and one things to do in London over a weekend. Make it a museum trip, a Harry Potter studio tour, a touristy ‘see the sights’ visit, a foodie fest or a theatre spectacular. Whatever you choose, London will deliver.  Book yourself a weekend and soak up everything this culture capital has to offer! #lovelondon

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