Thursday, 17 December 2009
...All being well at least. I really need the break after the stress of the last few months and I am keeping my fingers tightly crossed that nothing kicks off while I am on vacation and am keeping half an eye on my emails while I am here in the UK.
I flew into London on Wednesday night after taking a flight first thing yesterday morning. I barely slept a wink on Tuesday night in NYC because I was a bit worried about sleeping through my alarm, which was set to go off at 4.30am, and missing my flight - I've become the queen of the snooze button lately - and didn't exactly catch up on sleep on the flight, so I was knackered by the time I arrived and finally got to bed around midnight UK time.
I'll sleep really well tonight I thought and set the alarm for 9.30am to give myself plenty of time to potter around London before meeting up with a few friends for dinner in Ealing. In reality I hit the snooze button 3 times before turning the alarm off to sleep for 'just 5 more minutes' and ended up waking up at 1pm. Oooops!!! Not a good start to making the most of my time in London, I shall be putting the alarm across the other side of the room tomorrow.
London has changed a lot since I lived here almost 10years ago. The biggest change for me is the multitude of conversations I hear conducted in different languages when I travel on the tube. Of course this has been the case for a number of years ever since the UK experienced record levels of immigration between 2004 and 2006 after Poland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined the EU and the rate apparently hasn't slowed much in the past few years according to this article on the BBC, but the reality of it always takes me by surprise when I come home for Christmas.
The other thing I struggle to get used to when I am back in the UK is how cold everyone's homes are and I miss my toasty apartment in New York. I just can't seem to keep warm when I'm here. The radiators can be scalding hot to the touch, but somehow they only manage to warm the fringes of the room and I'll still be shivering beneath 3 layers of jumpers and two pairs of socks. I don't remember this being the case when I lived here, so perhaps New York has made me soft ;-)
I finally dragged myself out of Miles' apartment around 4pm and headed for the shops on Regent St, beautifully decorated for the season with nets of stars spanning across the road, seemingly sponsored by the Disney movie A Christmas Carol. I have to say the corporate patronage did kind of sap some of the romance of the moment for me, but at least the film is seasonal, it's Dickens and it's vast improvement on the year the Christmas lights were sponsored by Birds Eye Frozen Foods!!!
While the decorations on Carnaby St play on it's swinging sixties hey day!!
This photo is courtesy of Ronrad on Flickr whose efforts came out much better than my own.
After taking in the decorations I browsed around a few stores including the relatively new Anthropologie store, the company's first outside the US, which opened about 2months ago and is lovely, but stocks exactly the same collection as the US stores for exactly the same amounts, but charged in £s instead of $s making it even more extortionately expensive for flimsy and artfully frayed bits of chiffon adorned with sequins. That will be £118 please!! Um...what!!
A store assistant told me that they paid a lot in import duties, hence the hefty price tags (hmmm), but that over time they hope to start sourcing locally so that the British store would carry different stock from the US ones. Somehow I don't think that will mean the prices will come down, although you never know, since the place wasn't exactly bustling considering it was the week before Christmas.
Afterwards I hopped on the Piccadilly line tube and headed for Ealing to meet the gang at the very cosy Rose and Crown pub just behind St Mary's Church for a quick drink - soda water for me I am trying to rein it in this Christmas, the stress of work has frequently driven me to the bottle this year and I am trying to nip that in the bud - before going onto Zayka, an Indian & Nepalese restaurant, for dinner, where Jason, the regular, managed to score us 50% off our food bill. The food was absolutely delicious too and the staff warm and friendly, it's well worth a visit. As we ate snow started to swirl down quite heavily - well, heavy for London anyway - and by the time we left at 10pm an inch had settled on the ground making it feel very festive. According to the BBC up to 8inches of snow could fall on the South East of England tomorrow with gale force winds causing drifts. I love the snow, it's so pretty, but this being England nothing will work tomorrow. England doesn't do snow :-)
When I got home at 10.30pm Miles and B had already hit the hay, but not before turning down the bed and putting the electric blanket in my room on pre-heat. Bless!!