It’s the calm before the storm. This week has been my last chance to get things done quietly (as a grown-up) before the lovely, giddy madness of the school holidays starts.
But this week hasn’t all been about Christmas preparations. Last weekend the boys went to stay at their grandparents, and James and I got to spend some time on our own. On Saturday we hopped on the train to London – the first time we’d been to the capital together for a couple of years. I really wanted to visit one of the Anthropologie stores as I’ve long been a fan online, but never visited for real.
Apart from that wish, we didn’t have much of a plan, except to just have a bit of a wander. I’m naturally nostalgic and so couldn’t resist suggesting that we started our meandering in Pimlico, where we lived for a bit. So, we caught a tube to Pimlico station, then walked through the familiar old streets (past our old flat, and the road where we used to spend ages hunting for parking spaces). It’s nine years now since we lived there, and it’s gradually feeling further and further away. Familiar, but not immediately so.
From there, we walked across to Sloane Square. We called into the Saatchi Gallery (mainly because it was free). I tried my best not to be too middle-aged and critical but kept having to remember to rearrange my facial expressions as I walked round.
We then walked down the King’s Road to the Anthropologie shop. It was every bit as swoon-making as I hoped it would be. It was all very exotic, and unlike my usual shopping experiences.
There was even a dachshund. Of course!
As the light started to fade, we jumped on the tube to Embankment and had a leisurely stroll along the South Bank – which is a picture-perfect scene of fairy lights and stalls at this time of year. We walked and walked.
There’s something about visiting London which always involves so much leg-work. Let’s just walk round the next corner, and see what’s there. And so it goes on! We ended up walking all the way back to Kings Cross, via a few stops. Fun but exhausting!
On Sunday we collected our new (pretend) wood burner and got it set up in our sitting room. Clearly, it’s never going to be the same as the real thing, but I wanted something to cheer up our empty hearth this Christmas. It didn’t disappoint and is surprisingly convincing. Tom, particularly, is captivated by its charms. I hope it won’t be too long before we can introduce them to the joy of real fires, but – for now – this is a very cheering substitute.
Tuesday was a jam-packed day. In the morning we visited Gabriel’s junior school (which he’ll be moving to in September) and then we drove over to a local farm shop to buy our Christmas tree. After the usual amount of indecision we eventually chose the tree we’d seen first (always the way) and brought it home with us. Awful dank weather, which continued into the afternoon when we were back at school for Gabriel’s Christmas performance. Which was lovely – his last at infant school!
Now, for me, gingerbread is huge part of festive baking. It’s one of my favourite things to make – so easy, simple and satisfying. I made a big batch of snowflakes and round biscuits which the boys helped me ice. They’re now all packaged up and ready to give to the boys’ teachers this morning.
On Thursday I had a trip to Cambridge to do my last few bits of Christmas shopping. I didn’t tick everything off my list, but I always like to look around the shops there and soak up the atmosphere.
This week I have also enjoyed…
Watching Back in Time for Christmas on BBC2. This was a lovely two-parter – just what I needed!
Reading Prudence by Jilly Cooper. I need an easy read at this time of year. This short novel by JC is perfect escapism – very dated, but just the ticket if you like that sort of thing!
And finally… our Christmas tree is in the house. It’s not decorated, but it’s waiting with bated breath for the excitement to come. As are we all.