Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Eve London-Style

With The Man's teenage daughter down to visit,we decided to make a whole day of our New Year's Eve. We got up late and walked down Portobello Road, buzzing with tourists drifting through the market stalls, and over to The Electric, one of our favourite brunch places. Despite it officially being a working day, the restaurant was packed with locals -- some already drinking in preparation for the night ahead. Warming our hands on much-needed coffees, we ordered bacon and eggs, French toast and Eggs Benedict; ate quickly; and headed back to the flat to get ready for our next event: a matinee in the West End.

We'd booked tickets for Well, a comedy at The Apollo Theatre, a few days before, crossing our fingers that it'd be suitable for a teenager. We needn't have worried -- she loved it, as did we. It was great theatre and worth a great deal more than the £15 per ticket that we paid. We moved on to an early dinner at Balans on Old Compton Street in the heart of Soho, watching the place fill up as our gay waiters grooved to the tunes.

Not sure who the couple were, but they wouldn't get out of the way!

The Tubes were packed when we headed home. Just enough time for a quick nap (for me -- a few glasses of red does that to me), we changed yet again and headed out into the cold night to the Natural History Museum for ice skating at the rink that's set up each year in front of the terracotta building. With lights strung up on every tree and spotlights outlining the museum's facade, it was a fairytale setting. We grabbed our grungy, wet-smelling skates and headed out onto the ice.

The rink at the Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road

Here, the fairytale ended. The Man is not a skater; his daughter is marginally better. How to explain to someone the mechanics of ice skating? My wrist is still sore from holding him up! I did manage to take a few spins on my own around the rink, dodging about 90% of Londoners who clearly have never had the advantage of growing up in a country of ice and snow.

Skaters flashing by as I keep my companions from falling.

Off the ice and back in the car, we made the critical error of trying to drive to the river and watch the fireworks. Just like about a thousand other cars, also making their way through the clogged roads towards the Embankment. We watched the time tick by towards the midnight hour as the car inched slowly forward. Finally, it was 11:55 p.m. and where were we? Yup, stuck in traffic! Resigned to our fate, we cut the engine and rolled down the windows. The chimes of Big Ben rang, car horns hooted, and The Man leaned over and gave me a giant kiss -- across the gearshift. Thus, another year in London began! Happy 2009!

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