London in a wedding dress. Icy confetti fell all over her, the winter bride, at the week-end.
Too poetic? Perhaps. But isn’t it incredible how a few inches of white frost can give the city a radical make-over?
Proper seasonal changes give you the impression of travel; you may have not moved, but overnight the change of scenery will give you the impression you have been transported elsewhere. That’s what I call ‘weather-travel’.
Perhaps I speak just for myself, but I was getting tired of this mild, grey, non-descript climate. I am convinced November lasted three months this year.
It’s a different story, however, when the temperature drops and we get to wear the Christmas jumpers we couldn’t really justify taking out of the closet in December. On Thursday the sudden burst of winter sunshine caught us by surprise, and we all smiled again, relieved to see the blue sky piercing through the mist and clouds that have been oppressing the city of late.
Then came the snow.
And it was as if the city is a different place. With fewer cars around, the streets looked prettier and smelt fresher. Snow is like a layer of light foundation make-up; it hides blemishes, enhances colouring and features. And besides the crazy travel disruption – if you are not affected by train cancellations – there seems to be no better weather to enjoy London in the winter.
As the city slows down, everybody seems to find their inner child… on Friday night I was caught up in a snow-ball fight as I walked to an empty restaurant in Covent Garden. Closing early, because of the weather, of course. Snowmen popped up on pavements, bus stops and park benches.
Who needs a ski-break in the Alps, when you can slide down kite hill on Hampstead Heath?
Seasonal changes are the best answer to reduced travel budgets; if you can’t afford to go to the slopes, let the slopes come to your door-step!
On Saturday the Heath was heaving with improvised winter sports enthusiasts. Armed with plastic trays, traditional wooden sledges, rubbish liners and other, imaginative sliding solutions, Londoners of all ages enjoyed risking breaking their necks (would your winter sports insurance cover your slide down the icy paths of North London?) until dusk. As the sun set, and the city lights began to sparkle to outline the familiar skyline, the view from the top of the hill was stunning.
Like any traditional English bride, London didn’t forget to throw her bouquet for good luck. We went looking for it in Regent’s Park on Sunday.
We saw what remained of the wedding feast: covered in a thick coat of white icing sugar, benches, tree-branches, sculptures looked like they had been stolen from the display of a posh patisserie.
And then we found it. In the Queen’s rose garden, of course.
The precocious buds, blushing mutely through the snow, defiant of sub-zero temperatures; there it was, London’s understated bridal bouquet.
She may be old-fashioned, but London likes a good party, too. Before we know it, she is getting thrashed already.
So don’t waste anytime, go out for a walk, before the slushy hangover settles in!