A surprising number of people have asked me, ‘why would you go back to England during winter?’. Well, that famous song from the 1960’s answers that question perfectly, ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year’. Yes, the weather can be miserable and it’s freezing, but with the fairy lights, little girls dressed as angels and trees full of enchanting ornaments, winter in England is beautiful! It’s Christmas!
I travelled to London for two days to see some of my dear friends, I had such a wonderful time! The naked trees full of mistletoe and the English countryside flashed passed my window before my train reached the bustle of London! Arriving in London, the smell of the cold air in the city, the distant sound of Christmas carols, everyone rushing around and I stood in the middle of it with a huge grin on my face.
The London Underground (source: BBC)
I have a passion for the London Underground (and the Paris Metro!), there is something about underground tunnels which link the entire city together, I love it! I have written about my unusual passion in a past post, but when I found myself looking at the map, seeing which line to take to meet my friend- I had a complete mental blank. My grin faded into a kind of gormless expression, I stood there for a long five minutes. I wanted to get from London Paddington to Waterloo, I knew it was a simple journey but being faced with this familiar map, I felt like I had never seen it before. Once the what would have been obvious twelve months ago dawned on me, I started walking in the direction of the Bakerloo line, towards Waterloo (clue is in the name, Lauren). I then had trouble with the automated ticket barriers, I was trying to put my ticket in where it should come out. My brain was behaving like a plate full of jelly, thankfully I soon got back into the groove of things!
Seeing my old friend’s again was overwhelming and emotional, I have missed them so much. The huge disadvantage about living abroad is that you are far away from so many people you care about, so much has changed since I last saw them! I met a gorgeous little girl, who is now six months old, last time I saw her she was a tiny bean in her Mummy’s belly. Gorgeous babies have been welcomed into the world, new careers, fresh relationships, failed relationships- and I was so far away to be able to be there for them.
I was also so lucky to be able see some wonderful new friends, Hanna and M, who both write great blogs about their intercultural relationships! I was so happy to meet them, and I am hoping to see those two lovely girls again before I return to India, unfortunately they also bore witness to my jelly brain!
There was a beautiful Christmas tree on the banks of the Thames, decorated with personal Christmas messages, a beautiful idea from Macmillan, a cancer support charity. Two of my friends and I donated some money and wrote messages and hung them on the tree. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, it’s a time for receiving presents and eating too much food, but most importantly it’s a time for giving and charity.
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'”
Acts 20:35, The Holy Bible
Just before I left London, I had some time alone, my train wasn’t due to leave for another two hours (my time management skills are awful). I found myself retracing some of the steps I took with my husband when we first met in person, nearly two years ago. Walking those streets made me miss him more, I wish he was able to come to England with me to experience ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.
I walked from the London eye, passed Big Ben, to Leicester square and finally, I found myself in Piccadilly circus. Piccadilly circus is where my husband and I arrived first when we took our short trip into central London, we walked up from the underground and into the outside world and saw Anteros, the Greek god of requited love, pointing his bow straight at us. I stood there alone, surrounded by Christmas shoppers, and looked up at Anteros, now decorated for the festive season.
Anteros, the view from one of the Piccadilly Circus underground exits
My train from London arrived at my station at around ten o’clock, it was cold and dark, a white blanket covered everything outside the train. The cars parked outside the station, the road, the platform and the benches. I turned to the nearest person and said, ‘oh, look I think it’s been snowing!’. The middle-aged gentleman to my right looked offended that I spoke to him and didn’t reply.
It hadn’t been snowing, it was actually frost. Frost makes everything glisten, as if it were covered in glitter. I walked from the train station to the bus stop, a short walk on the sparkling pavements, the world had been sprinkled with fairy dust. Walking through the dark park and over the bridge, I watched swans silently glide through the black icey water. I looked up and gasped, the stars were shining so bright, brighter than I can remember. As I stood with my face to the universe above, a star fell out of the sky, a shooting star, and I made a wish.