Since we did the series in January, I cannot think how many times I have visited London in one year. And on Wednesday, I made another short jaunt to the capital at the invitation of my friend Miss Hannah Brewer, who now works at a company called UBM. Also invited was Mr Jonathan Appleby who has featured in a number of articles in the past couple of years.
It was he who I met first, convening for lunch at Garfunkels in the Strand, literally opposite the Strand Palace Hotel where we had stayed in January. I had a half-decent lunch in there, which took the form of a Margherita Pizza (see pictured) (I’m watching my weight again, so no extra fattening toppings for me, thank you). Jon’s option of a Jacket Potato and Beans, however, did not go down quite as well – he told me. On top of that, the service staff were a little abrupt in manner, so it’s just as well it’s a chain because that review would be scathing.
From there, we went on to the Covent Garden Plaza, where we did a little Christmas shopping and caught a little of an operatic busker’s act. The main port-of-call, however, was a place for dessert, which we found at the beginning of Theatreland, which you can’t miss because of the huge silver reindeer stag float that sits in front of it (see pictured). We went into a place called Tuttons, but you’re going to have to wait until next issue for the review, I’m afraid!
We eventually met up with Hannah, who seriously needed a cocktail after the day she’d had – so where better than the Strand Palace’s Mask Bar, where we got to relive the oh-so-delicious Strawberry Daiquiris (see pictured) we had fallen in love with back in January. Just as gorgeous as before, and Hannah appreciated it greatly. One of my better ideas.
Hang on a minute – we’re supposed to be talking about the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park! Well let’s not delay any further.
It’s only a couple of tube stops from the Waterloo and Strand areas to get to Hyde Park, for which I am very thankful. I must admit I was not entirely sure what to expect. You could say it’s half-theme park, half-German market – that would be the most accurate description. Stalls selling food of all sorts, from simple yet delicious things like duck fat-fried chips, towards which I was sorely tempted (another reason to loathe being on a diet), to something I could not resist at all – Hog Roast. Numerous options from this particular stall were available, but I stuck with the good old-fashioned Hog Roast Bap (see pictured). In its polystyrene box, of course it’s not going to look elegant, but then such a thing isn’t elegant! It’s street food, after all! What’s important is the flavour. For something like this, it was surprisingly rich – almost too much for me, I’m ashamed to admit. Pork scratchings adorn the box as a sort of side-dish, the stuffing soft and savoury – just delicious. A fine choice to be sure.
Mulled Wine was the next thing on our list – we sat beneath a rather large silver-decorated Christmas tree. Mine was the traditional cinnamon-spiced concoction, but for an extra fee, you could add Amaretto, Whiskey or Brandy to the mixture. On this occasion, none of us did. Instead, we clutched our throats at the numerous rides around us, most of which were swinging people in all directions at unbearable heights. For the real thrillseekers, I can say they would be very happy. I personally am quite happy with my feet on the ground, thank you very much.
Unless you do value the rollercoasters and whatever else, as well as the ice skating and the somewhat-repetitive and not necessarily festive live music sets, the Winter Wonderland can easily be seen in a couple of hours. That being said, it is very easy to feel Christmassy there, with all the large, decorated trees and brightly-lit pathways (see pictured). Certainly a worthwhile visit even to round off a day trip to the capital.