Call it cliché, but since watching various Christmas-related films such as Love Actually and The Holiday, I’ve had the desire to experience the magic of England in December. My friend Jo invited me to spend a few days with her family to kick off my December holidays, and I’m so glad she did.
The Eurostar train takes you from Lille to London in under two hours, one of the most convenient trains I have ever ridden. From there Jo lives about 45 minutes outside the city. I spent 4 days in the United Kingdom– Henley-on-Thames, Windsor, and of course, London.
English Pubs and Sunday Roast
Having befriended quite a number of Brits during my time in France, I can’t help but notice that despite sharing a common language, our two cultures are, in fact, very different. Two of my favorite newly discovered aspects of British culture are local pubs and Sunday roast. During my time in the UK this past month, Jo and I ventured to her local British pub to have a few pints (and mulled wine!) The pubs are usually small, quaint, and cozy, but most importantly, LIVELY! The Old Bell was completely decked out for Christmas, too!
Jo’s charming town, Henley!
Sunday roast seems to be a British tradition, in the same way that Americans get together for afternoon barbecues, tailgates, or football Sundays. We sat down on Sunday and enjoyed an absolutely fabulous meal as a family. Something I perhaps naively learned is that roast can be referred to as any kind of meat, whether it be beef, pork, etc.
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
Winter Wonderland is perhaps London’s most popular and spectacular Christmas destination. It is basically a gigantic, festive Christmas-filled atmosphere, containing various Christmas markets and bars, amusement park rides, Santa Land, ice skating, and more. It is free to enter, although you must reserve and pay for various rides and ice skating. Jo and I wandered for over an hour, sipping wine and purchasing much too many sweets.
Welcome to Winter Wonderland!
Jo enjoying crepes! She misses France!
Covent Garden and Southbank Market
The rest of London is equally as festive! Jo and I spent the first portion of the afternoon wandering around Covent Garden and watching various street performers. During the afternoon, we met up with our friend Becca, and wandered to the Southbank Market, next to the London Eye on the River Thames.
On my final full day in the UK, Jo and I drove with her brother to Windsor in order to admire the Queen’s castle and more importantly, hang out with our friend Amy! We spent an afternoon eating fish ‘n chips, ice skating at the market, strolling around town, and sipping afternoon tea. Once the sun went down, the castle projected various Christmas lights along its walls, certainly giving La Fête des Lumières a run for its money!
I want to thank Jo, Amy, and Becca for giving me the best time and a fantastic introduction to English Christmas.Have you ever been to England (or another country that’s not your own) at Christmas time?