Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas Week-Part I

The undefeated sun
Warm upon the earth
Calling to life to life
Rousing every urge

Merry Christmas from snowy England!

We have been having a wonderful time celebrating David`s birthday and Christmas. We`ve been celebrating so much lately that I`m surprised our hearts & livers haven`t failed with all the good food and drink around here. Then again, it is so cold that additional fat & alcohol are just part of the `keeping warm` process. I can say this: -30 on the prairies is a lot warmer (inside) than -1 in England, mainly due to the lack of central heating. And yes, dad, I am wearing a sweater.

We began our celebrations last Sunday, or David`s Birthday Feast Day. In my family we do birthdays (or any holiday for that matter) in a big way so this was just his home-cooked feast. He opted for ribs, pop-overs, brussels sprouts, and pineapple upside-down cake. I dutifully provided it and we ate it while watching Major Barbara (a movie adaptation of a George Bernard Shaw play).

On Wednesday (David`s birthday) I crammed my work hours into the early part of the day and we went to London in the afternoon. London was crazy due to all the travel chaos. Kings Cross was packed with people and everywhere we went we could hear announcements telling people that they would not be admitted into Heathrow Airport unless their flight was confirmed. We were both grateful that we did not have to feel stress & anxiety about trying to get home for Christmas.


Our first stop in London was Slightly Foxed Bookstore. Slightly Foxed is an independent quarterly review/press which David subscribes to, and the bookstore is a mix of used titles and their own publications. He managed to find a copy of CS Lewis' Literature of the 16th Century, which he`d wanted for awhile, so there was much celebrating. He also wants me to note that he got a copy of Sir Thomas Elyot`s The Governor. After book-buying we wandered, slightly lost, around South Kensington trying to find a certain pub for dinner. We were already running late, due to delays on the train & tube, and when we arrived at the pub it was too crowded to sit and we didn`t have time to wait. So we wandered back the way we`d come, towards Gloucester Station, and tried to find a place for dinner.

Right before we gave up in despair and opted for Burger King we noticed a small place called Byron. It promised amazing burgers and it was nearly empty. We decided to risk it and, I can say with no exaggeration, we had the best burger feast we`ve had since coming to the UK (our own creations excluded). It was almost like having North American food, and I later found out that they even serve A&W Rootbeer (rootbeer is not a beverage one can find outside of London, and even there it is scarce. English root beer is more of a ginger ale, and has an alcohol content). We munched delicious Byron Burgers (crispy bacon, aged cheddar, byron sauce, fixins, and medium rare beef), crunched shoe-string fries & massive onion rings, and slurped back proper milkshakes (not like the runny mess one normally gets). It was bliss...expensive, but delicious, bliss.

With little time to spare we caught the tube to Sloane Square and the main reason for our trip to London—to see Maddy Prior & the Carnival Band perform their Christmas concert at Cadogan Hall. For those of you not familiar with Maddy Prior I`ll include a sample song below. David & I are both huge fans and this was our second time seeing her in concert (last year we saw her perform with Steeleye Span). The concert was amazing. First off, Maddy Prior has the most incredibly voice and hearing her in person always sends shivers down my spine. Second, the band is wonderfully talented and they brought much humour and festive cheer to the concert. It was great. Third, not many people (or as many as we`d like) seem to enjoy folk music, so it is always a treat to be at a concert full of people who are there because they love the music. Also a treat is that I am usually one of the youngest people there! So we settled in and enjoyed ourselves immensely, and after the concert I managed to say a few words to Maddy Prior myself, for once overcoming my shyness in the face of celebrity.


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