And now it's Christmas in London, so I won't post more about Japan for now. I've been making cards for family members and busy looking through some of my pics for inspiration and images, so I thought I'd share some images of a London Christmas, as I've experienced it over some years. Christmas in its many forms....
Here's a Christmas cake I made a few years ago. I don't usually make cakes but this was for someone dear to me who loved ginger, and it had a lot of ginger in it, as you can see from the decoration. I haven't got round to doing a cake this year, but never mind - a friend who is a magnificent cook unexpectedly sent me a home made stollen - what a bonus!
T and I always like to go to Oxford St. and see Selfridge's Christmas windows. They are always really original. This year, Selfridge's Santa is a playboy. So the windows show Santa in the jacuzzi, Santa in the sauna, Santa going dancing... and here he is with his cool mates in a glittery ski lift in his sequined robes, gold sparkly ski boots and golden poles....
This Santa in Camden Town wasn't living the high life but seemed to be very content to be sprawled in front of a splendid repast in a barber's shop.
I happened to be passing Guys Hospital when I spotted this ...hm... festive character? They do say that doctors can have a rather black sense of humour! But there again, his eyes are made of champagne corks, and he has a very warm and good quality scarf...
This Santa, spotted in the Oval area of SW London, made me smile..
I don't usually put pics of my family on this blog, so you must imagine the delighted faces there were when one of our daughters brought some treats back from a pre-Christmas trip to Paris a few years ago. The display of cheese was almost too beautiful to eat (we did it eat it, though) and the macaroons from Fauchon were utterly elegant as well as delicious. Actually if you look closely you will see that one macaroon is already gone - it was shiny and bronze, like sculpture. It really is true that nobody can do special food like the French.
And what about these cakes, below, which I spotted in South London - how do you think they were decorated? It look almost as if they have been embossed. I'd love to know how it is done so please tell me if you know.
I haven't heard as many carols as usual in the shops, and I am not sorry because I far prefer to hear real people singing carols. (PS: written on 27 December: I posted something about Wham's "Last Christmas" but I was really sad to hear George Michael died on Christmas Day, so I've deleted it now. He was a good kind man who died far too young. )
I was happy to hear the children below, in their school choir, in Bermondsey, singing their hearts out.
This year I haven't gone to Kensington Palace to see what they're doing for Christmas. At the present rate of (non) progress I probably won't, this year. It's usually interesting, and they manage to ring the changes pretty well on the theme of palaces and princesses. One year, though, I felt a distinctly eerie atmosphere. A bit "Last Year At Marienbad" air it as we walked amongst clipped trees in a park that had become very silent.
We left after the palace had closed for the night, and it has quite a different atmosphere when there's nobody there.
The staff at that time were telling us that the palace was haunted by some kind of large dog but I didn't spot it.
I expect Queen Victoria and Albert's cooks at Kensington Palace ordered from the old established posh grocers, Fortnum and Mason, when preparing for Christmas. We usually like to take a look at Fortnums' decorations and window displays. This year's window didn't appeal to us much, so I won't show you pictures. To be honest, I didn't really understand what they were on about. Below, though, are some Christmas crackers from a year when colour and celebration were Fortnum's Christmas themes. I can't even begin to imagine what the price was, but I seem to recall they had real jewellery inside.
They also had suitably over the top ideas for Christmas decorations. Not recommended for households with little kids - can't I see little hands closing on those sharp, spiky glass ornaments! But it was all so cheerful I almost felt like a child myself.
There was festive fish and chips for the less well-off in Stoke Newington...
And lights for everyone
A cherub in Kings Cross
About three years ago we were surprised to chance upon pens of real farm animals when we happened to walk out of Herne Hill railway station. The aim was partly to show the local kids what real farm animals looked like, and there was a Christmas market spread around the neighbouring narrow streets.
Every year the faithful Salvation Army comes out with its brass band at Christmas. I took this picture yesterday in Oxford St. We gave them some money. Homeless people I have spoken to usually have good things to say about the Salvation Army, who treat them with kindly respect, they say.
This, spotted through a pub indow in Dalston, shows some of the older generation meeting up like they have probably been doing for years, under the tinsel.
And so back home. Nothing like being on the top of a double decker bus!