Monday, 6 December 2010

Edinbrrrr and the great London freeze

It's been a while, I know, I know, but honestly, in the last three weeks our house - and my life - has felt like peak hour at Victoria train station with all the comings, goings, drunk people, delays and destinations sought and departed from. After another similarly crazybusy week the next big event will be home via Heathrow so I'm not going to complain. And frankly, apart from the defrosting limbs and misery that is fleece-lined tights under jeans with two pairs of socks and three cardigans, there really isn't much to moan about. 

My week of nannying was exhausting and terrifying but reasonably uneventful if, by uneventful, you don't count screaming fits to the point of paralysis about the fact your brother won't give you HIS jumper to wear to school because you lost yours the day before and fuck logic and reason and Stern Voice because you're now running 10 minutes late to get the others to choir practice. Note to self: screaming and crying and refusing to move will eventually get you whatever you want. I can't remember the last time I experienced such unadulterated rage towards someone barely of reading age.

Really though, the week passed without broken limbs or lost children or accidents to house or car so all in all I'm calling it a success. Though I'm not sure my mother is all that thrilled with my increasing uncertainty-cum-resolve against parenting as something I might like to do, you know, forever. I blame The Jumper Incident. I honestly do not know how my Mum did it.

While I was nannying though two of my three siblings arrived to stay with LB and I in anticipation of Edward, youngest brother's 21st birthday. It was so much fun to have them here, even better after I finished nannying and even more fun when we surprised Edward at dinner on the Saturday night for his birthday with the arrival of parentals. He was shocked and delighted, we were delighted and despite the fact I remember clearly when he was born, never mind that I used to bathe him, change his nappies and dress him up for my fun and amusement and am thus Officially Old, it was so special to have the whole family together for such a significant occasion.

The jaw-dropping sheer deliciousness of the food at Gaucho Grill where we went for dinner certainly contributed, as did the sight of Mum being offered a shot of Jaegermeister from a girl carrying shot glasses in a gun belt at the pub afterwards. Thankfully the evening didn't go down that path. At least not for anyone over the age of 22...

On the next afternoon LB and I had what was meant to be a small, civilised engagement party. And from the hours of 2pm until about 7pm it was just that. Glasses of pink wine and gifts of more pink wine and fabulous new saucepans. Until further rounds of champagne were bought and my brothers got control of the music and after that it was a bleery, blurry mess for everyone. Except me. God bless an ability to sip a glass of wine like it's the last you'll ever have. It's just a shame that the other members of the collective household - those on the tenancy agreement (no names mentioned LB) and certain other assorted guests (no names mentioned siblings all) had no such self-restraint and the post-party party involved a lot of what Edward has termed "talking into the big white telephone." And what I call just plain disgusting.

After the siblings left - Ol and Soph for Sydney and Edward for New York, the next stop on his ridiculous world trip (I'd be more jealous if he and his mates had done anything more cultural than pub crawls....) Mum, Max, LB and I took off for a weekend in Edinburgh. We flew up there on the Friday night and while we were at dinner, at the Tower Restaurant on the rooftop of the Museum of Scotland, it began to snow. Thankfully by rooftop, they mean enclosed rooftop, but we still had the most spectacular view of Edinburgh Castle and once the snow started coming down it added a certain air of bonhomie to the freezing toes bonanza that was our little travelling party.

We woke the next morning to several inches of snow and, something London has yet to cotton on to at this time of year, sunshine. It was actually beautiful. We spent the day wandering about Edinburgh and in particular the castle, where I introduced Mum to the delights of mulled wine, and then in the direction of Holyrood Palace via a delicious vegetarian lunch, where we attempted to talk about anything but the burning pain that is frozen extremities. It was, literally, f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g. So freezing that I ducked into the first tourist shop we could find to buy some cashmere socks. As luck would have it the only colour in my size were a kind of loch ness green but they worked a bloody miracle and with the tights and gloves and coat and the cardigan so woolly there is nothing short of a flock of naked sheep out there, I felt ok. Enormous and uncomfortable. But ok.

We were staying in this amazing apartment in the New Town (new meaning it was built six centuries after the Old Town but still three centuries before we found ourselves staying there with all the modern comforts of today, including, no less, heated tiles.) And on the Saturday night LB and I cooked dinner before we all headed for bed while snowflakes the size of 10p coins began to pile up outside.

The next morning. It looked like this: (nb: that is LBB and not me clearing their throat in such manly tones at the end... In case you were worried...)


Super exciting and very very cold. We had planned to head down to Leith, the part of the city where the royal yacht Brittania is docked and then head to the Scottish National Museum of Modern Art but while we were waiting for our taxi someone told us the airport has been closed because of the snow. We were meant to fly out that night with the parentals flying out the next day back to Sydney. So sadly, one way or another, we had to get back to London. British Airways were delightfully unhelpful and so calculating the risks - and the impending snowdump due later that day - we decided to get the train.

Now, normally the train takes just over four and a half hours to get to Kings Cross. But, because of the delays getting to Edinburgh in the first place, the still falling snow, the ice on the lines and a broken down train in front of us somewhere near York it took us closer to eight. We all managed to get seats which was nothing short of a miracle but with all the delays (and thank you London Underground for that most convenient tube strike too), we got home at the same time we would have had we caught the 8.30pm flight. Which, hilariously, was the only flight that did manage to leave Edinburgh that day.

All part of the adventure I suppose. And it was incredible to see the landscape blanketed in white as we passed through. And incredible that LB and I had had the foresight to pack the half drunk bottle of white in our suitcase. Happy days.

We also seemed to have packed the freezing temperatures and the snow with us though because this last week in London has been frozen solid with inches of snow and icy winds. It's only now that it's rained and the temperature has risen to a tropical 6 degrees that the snow and ice have melted. But honestly, I can't remember it ever being this cold in London before. Snow is fun and pretty and the ultimate novelty distraction but when the cold wind burns your face off it isn't so fun. I was so cold at work this week I was forced to buy some fleece-lined tights. It was the final farewell to last of my sartorial dignity in the hell that is winter dressing but my care factor was much like the temperature. That is, zero.

If I wasn't a dyed in the wool southern hemisphere kind of a girl all the snow and the decorations and the shiny lights would have me well and truly jumping up and down with Christmas fervour by now. As it is I'm still suitably dazzled and LB and I have got into the spirit with our own lights but come on, Christmas isn't Christmas without a morning swim, yes? That being said, our newly arrived friends, Tors and her husband The Hungry One hosted a tree trimming Christmas dinner on Friday night and with the champagne chilling in the last of the balcony's snowdrift and the tree suitably decorated Tor put on a meal to rival the best of them with everything from pork and requisite crackling to plum pudding and eggnog custard. Great food to match the company and one of many things to be grateful for at this time of year, fleece-lined tights notwithstanding.

This week the comings and going continue with my friend from days of Brighton old staying and me working variously at the gallery as the book cranks towards really, finally, happening and then on kings road and then nannying and then catching up with friends and then going to see the brilliant play Blackwatch at the Barbican on Friday. I'm not going to know which foot goes in which shoe it's going to be that busy but then the week will be done and my most pressing job will be packing for Sydney. Someone mentioned packing gumboots but I'm choosing to ignore that...

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