'Twas the night before Christmas

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Dear readers,

I don't expect many of you will read this tonight and frankly I'd be concerned if you didn't have nicer things to do but I'll post it anyway. Please forgive my absence on this blog, not replying to your comments or reading your posts but I've been swept up in a whirlwind blowing in all different directions. It all started a week ago, waiting for hours at the airport while somewhere above, our plane was waiting to land. Airports are the strangest of places, anonymous and designed to cut you off from all familiar habits, leaving only the desire to eat and spend money. Outside lines of red snowploughs lined up ready for action while the thick white flakes stubbornly continued to fall. When I finally made it, there was the train ride to London, beginning through a landscape thick with frost where the branches of the trees were woven into delicate lace patterns and the fields deeply lined with furrows where you feel your very presence destroys the magic of a fairytale. London never ceases to amaze me, especially at Christmas time the air filled with music and twinkling in the chilly evenings. I enjoyed the Regency elegance of Thomas Lawrence's portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, returning to familiar sights in Canaletto's Venice at the National Gallery and Gauguin's Pont Aven and exotic islands at Tate Modern. On my way to the National Theatre to see Alan Ayckborn's Christmas Greetings, I paused to watch the ice skating at Somerset House underneath a huge tree sparkling with green and white Tiffany decorations. To finish it off, there was the magic of Ernst Lubitsch's Shop Around the Corner with James Stewart at the National Film Theatre (tonight It's A Wonderful Life is lined up) which made me both smile and cry. This is perhaps my favourite moment with all the excitement still to come, the mince pies to bake and the presents to unwrap. My fingers are dyed red from decorating the cake, I'm listening continually to the Carpenters and Nat King Cole and outside, you can still see the snow in the frozen twilight. More is forecast for Boxing Day and secretly, I love the idea of being snowed in with plenty of good food and a pile of old films with Fred Astaire, Cary Grant and Mae West. I'll leave you with some photos from the past few days. Some of you will already be celebrating and exchanging presents but wherever you are and whatever you're doing, I wish you truly wonderful holidays.


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A last look at Berlin decorations

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Icy in London

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Oh, those Penguin notebooks!

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Ice skating at Somerset House

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The Capra season at the BFI

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Baked aubergine with feta and roast vegetables at the National Theatre

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Nice wrapping paper

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Carol singers on the South Bank

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Another visit to the British museum

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The Chinese collection at the British Museum. A crouching cat light.

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Tang figures

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A model doorway from the Ming Dynasty

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An old fashioned pillow - luckily, things have become more comfortable

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In need of refreshment with a blueberry and cheesecake muffin

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Pretty decorations at Covent Garden

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