“oh the weather outside is frightful…”
You got that right Bing!
On Thursday, the night the heavens opened up and lashed the city with thunder, I made my way to Kew Gardens for an after dark Christmas visit. Visitors get to explore the Gardens along an illuminated trail, followed by a browse in a Christmas market. Sounded like a brilliant festive adventure to me! Luckily, by the time Luan and I had made it there, the rain stopped and we were able to enjoy the trail without too much of a soaking.
Armed with a warm parka jacket and a torch, we set upon the trail…
Walking along the trail was like being in some sort of Narnia-meets-Christmas-meets-Alice in Wonderland park. Handy tip- WEAR WELLIES. The trail is muddy and squelchy and your Converse trainers will not like it. I’d really recommend bringing a torch as well, it was a lifesaver!
Colourful lights and lanterns lit up the trees, street lamps cast snowflake patterned shadows onto the ground, and every now and then we’d come across gramophones telling us about the trees in our surroundings. We literally lost our marbles crossing over a bridge, throwing them into the coloured hoops in the lake to help stimulate the plant life.
Halfway through the trail, we came towards a log cabin selling hot dogs, waffles and hot chocolate. If only it could have snowed! It was so festive and pretty, standing in the dark, under the shadows of the trees, with the smell of mulled wine in the air. Further along the path, the orange glow we saw in the distance was actually a Fire Garden. At that moment, I wished I had brought along marshmallows.
As we came towards the end of the trail, we ducked into the Waterlily House that had been transformed into the home of a giant pink Lotus plant.
The most breathtaking thing about this was seeing the reflection of the flower in the pond- perfectly symmetrical!
Finally, we reached the warmth of the gift shop and scarfed down a hot dog from the Christmas market before picking out some souvenirs to take home. I’m a massive sucker for candy canes! Well…a massive sucker for candy anything, let’s be honest. It took every ounce of will power to not poke the marshmallow snowmen!
Walking through the Christmas market wrapped up warm in my parka, surrounded by stalls of roasted chestnuts, watching the carousel horses go round and round, couldn’t have been further from the Christmases that I grew up with back in Brunei.
Christmas in Brunei was hot! 365 days of sunshine a year. Turkeys weren’t as easy to get, so I remember lots of roast beef or chicken for Christmas dinner. Being in the tropics meant our Christmas tree was always of the plastic variety! Decorating the tree was a family affair and my Dad was always the one that had to put the fairy on top of the tree. Instead of Christmas pudding, dessert was usually Christmas cake that someone had brought back from England or my favourite- homemade pavlova from a family friend! Of course, the Christmas playlist was usually Cliff Richard crooning about mistletoe and wine, thanks to my mum….*groan* Afterwards, there were always visits to friend’s houses for more food!
Millennium Hotels have compiled a list of Christmas traditions around the world, that you can read here. I guess I’m the only one subjected to Cliff Richard tunes though…
Kew Gardens is one of my favourite places in London, and I can’t wait to make this a tradition every year. You can get tickets on their website. Wellies and a hipflask at the ready!
My tickets to Christmas at Kew were comped on behalf of Millennium Hotels.