Pop-up ice skating rinks are a big deal around Christmas time in London, and in most instances you have to book early to get a slot on a weekend, especially at the main event, in Hyde Park’s ‘Winter Wonderland’. Blake kindly surprised me one weekend with an afternoon skating session where we got the basics down, and the following week we took ourselves to the Canary Wharf ice skating rink which was also very nice, for an evening skate session.
As two people accustomed to Decembers involving wearing as little clothing as possible so as to not die of heat stroke, as well as googling ‘ways to keep cool on the train home at the end of a hot Australian summers day’ which I have definitely
not done at some stage, Christmas themed ice skating was a big novelty. We would have loved to have gone more than twice but were trying to save money at the time – but next year, watch out London pop up rinks, we’re a-comin’! As newbies in the iceskating world, we spent a bit more time than most holding onto the edge of the rink for dear life. Blake did at one point entertain the idea of getting one of the big plastic penguins that lots of our fellow ice skaters were using to hold onto but unfortunately they were for ages 8 and under only. Maybe one day.
A cash-saving activity we found ourselves on several times during winter was venturing out to the many forests dotted on the outskirts of London to walk around and exploring. The great outdoors in England is quite different to Australian bush although we’ve definitely replaced one of our favourite Aussie weekend activities, bushwalking, with … forest walking? Hiking? I’m not quite sure what you’d call it, but whatever it is, I love it. It’s really refreshing to get away from the hustle and bustle of London, which seems to be switched on 24/7, and instead wander through beautiful trees and idyllic pathways set between row upon row of majestic trees that seem to overpower the English forest land here. Also, there are deer reserves in a lot of English forests!
One particularly excellent explore was to Epping Forest, which we have visited a few times now. We were almost thwarted by the really intense wind and the fact that I am a fool and didn’t bring a hair tie with me [flashback to the time we hired a boat and went out fishing on a freezing cold day and I only had a flimsy cardigan] which was quickly remedied by Blake’s suggestion of using an iPod charging cord. Ladies, it works. It doesn’t work well but it will get you out of dire situations such as hiking on a stupidly windy day without a hair tie. If that’s not a first world problem then I don’t know what is. We found the perfect lunching log to eat our picnic lunch (including home baked pumpkin choc chip cookies courtesy of an obsession I was having with pumpkin flavoured things at the time), and spent a good 4 hours walking through the forest and chatting. It was pretty glorious.