Monday, 5 December 2016

Christmas in London


Last week I returned to one of my favourite cities on the planet for a day of Christmas shopping, fancy afternoon tea and the theatre with my favourite lady, my mum. 

With me living up in Newcastle, and her in Yorkshire, it's rare that we get 'mummy-daughter days' as often as we'd like, so when the opportunity does arise, we grasp it with both hands and plan something lovely! This time, we chose London. 

After a Costa gingerbread latte wake-up call at the station and a train journey filled with chats and Bucks Fizz, we were in the Big Smoke. First stop - shopping.


Following a wander down a surprisingly quiet Oxford Street (it was the day before Black Friday, mind) we headed to the shop of dreams: Sophia Webster on Mount Street. Filled with the designer's signature butterfly shoes, speech bubble bags and amazing pastel and flamingo decor, I was in my element. Now, I just need to start saving for my first pair...



A morning of shopping meant that we had both built up quite an appetite, so we headed to somewhere I have been wanting to go ever since seeing their pretty pink interior on Instagram: Sketch

Image by Sketch London

Upon entering the building through a tall black curtain just off Conduit Street, we walked through a snow covered fir tree walkway (which smells just like Christmas!) before being met by staff members donning giant Christmas headpieces, where we were directed to The Gallery, which has walls of artwork by one of my favourite British artists, David Shrigley. 



We had booked in for the Night Before Christmas Afternoon Tea and, honestly, it was bloody amazing. With everything from caviar and quail egg sandwiches and black truffle croque-monsieur (look at us being all fancy) to fresh warm scones served with fig and strawberry jams, we were left more than satisfied. And even better, you can order more of everything - so if you enjoyed some sandwiches more than others, you can get double or even triple helpings!

The extensive tea menu was unlimited and served in unique crockery, also designed by David Shrigley.


One of my favourite parts of Sketch however, bar the amazing food and service, had to be the toilets! If you're on Instagram, it's likely that you've probably seen the weird and wonderful 'dragon eggs'...



Like the rest of the internet, I had to get a picture of myself in there! And of course, as it's nearly Christmas, the bathroom also had a giant forest of snow covered fir trees right in the middle...

Fun fact: the toilet cleaners wear maid outfits and literally survey the toilets constantly so there's never any nasty surprises or a 'no toilet roll' situation.

After a lovely afternoon stuffing our faces, we headed for a long walk - food babies in tow - through Covent Garden, Carnaby Street and then down to the South Bank to see the Christmas markets before a night at the theatre, where we saw our all time favourite West End show - Wicked.


Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz is now in its tenth year in London (CONGRATULOTIONS!), which means there's an extra special 10th anniversary cast in place to celebrate.

Having seen the spellbinding show twice before as it toured the UK (read my first review here), I already knew I was in for a treat - but with an allstar cast including Rachel Tucker (as Elphaba), Suzie Mathers (as Glinda), Eastenders' Anita Dobson (as Madame Morrible) and Mark Curry (as the Wizard), we were truly blown away. 


We were incredibly lucky to be sat only six rows from the front (thank you, Wicked!), which meant we got to witness the beautifully designed costumes in detail, the absolute determination and passion in the face of each and every cast member, the colourful set design, the impeccable orchestra who never miss a beat and of course, the winged monkeys (which are even more terrifying close up!)


The musical's songs, which I can now recite from memory after listening to the CD on repeat, were executed perfectly by the entire cast but especially the show's leading ladies, Suzie Mathers and Rachel Tucker. 

Of course, I got goosebumps and cried at Defying Gravity (I do every time) but for the first time, I also found myself having a tear or three at the pair singing For Good. It was the best duet I've ever seen, both on stage and off, and the relationship and bond between the pair was clear to see. Just, beautiful.

My mum even had her nails done especially for the occasion. Image and nails by Tracy Charnley

After mopping up our tears and joining in the standing ovation, we headed for the train home after the most magical day in London. I think we may have found our new Christmas tradition...

If you fancy taking your mum, your nan, your friend or just treating yourself to an early Christmas present, Wicked have added some extra shows for the holiday season. Get tickets here.


Wicked has also been nominated for 'Best West End Show' at the 17th Annual What's On Stage Awards, so if you love Wicked as much as me and want to give them a 10th birthday present in the form of a vote, please head to WickedtheMusical.co.uk/Vote

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