Having a Little Christmas

There are a billion and one facets of London to gloat about. I'm sure I've already covered many in obnoxious Facebook status and pictures on this blog. As a student, however, one of those best bragging points is Reading Week.

Reading Week is yet another brilliant British invention where students are given a week off from classes to catch up on their work. It's well timed -- right about where midterms would normally happen; when everyone's partied too hard, procrastinated too much, and has tired of the novelty of new classes. Even I, who have been obsessing about my workload since I got here, am in need of the extra time -- I've still got 4 essays to write and 8 novels to read (plus some various articles), and that's excluding the plays and poems I didn't bother to read for lecture that I'd like to delve into if time allows. Anyway, all this is to say I'm looking forward to a week of more relaxed study.

Today I overslept breakfast and used it as an excuse to enjoy a chocolate scone from Harrod's and a peppermint mocha from Starbucks. Sleeping in was probably the best decision I've made all day. Peppermint mochas are a delicacy I have to be careful not to give into too often once the Christmas season hits, but I didn't feel too guilty with an 8 oz one. As for the Harrods scone, it took ages wandering through that food court trying to decide on just one thing to get -- I would gladly have also taken a hazelnut butterscotch eclair, shortbread mince pie, Moroccan cous cous salad, asparagus salad, and veggie pasty as well, but lord knows I couldn't afford all that or eat -- well, no, I probably could eat all that, but not without feeling pretty awful about it afterward. I finally settled on the scone because it was cheap, and I was glad to find it was the second best decision I made all day. If you can imagine the balanced flavor of a walnut chocolate chip cookie with the consistency of a buttermilk biscuit and the sinful dissolve of shortbread, you have something close to this pastry-of-the-gods. And it just got BETTER with every bite. I probably shouldn't have coupled it with a peppermint mocha -- it would've been much better balanced with a hot cup of tea -- but excitement overruled.

The scone went too fast for me to photo. Click here to drool.

Before I settled on my breakfast, I cruised Harrods and felt quite a bit like Holly Go-Lightly, staring wistfully at everything I couldn't (and frankly don't ever want to be able to) afford. While it was tempting to imagine an alternate reality where I wore faux fur shrugs, immensely high suede black heels, perfectly tapered dresses, Cartier rings and Dolce & Gabbana bags; where I met with "the girls" over reduced-fat petit fours and loose-leaf tea; where my bright flat was decorated with Moroccan floor vases and mod furniture so polished you could see your face reflected back at you over dinner -- I'm not sure I'd ever really like to live like that. It's a lot more fun to dream about it. After all, the last thing I need in my life is more shopping options. I still have yet to buy myself even one sweater. I'm apparently a sweater-perfectionist.

An unexpected surprise greeted me at one corner of Harrod's: a sign that read "Harry Potter Shop" with a cheeky little arrow like it knew I couldn't resist immediately following it. It took quite some time to find the place, actually, but when I finally turned the right corner I was greeted by this like 6'5" guy dressed up in Griffindor robes and holding a wand, saying something very enthusiastically about Olivanders to my right and taking as many pictures as I pleased. "The exciting thing is that everything -- this statue, this cart here is REAL!" At this point I sort of thought he was regurgitating a charming market strategy. (Sure, man, I'm sure all I have to do is swish and flick one of those replica sticks and *boom* I'm Harry Potter, all for the price of £50!) Then he continued " -- all straight from the film sets!" and as I took a look around, I realized in breathless wonder what I'd blissfully managed to stumble upon...


Oh my did the pictures happen.

The actors' wands -- sorry about the quality.

Great Hall bench.

Recreated Divination class.

Would love my living room to look like this someday.

I think my favorite had to be this...

Hermione's dress from Fleur's wedding

Luna's from Slughorn Party
Gads, I would kill for that dress.

Ginny's? Not sure.

But these two were a close second...

Bellatrix costume -- Katie, this made me think of you!!


It was kind of unreal. I haven't had a lot of chance to exercise my inner Potter-nerd, what with the books and movies being all over now. Such a delightful surprise! My only criticism was the under-representation of Ron...

So many faces to love.

Outside, Harrods had some really cool Christmas windows going on:

Oh hayyy!
Just kidding. But seriously:

"Genevieve! You've exploded in beads!"
"Harold. Don't mess up my sequins."


"Moon dreadlock goddess right hurr."

These two require an ice tree chaperone.

"You're a bird. And I'm a cat. And I'm gonna pounce you."
"Try it, Frostylocks."

"Gee, Lucas, it's sure hard being plastic and gorgeous all the time."
Really, creating window displays like these would be sort of a dream job for me. I guess if my other billion back-ups fall through, I'll know where to go....

After Harrods I decided to head homeward. This was at like 1pm. I'd taken the tube down, but figured it'd be cheaper and more interesting to walk back. I arrived back at 5pm. Should tell you how focused I am as soon as parks and shopping cross my path.

But I LOVE Hyde Park. I think I still love Regent's more, but it's a very close call. Beautiful foliage here as well...

By and by I realized I was on the same route my family had taken our our way to Harrods during our visit three years ago. It happened when I noticed this rock:

When I saw it today from far off (before I could read the writing) I thought "Wow, what a random rock! I wonder what it's doing in the midst of a park. It'd be a great place to sit on and picnic or something..."

Which is exactly the same thing I remember voicing to Cameron the last time I was here:

Uhhh, Rach? Maybe not.


is where this:

and this:



Anyway, that was exciting for me -- felt like being back with the fam!

Miss you guys.

About halfway through the park I came across a bunch of workers who were setting up amusement park rides for some kind of Christmas carnival. Being out of use at present, they had this eerie kind of "haunted childhood" quality...

I'm half wanting to come back and ride these when they're up and running. I love amusement parks when they're all lit up at night!!

That guy you can just barely see in the bottom of this pic didn't seem to pleased with what I was doing. Or was perhaps too pleased. As I walked away he was like, "Ello, love! Now that you've taken my picture, can I have one of you?" I sort of wanted to remind him it was the machinery that was interesting me, not him, but you can't fight impertinence with cheek, so I carried on.

Oxford Street from Hyde Park exit/entrance.

Oxford Street is on its way to becoming completely overrun with all things Christmas. A couple nights back I tried to catch the switching on of the first lights (such as the umbrella thing you see above the bus here) but I didn't make it / got lost / got cold. They were still pretty cool in the day...

And of course there were more interesting window displays to be seen...

These ladies were my favorite.
Emma, guuuurl, just saw your threads at Harrods.
Mannequin Men. Seeking snowbunnies. Friends with ALL the trees.

It isn't getting any easier to accept that December 25th is still four essays and about twice as many weeks away with all this early celebration. I've had my peppermint Starbucks. I'm checked out of school. Mariah Carey, an artist I will only accept in my life as Christmas (BABY PLEEEEEASE COME HOO-OME!) approaches, has just come through on iTunes. I'm full-on ready for snow NOW.

That being said, I'm going to have a surrogate Thanksgiving with some school friends and watch Little Women, since I'm missing my Hannah-Jo and my Katie-Meg. If anyone has some good Thanksgiving recipes to share with my London brethren, send 'em my way!!

Love to all,

For all my sweater-hunting incapacitates, I did manage to buy some new socks. Feeling much less like an orphan child now.

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