The Beginning of the End

Well, December is finally here and I'm nearing the finale of my London adventure. I promise I won't get mushy yet, but with each mini-conclusion I feel a notch sadder that the close is so... close. Mostly, though, I'm overjoyed that the two things that more free time has been opening up and stress has been lifting. I've finally reached Essay 8, I'm pretty sure I have a place to live (albeit a closet of-sorts), Drama drama is behind me, and all sorts of celebrations are coming up for end of term / Christmas / departure excitement.

Yesterday was the Pudding Race in Covent Garden. I didn't fully grasp the meaning of it, cause we only caught the tail end of the thing, but from what I gathered it's a relay race with various teams to benefit cancer research. What they have to do is balance a Christmas pudding on a plate and undergo a series of obstacle course standards to deliver it intact to the finish line. I'm always happy for an excuse to go to Covent Garden, and the day was perfect for it:

Honestly, it's hardly rained here at all. While it's very cold, the clear weather has been a blessing, and I've almost entirely forgotten the dismal irritations of umbrellas and raincoats. I'm going to be in for a rude awakening when I meet the eternal downpour/mizzle that is Seattle in January.

I think Covent Garden has some of the most fabulous architecture around London...


This guy gently walloped the bum of a middle age woman with his sword right as we passed by him. He was pretty amusing.

But I'm not sure if he trumps Trafalgar Square's Gold Guy:

I still haven't gotten over the feeling that everywhere I look in London feels like Hogsmeade. These people really do live the closest thing I can imagine to Harry Potter. I hadn't realized before now how much of what I find enchanting in the books is just traditional English culture and not magic at all!

I felt super bad for these reindeer, all caged up in this little petting zoo thing. I suppose they enjoyed the continuous flow of food, at least.

That kid seemed to share my opinion of the whole scenario.

"Kevin, what is it about you and Christmas trees?"
Here's the pudding race! It was hard to snap shots, cause the contestants were moving so quickly. There's nothing to call this but "jolly good fun."

The guys doing the benefit stuff were walking in front of us as we headed toward Trafalgar Square afterward. I snapped a shot of this guy's socks cause they were so fantastic.

On the way toward Trafalgar I saw this bike:

which I can only drool over. I also saw this:

Those black fences jostled some memory in the back of my brain, then I had this flash of sitting on the stoop with my two brothers while a certain lost wallet issue was sorted out in our visit here in 2008. Bring back memories, Dad? ;) It's always weird happening across places you'd nearly forgotten about -- especially when they suddenly align themselves with larger grid-work in your brain.

Trafalgar Square was just beautiful this afternoon. I had an absolute field day with my camera.

Bike drum set guy was super cool. There was another guy next to him coloring all the flags of the world in chalk on the pavement, asking for donations from tourists who would toss coins on their respective flag. I wasn't sure if I could take pictures of that or not, so I took pictures of my friends looking at it instead:

And all my greatest Kevin McAllister pleasures were realized yet again in the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree. Apparently Norway sends this over from its forests every year as a continued thank you for Britain's help in World War Two. I find that especially charming.

While I can never imagine spending Christmas anywhere but home, I can't even process how wonderful it must be to have Christmas in London every year. Particularly when the people you want to buy gift for aren't across an ocean -- it was tragic going to Fortnum and Mason and realizing there was just no way I could fit pickled ginger drops, mulled wine, King George Christmas cakes, AND ginger-chile biscuits in my suitcase.

I'm really going to miss these guys!! (Plus all the others not in the picture.)

AK and I climbed up this lion -- we were particularly proud of ourselves because it was so slippery we had to boost and pull each other, and the fall from the other side didn't look particularly favorable. So this is our victory pose:

The guys didn't seem to suffer this problem. They shimmied up and down our Everest like it was a molehill. I blame height benefits.

Afterwards AK and I checked out Hatchard's -- the oldest bookstore in London, with like five levels of goodness. Nothing can beat Powell's, but this was pretty sweet, in a standard sense.

Then there was Fortnum and Mason's next door, which I'm ignoring in this post out of spite for all their delicious goodies which are too heavy to take home. 

More cool window displays to be seen here:

In addition to my friends from my hall, I am without a doubt going to miss these guys, who I shared a dressing room with for a mere three days, but spent nearly every Wednesday and weekend since October tap-dancing, seig-heiling (it's The Producers, not a Nazi youth camp, I promise), and eating junk food from Sainsbury's with. If I could transport them all home to the Drama lounge, I would.

I'm also going to miss that nun outfit.


L-R: Nazi pigeons, sex-charged grannies, usherette, lesbian, and the great Ulla: none of these are typecasts, please note.

It's really hard to grasp right now how much I'll be leaving behind in a matter of weeks -- two weeks, to be exact. I think I'll always think of London as a kind of home, even though this whole adventure has really felt like a tremendous vacation. I keep going through bouts of tremendous excitement for my homecoming and miniature realizations of all the wonderful things I'll have to say goodbye to soon. It's a really a hard thing to describe.

But when I was in Trafalgar, I beheld this, and my breath caught a moment:

Whatever I can't describe, I think this image does it great justice. If any picture's truly worth a thousand words, this one is for me.

Can't wait to see you soon,

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