When I started this blog, it was very firmly my intention to write about the things I enjoy in London, particularly those which are either free or don’t cost very much! Somehow, I’ve been sidetracked recently, but there’s just time to jot down a few thoughts about Christmas before the holiday season ends.
One of my favourite museums is the Geffrye, which charts the history of interior design over the last four hundred years. The museum consists of a series of rooms, all reflecting a period in the past, and, at Christmas, the rooms are transformed with appropriate decorations. I particularly like the 1630 hall with its wood panelling, the wonderful evergreen chandelier, and the garland over the mantelpiece. It is simple yet effective. A couple of years ago, I tried to emulate the chandelier, but I’m afraid my version with intertwined vine branches, holly, and fir cones didn’t live up to the original, which is made with box (buxus sempervirens).
I note that this exhibition lasts until 5 January – one day after the snow is due to disappear from my blog – so still time to enjoy it!
It’s also worth mentioning the café, which overlooks the period gardens. The seasonal Geffrye pie, based on a Victorian recipe and involving turkey and ham in a white sauce, was delicious and somewhat different from the normal fayre.
Talking of food, Borough Market is very colourful at Christmas with its stalls of fruit and vegetables, and, for the less squeamish, hanging rabbits and other game. It is worth strolling around under the Victorian girders, even if you’ve no intention of buying anything, although you may find some of the exotic mushrooms and salamis hard to resist. On this occasion, I also nipped into nearby Southwark Cathedral – always bright and welcoming – and attached myself to a group of American tourists who were admiring the Shakespeare window and memorial. Of course both the window and memorial are permanent features and will still be here long after Christmas has finished, but the window looks especially fine when the low winter’s sun is shining through it. And it’s fun to stand and pick out the various plays depicted. Below is a detail from Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest.