Christmas, to me, this year, is watching Sanoop build fires and admire the dancing flames in the fireplace, going for chilly morning runs on the beach and finishing off with a dip in the ocean (I’ve never dared doing it before, but now completely understand when people say it’s addictively refreshing, winter swimming!) before rushing back to our summerhouse, barefoot, for a hot shower, walking through withered beech forests with Sanoop, drinking copious amounts of morning and afternoon white tea, black instant coffee, expensive port and favourite Spanish red wine with my parents, brother and Sanoop, having long, deep conversations with my favourite people, watching films and news and crap on tv, which feels like such a delicious novelty because we don’t have and won’t be getting a tv at home, playing boardgames with Sanoop and my brother, reading Dolly Alderton’s sweet, hilarious, touching Everything I Know About Love and flipping through my mum’s magazines and some of my dad’s books on different political topics, having no plans except for church on the afternoon on the 24th (mostly because I love the Christmas hymns and the warmth of the tradition), traditional Danish Christmas dinner and slow, mindful gift exchange (everyone watches everyone unwrap one gift at a time and thank the giver with a hug) at my grandmother’s place on Christmas Eve and no more than two other family/friends visits … Exactly as I dreamed of.
Hampstead Heath. Back in London on the 28th, we continue the movement towards making our new flat feel like home. We start a new ritual of dancing around to one catchy dance tune each morning, followed by the 5 Tibetans. It’s something we can take with us wherever we go and do almost regardless of how rushed our mornings are … it’s easy, it makes us smile, it wakes us up… On the 30th, we head out for a long walk on the Heath, discovering a lovely cafe, The Brew House, up by the stately home, Kenwood House. It all feels SO English and wholesome, hehe.
Explore, Surprise, Adventure. Sanoop turns 37 on the 29th, and I wake him up with birthday songs (3 different Danish ones beyond the English one) and a gift certificate towards a weekend in Bath. All he wants from the day is spontaneous adventures out and about in London – after the usual morning of reading most of the weekend paper, dancing, doing morning yoga and drinking his homemade chai at home. We then hop on a southbound tube and end up in Brixton, where we drink coffee while chatting to the sweet barista at an Ethiopian cafe in the Market, walk down a long, broad road and have a delicious Jamaican lunch at Negril, get a coffee refill at the cosy hipster mecca of Stir Coffee, hop on a northbound tube that takes us to Southwark, from where we walk along the river and catch Ice Watch London in front of Tate Modern, deciding to then go in and check out the panorama from the top of the museum’s newish building. Continuing along the river, we then stop for coffee and vegan cake at the Borough Market branch of Le Pain and end up in Bermondsey for cocktails at cosy Chapter 72 and a perfect simple Franco Manca fare. Such a lovely day – full of loose talk of concepts of time, giving and receiving joy, age (biological, chronological, mental), growing, what and those who shaped and continue to shape us … and full of moments to just stare mindfully at life in the streets … and excitement about Sanoop’s charitable project of the day. He has put some money in a bunch of lai see from Singapore with a little well-wishing note. Throughout the day, he hands them out to the homeless people we pass in the street, stopping to have a chat (or a quick dance, in those instances of the lucky recipient being a musician!) with each of them before we move on.