Originally Posted - 1 Jan 2009
Oh what a different experience this time.
Of course you may remember that back in the summer I blogged about my visit to London with db, my wonderful adventure into the capital with my sub-lover, he took me on the London Eye, we wandered around in the balmy evening crowds, ate Chinese, visited a ‘magical’ wine bar and perused the shops in Soho. It was a wonderful day, he wearing my recently presented collar, me so proud and thrilled and confident with him by my side.
Christmas has been both lovely and emotionally painful at the same time, my brother and parents spending time with us, my girls a year older each Christmas changing the dynamics as they become young adults, calm relaxing days at home indulging in too much food and drink, and of course familiar warm company in the form of my long-suffering husband.
As we were all thrown together for New Years Eve, no party invites, no visitors planned and 2 girls who would grumble at the ‘boring’ night in, I suggested that we drive the 100+ miles down to the capital and witness for ourselves the festivities that we watch from the safety and warmth of our living rooms each year. The suggestion was greeted with first tentative then enthusiastic yes’s!
And so that is what we did! Armed with hats, scarves and gloves donned in layers and secure bags we set off down the motorway and headed to ‘town’.
We arrived safely and easily and the girls got excited as the spotted landmarks, the Natural History Museum surrounded by tiny-fairy-light festooned trees, Harrods (obscenely lit up like some Arab temple), Harvey Nicks with its classy sale windows, and finding ourselves in a ‘fairly familiar’ area and not knowing quite where all the road closures would kick in, we decided to park and take to the streets.
We wrapped ourselves in the coats and garb stashed in the boot, memorised streets and surrounding building to locate ourselves and headed off in the general direction of the ‘action’. We passed though Royal Parks and Buckingham Palace, Park Lane (the girls intrigued at the huge queue of young party-goers waiting to enter into a rather exclusive looking hotel for what was probably a disgustingly expensive night out), we trekked down traffic-less streets as vehicles were diverted away from the centre, we followed fellow ‘revellers’ convinced that everyone knew where they were going except us! Eventually the London Eye all lit with coloured lights came into view, our destination, directions to viewing areas lit up to follow.
So many sites and sounds, the girls first taste of big city life on a New Years Eve (crowds in our home city centre will never again seem daunting by comparison), Police presence on every corner, mounted Police parading in the street (avoiding the horse shit became as big a challenge as finding the way) and every nationality of every shape and size seemed to fill the streets.
We eventually made the decision to head down the Strand to view it all from Waterloo Bridge. (I was a little disappointed that we weren’t directly facing the display but found being where I had been with db very painful at times so with hindsight was probably best where we were) I stood with my family, looking at my beautiful girls glowy and chilled from the night air, my husband by my side protective of his brood, wiggling to broadcast music played over huge speakers as the hour or so turned to mere minutes till the new day arrived.
The countdown…..10, 9, 8……..and everyone chanted along……5, 4…….we all smiling at each other among the crowd…….2, 1….HAPPY NEW YEAR!! 2009!! Big Ben struck midnight accompanied by the boom of 12 explosive fireworks synchronised with each bong of the huge bell, we all hugged and then the crowd fell strangely quiet as the fireworks began!
It was an experience. I am not sure one I would wish to do again but an experience never the less. I remembered how safe and secure I had felt with db in the summer, my man beside me who was familiar with London life and streets, who knew where he was taking me and where we were visiting, who pointed out places of interest and landmarks and I thought how at odds I felt while there with my family but I think now looking back it was because I had my girls with me, my nurture and protect head was on, not the carefree reveller but the responsible parent, we grasped a ‘child’ each and clung on as we headed back through the crowds, aware of drunken rowdiness and the heaving partiers. (Around 700,000 the papers report today!)
And as we left and I looked back at the huge London Eye still illuminated against the night sky, framed by trees and buildings, I remembered my first view of it back in July with db and my eyes sprang with tears and I gripped onto my beautiful daughter and trekked on back to the car.
We passed back through the streets, returning over the park, passing the earlier party-goers from the posh hotel, not immune by their expensive night out from the indignity of sitting crumpled in the gutter as they puked on their shoes and argued with their girlfriends. We got back to the warmth of our car and headed back home, travelling the still busy streets and speeding through the night returning to “The North” as the motorway signs so quaintly call it. And we arrived back safely, our family, to our warm home and beds and the beginning of a new year for us to face, new challenges to deal with and maybe new hope for a kind and calm year.
Happy New Year, may it bring you whatever dreams you hold in your heart and if it doesn’t remember the experiences you have had along the way.