London seems even more magnificent in the festive season, dripping with prosperity and a lavish goodwill. On a pre-Christmas trundle the Trundler headed along a surprisingly peaceful Regent Street to Liberty, surely the capital’s most elegant of department stores.
Here she bought a tiny bottle of Frederic Malle perfume – her one present of the season before scurrying down to Uniqlo to fill her bag with the red and pink Heattech garments, necessary to fend off the biting cold of New York City.
In an attempt to inject some healthy activity into this slothful season, she trudged through the mud of Hampstead Heath. London’s lung is being carved up and turned into a huge building site in the name of preservation but is still a beautiful sanctuary. Geese swooped low over one of the ponds as The Trundler sat beside it eating a sausage roll and watching the wealthy manoeuvre their gigantic pushchairs along the Heath’s slippery tracks.
She ambled through Primrose Hill, stopping to buy Christmas cards from Mary Portas’s sleek charity shop, then headed for the grunge of Camden to renew her hair colour at the esteemed Tusk, before ending up at Bafta for a Christmas gathering, where, to her delight, she won best festive hat competition.
London is often wonderfully quiet at Christmas, which makes it a very pleasant place to be. The Trundler, however, was heading for New York to spend the festive season with her beloved daughter. So after tea at the Royal Academy, where she watched an angry Australian woman accuse the waitress of stealing her soya milk, she spent the night in the Tune Hotel, a frequent bolthole. Its plain rooms lend themselves to peace and its prices help to make staying in the city affordable.
A delicious bowl of porridge in the casual elegance of Dishoom in Kings Cross set her up for the slow journey to Gatwick and her Norwegian Airlines flight to NYC, where she was saddened by the lack of a free blanket – surely a standard requirement on flights – but otherwise full of excitement at what lay ahead.