Skating at Somerset House and Afternoon Tea by Harrods

It was getting to that time of year.

The its-ok-to-start-getting-excited-about-Christmas time of year.

You know, when they've started to put the Christmas lights on and the Christmas trees up.

And nothing says festive like skating round a rink with your boyfriend!

(I don't care that it was November ok? Italy was seriously lacking any sign of Christmas)

While this is great for a gal like me who loves whizzing around on ice, (not bragging or anything but I can kinda go  backwards)  it wasn't such a thrilling idea for James who isn't quite so good at it.

But to fulfill my greatest Christmas wish, he let me drag him down to Somerset House on Saturday morning.

There are plenty of ice rinks in London but I'd heard the one at Somerset House was particularly nice and I'd also never been there before - ok so maybe the Londoner's blog may have had something to do with it too, although I did actually want to go before I read it, jus'sayin.

You have to book your ice skating slot, which lasts an hour and are supposed to arrive 20 minutes before to get your skates and things. We were late as usual...

But no matter because we soon strapped on our skates, ready to hit the ice! 

I always feel a thrill when I step onto the ice for the first time, slightly wobbly but then my feet remember what to do and I'm off!

#Lovin' it

We skated round, hand in hand in true romantic style...until he pulled me over, somehow avoiding ending up on the ice too.

Thanks James, hand holding = over.

And soon so was our time on the ice.
It was fun, but I think an hour is just enough -. not as fit and young as I once was! 

I also liked that we could actually skate as it wasn't too crowded, unlike some Christmas rinks I've been to (although Saturday morning might have had something to to with it).

I was slightly disappointed that they didn't play any Christmas music though, but James reminded me that it was only November and the workers would probably go crazy if they had to listen to it all the time.

But surely, one play of Mariah's classic wouldn't hurt?

did have this awesome tree though
In search of more Christmasness, we headed into the world of Fortnum and Mason, who have a pop-up shop in Somerset House.

They've taken over a few rooms and filled them with their gorgeous products.

Stacking the shelves high with teas, biscuits and anything you might ever need for the perfect Christmas.

Chocolate coins = essential Christmas product
I pretty much wanted to buy everything, but of course it was all a bit out of my price range.

The shop assistants were wearing tailcoats. 

TAILCOATS! That's how posh it was. (I didn't think they'd appreciate me snapping a photo though)

Despite only being able to window shop, it definately did the trick to get me into the festive spirit!

They also have a little cafe there too, but we skipped that in favour of....

Afternoon Tea!

I have wanted to do this for ever and now seemed the perfect time. 

Where better to experience the epitome of Britishness than the capital? 

And what better way to indulge in some British culture before being all italianified again?

But I didn't just want any old Afternoon Tea, I wanted it to be good! So I did a little research and found there's an award called the Tea Guild, which is awarded for the best afternoon teas, not just the tea and food itself but for the whole service.

Among the list of last years winners was of course the Ritz.

Well, you'd kind of expect that when it's £50 per person, safe to say that one was definately out of the question!

So that was one down. I whittled down the rest by...

just picking the two cheapest! 

In the end I was pursuaded by the one with the macaroons. (I do love my macaroons).

And that's how I ended up at The Capital Hotel in Kinghtsbridge , just around the corner (literally) from Harrods. 

Super posh.

I'm talking there's a man outside in a top hat that opens the door for you posh. (ok so maybe that's not that posh but I don't usually have random men holding doors open for me!).

We were welcomed in and taken into a little room, especially for Afternoon Tea'ers.

My mouth drooled at the Menu, reeling at the fact you get ALL of this. Well, minus the champagne- that was extra, but I was desperatly in need of some proper English tea anyway.

We totally fit in here...
I went for Assam, while James went for classic English Breakfast. I can't tell you how good it was to have proper, tea leaf tea and not to have to ask for milk, with people thinking you're weird in the process. (Tea + milk really is a British thing).

We settled back and relaxed. ahh this was the life!

Soon after the tea, our food arrived: Three plates of gloriousness.

one happy chappy
Everything was super good, even the egg mayo mini-rolls, cus you know what egg mayo's normally like (and I don't even like it usually).

We devoured (in the politest way possible) sumptious coronation finger sandwiches, delicate smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels and crunchy mackeral pate and cucumber tomato breads. 

The waiter came over to ask if we wanted another round of sandwiches or if we were ready for our scones.

I bet you can guess what we said?

MORE SANDWICHES PLEASE.  (we didn't actually shout, that would've been rude).

But these dainty nibbles were surprisingly filling and I left James to finish the second round.

I mean I had to have room for dessert the desserts!

There was a nice little section of cakes and pastries, although I have to say I'm not that big a fan of patisserie, unless it's a croissant filled with Nutella, so these were probably my least favorite. (obvs just not sophisticated enough for this kind of stuff).

But I was looking forward to the macaroon. But, alas all macaroons are not made equal. It just didn't really taste of anything...apart from sugar. Where was that pistacccio?!

But all that can be forgotten because along came the scones!

We were brought FOUR, yes FOUR fresh, just-hot-out-of-the-oven scones. My stomach almost cried at having filled up on the sandwiches and pastries.

I slathered on the cream and jam.

But no matter how tasty it was I just couldn't manage the other one. Desperate not to let it go to waste, I do what I always do when I can't finish a meal (which happens pretty often).

I asked to take it away!

Ok, ok so this probably was totally inappropriate in this kind of place was just too good to leave behind! Surely that's a good thing?

And so we staggered out, into the dimming light TWO HOURS later. TWO HOURS of sipping tea and munching on wonder we could hardly move!

But I felt happy and relaxed and very very pleased with my first afternoon tea.  It was just as I had hoped for; sophisicated (err hello, just round the corner from Harrods!), relaxing (they made no attempt to quick us out or hurry us up) and we were pretty much waited on hand and foot.

And all this for under £30, which is totally reasonable, especially when you think about the 3 course meal, the tea and feeling like you've just had a spa day - that's how relaxed I was.  But probably also because I was in some kind of food coma.

With food babies the size of elephants we slooooowly made our way to Oxford street to see the Christmas lights, stopping at an intriguing art gallery we found on the way (you know to continue the sophistication). 

It was a photography exhibition (my fave) and had some really interesting stuff.

Someone doesn't like Obama...
I spotted these David Bailey ones a mile off.

Something creepy about this one...

We finally made it to the lights!

Sorry these pictures are pretty bad, but that always seems to be what happens. A camera can never do Christmas lights justice.

We finished off our day at the theatre.

The plan was to see Matilda as they do special £5 tickets on the day, but Matilda is extremely popular and there's hardly any tickets and so people queue (or so I'd heard) from like 7 in the morning. I really didn't fancy another early start. So we just went to one of those booths to get what we hoped would be a discounted ticket for that evening.

Of course all the popular ones were already sold out.... so we took a chance on Once. 
And it was good! It's a bit different from your regular all-singing all-dancing musical, as the songs were more like what you'd hear on the radio and there wasn't any of that jazz hands kind of dancing, but it was still enjoyable with just the right balance between funny and moving.

And the really cool thing,  the bar on stage actually served drinks, so you could go up there on the stage.

And now I can say I've been on stage in the West-End!

Also, another cool thing,  Ronan Keating was in the cast!!!! 

But his first day only had to be the day after we saw it didn't it?

Well, as they say, you can't have it all and we had had a pretty amazing day.