Last look of London before traveling. I had a surprisingly successful season’s last outing on Monday (which turns out to be the best day to go; even Oxford Street was fairly quiet) two weeks ago. I walked along the river from Westminster to St Paul’s; I had planned to visit the Soutbank Christmas market, but was lured to the riverbed exposed by low tide. And what a treasure trove it was! – oyster shells and bones and pieces of china, with perfectly worn round edges. I even found a clay pipe. There are very few people down on the riverbank (though there was a very loud oompah band playing Jingle Bells again and again), making this a strangely solitary, quiet pursuit.
Day after, I was on a plane to Finland. The weather has been poor until mid-December, and I was dreading for another black, gloomy Christmas. Holidays last year were rather trying – the weather was too poor to go out and the arctic darkness oppressing without snow. This time couldn’t have been more different. The temperatures have dropped to as low as -25°C, the trees are covered in snow and frost, the skies have been clear. Days are still short and afternoons dark, but the snow makes all the difference. Spending time with my family has been surprisingly peaceful this time – my parents are elderly, and because of my mother’s Alzheimer’s, there usually tends to be some drama, but this time we have so far been spared from doctor’s visits and midnight ambulance calls. And it is Christmas.