48 Days?

Friday, November 18, 2005


Written by Chantelle Petersen

I received an e-mail from my grandma last week entitled "48 more days," which was a countdown to the day I return. Although it was nice to know that she's anticipating my return, it gave me a reality check about how much time I actually have left here. Because I'm in the city day in and day out, I've taken advantage of the fact that there's still so much I haven't seen and I have so many things to experience before I leave. This thought has sent me into a bit of a frenzy. I'm now trying to cram as much sight-seeing into every day as I can - I don't want any more idle days in my unbelievably uncomfortable hostel bed, I'm trying to use all the time I have walking around the city and discovering new places.

Just on the weekend for example, I got up at quarter to eight to take a bus to Harrods for a Christmas parade. In this consumer-driven city Christmas comes even earlier than in Toronto or the states who usually have Thanksgiving day parades at the end of November. Apparently, I did not wake early enough and had to take on several toddlers to get a glimpse of the big guy in red. The parade was a true spectacle, complete with fake snow created by huge bubble machines at the top of the building that piled in everyone's hair and is gloriously captured in some of my pictures. Afterwards, I walked around the hugest department store I've ever been in, lapping the chocolate section (yes a whole room dedicated to it) to pick up some free samples. In keeping with the spirit, I then took the Egyptian elevators (dedicated to Dodi Al Fayed) to the Christmas room/floor and picked up some great ornaments for gifts when I get back.

After my spree at Harrods I walked to Notting Hill for a tour down Portobello road. I had also surprisingly never been there before and Saturday mornings are the time to go. Since I spent so much money at Harrods though, all I splurged on was a loaf of cornbread. I'll definitely go back to pick some antique jewellery the next Saturday I have free.

I was so tired from my morning of shopping that I took a nap when I got home in preparation of a long night ahead of me. I went to Chinawhite, a club that was once the London celebrity hotspot but has recently become more mainstream, although I still had to throw down 20 quid cover! It was well worth it for a one-time experience, the music was awesome, the people were laid-back and if you wanted a break from the dance floor it wasn't hard to find lounge chairs with mounds of Chinese and Indian-inspired pillows. I walked home from this Soho club and was overjoyed to see that the all the streets were also decorated for Christmas. The narrow roads had large blue lights strewn between them with large white snowflakes to put everyone in a wintery mood.

The next morning I slept in until 12 (I got home at 5) and then got ready to take part in another quintessentially English experience - high tea - while my roommate prepared to celebrity-watch at the Harry Potter premiere. High tea was fabulous, I walked into a lush lobby at the Dorchester and waited for my half two seating. I flipped through three pages of tea options and settled on Paris flavoured with caramel and bergamot, and waited for the food trays to arrive. A gentleman brought our individual pots of tea (which fit about three cups each) and then came around twice with finger sandwiches, scones compete with Devonshire cream, blackcurrant and strawberry jam, and a plate of pastries. I took advantage of eating outside of my residence and helped myself to as many of these delights as my stomach could hold.

On my journey home, I couldn't help thinking about home in Canada. I had an awesome weekend, really busy and full of new experiences but everything I did reminded me that the holidays were coming up and I really craved some family. My high tea companions were actually friends of my Mom's who I hadn't seen in at least five years and all our talk brought me back to my life in Canada and part of me felt anxious to be at home and just forget about everything I've still left to do.

But the fact of the matter is, although I never acknowledge it, I'm actually in school here. Even if I wanted to (and I'm not sure I do) go home, I have courses to finish. Plus I still have a week in Paris to look forward to, hopefully the grim situation there clears up before I visit. So I'm still trying to live the days I have left here to the fullest. I know when I get back to Guelph and even Toronto I'll be terribly bored but I can't wait to be reunited with my friends and family.

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