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Christmas time

If anybody has a chance to go see Mary Poppins on Broadway – we highly recommend it. Going by our Travelog ratings system, ♥♥♥. Magnificent production, great songs, fun all around. In a word, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!!

We went to the city rather late last night, so as to not tire the children much prior to 7:30 showing. The plan was to take a walk along some central streets gazing at Christmas decorations and partaking in holiday atmosphere. Oxford Street and especially Regent Street did not disappoint. Festive illumination, big stores decked in lights, occasional street music, throngs of people – it definitely felt like Christmas. Not a whiff of snow, but, hey, who’s keeping score…

We also took a stroll through Soho theater district. I’ve been to Covent Garden several times, but never walked through Soho pedestrianized area. It has a reputation of being seedy and sleazy, and even purported sexual thrills reportedly often take shape of con and extortion. However, keeping to more or less crowded streets, we formed a largely positive impression of the area as a trendy place. All of the theaters are mostly here, and there are hundreds of nice cafes and restaurants, as well as some smart boutiques. Sex shops are positioned smack in between of more wholesome institutions, but they are not many (although Becky did comment on how inappropriate it was for me to steal a glance in certain direction…) I suspect that the least reputable establishments can be found on back streets, but I figure you can be in the area with kids and never come across them if you choose your route carefully.

After the play, we walked down to Trafalgar Square to take a look at the tree there. It is a real tree, brought to London every year from Oslo (a tradition dating back to 1947), not hundreds of branches artificially put together as in Rockefeller Plaza. On the expanse of the square, with Nelson Column in front and two large fountains on each side, the tree looks somewhat smallish, but it is entirely impressive once you stand right by it.

The illuminated square is awfully pretty at night, and not at all crowded.

By the way, we bought our very good orchestra (in England, it is called Stalls) tickets on eBay. At face value, at that. The show is sold out through September of next year. eBay rulez!!!

Christmas is when all in England stops. Everything was closing at 3pm today and will remain closed through Monday. Stores, shops, museums, even most of the transportation. We will have to think hard about what, if anything, we can be doing tomorrow. I expect that even public parks may be closed, given that there will not be any service workers on duty. I should make it a point to go and check…

After the late bedtime yesterday, the kids – and their father – slept in late this morning, so we did not do much today either. Natasha went on solitary shopping expedition to nearby High Street, and bought a few gifts, while the girls and I rotated among two computers and the TV.

Natasha and I later reflected on how holidays are certainly the hardest time to be away from family and friends. Even though it is clearly a trick of memory, we just cannot recollect spending major holidays in the last few years without either entertaining or going to visit somebody. Even Christmas, which we never celebrate, but always use as an occasion for friendly get-togethers. How about the famous one in ’93, with Grisha and his electric piano performing Крылатые Качели

On this jolly reminiscence, I bid you a good night and hope that your holidays bring you lots of joy and merriment!