A Christmas Eve cycle tour of London

Hyde_park

It was a beautiful day here in London today. The sky was a cloudless azure and the sun was out in all its glory. I swear it felt almost tropical, with no need for gloves or scarf or winter coat.

The two of us decided to make the most of the unseasonal weather and so, having done all our Christmas shopping yesterday, we went for a bike ride to Hyde Park to “tool around” on two wheels.

We had a late breakfast purchased from the Hyde Park Corner “refreshment point” (bacon roll for T, chocolate muffin for me, and two cups of steaming hot coffee), before getting back into the saddle again.

After pottering around the cycle paths for half-hour or so, we left the safety of the park and headed for the back streets of South Kensington, behind the simple grandeur that is the Royal Albert Hall.

There were very few people about and little traffic – perfect conditions for exploring hidden mews and gorgeous little laneways. We stopped often to take photographs and admire buildings and streetscapes.

Mews

In the background was the constant chiming of church bells ringing out over this posh little slice of London.

Later, in a mews that housed an expensive car show room where T drooled over the wares inside, we found a little corner pub. It was cosy inside, with dark polished wood, purple walls and dazzling chandeliers. The table we sat at was originally designed for an old Singer sewing-machine (my mum had one of those!), with wrought-iron legs.

We didn’t expect food to be available (it was after 2pm), so we were surprised to find an extensive menu up for grabs. As well as a yummy ciabatta with cheddar and caramelised onion chutney, we shared a bowl of the best hand-cut chunky chips I’ve had in a long while and a smaller plate of wedges. And we washed it all down with Fruili strawberry beer, refreshing and sparkling, a bit like an alcoholic smoothie.

Back on our bikes, we cycled along more back streets – past the late Freddie Mercury’s house, where two fans stood examining the graffiti scratched on the entrance door – and wound our way slowly home, arriving four hours after we left.

It was still sunny and bright, and as we sat indoors, reviving ourselves with cups of coffee, we watched the sky through the venetian blinds turn a delicious wash of pink then orange then dark violet as the sun set in the once abnormally blue London sky.