Somerset House is one of my favourite places to visit in London in December. I love it at this time of year – in fact I don’t think I’ve ever been at any other time – when the quad in the middle of the 17th century buildings is transformed into a skating rink. I’m back in London, just for two days, and have managed to squeeze in a visit to this winter London landmark with my sister.
For logistical reasons we had to come here earlier in the day than we would have perhaps liked to have done, (the ice rink looks even better once it’s dark) but I was glad we did, the stone in the wintery morning light was incredible
Despite the fact that the centre of Somerset House becomes a skating rink every single Christmas and that we used to live around the corner from it in Bloomsbury, I am a terrible skater – a labrador on a wet marble floor springs to mind – but that minor detail didn’t stop me from dressing for the occasion
(This fur isn’t the real deal, it’s actually Zara UK’s best-selling fake fur stole that I swiped from Sis to keep me warm on the walk over.)
The letters, above, say it all. It is almost all about skating. The option of using one of their ‘penguins’ as an aid was appealing (below). You push one in front of you and what you lose in the cool stakes, you make up for in the not-falling-on-your-arse stakes
But no, on closer inspection, penguins were only for people under the age of eight. Rather than clinging helplessly to the sides, Sis and I decided to see the Isabella Blow exhibition which is running here until early March next year.
A serious inspiration to so many British – now international – designers from Julien Macdonald to Alexander McQueen, not forgetting Philip Treacy, whatever you thought of her and her extreme dressing (she was once overheard at the offices of UK Vogue, where she was working at the time, saying she really needed to channel a silhouette that would fit in to a car) you really couldn’t fault her talent for finding talent.
We had a quick post exhibition window shop at the Christmas Arcade in Somerset House’s West Wing, where everything for sale was proudly made in Britain. The entrance was marked by lovely lit white sprays of twigs
As much as I like to buy local it was, sadly, all very over priced. I was quite seduced by the idea of these lovely lined gloves that can be worn turned up to show off their Liberty print fabric, or worn turned down…but then I remembered that I spend nine tenths of my time in the tropics where they wouldn’t be a whole lot of use.
These candlesticks (below) though were a serious contender and I liked the fact they would allow me to legitimately save old wine bottles with pretty labels. They cost £22 (SGD$44) which I don’t think is too bad.
The last temptation was a beautifully created and heavenly scented handmade wreath which put any of my former DIY attempts to shame, so after a quick bite in Tom’s Kitchen (also in Somerset House)…
…we scuttled home via Waterloo Bridge just in time to catch a breath taking view of Westminster as we rushed for our train.