under a red umbrella

I have to admit that there are some times when London feels like awfully hard work. Getting on and off endless buses and tubes and trains. Fighting your way through rush hour crowds. Negotiating the pedestrian crossings at Oxford Circus. Battling your way round Sainsbury’s in Angel on a Saturday afternoon. Encountering numerous random people who seem to be unaccountably angry about absolutely everything, for example, the man at Highbury and Islington station who has been known to stand on the platform and shout “You’re a LIAR” at the TFL guy with the megaphone when he’s just announced that a Good Service Is Currently Operating on the Victoria Line.

But then there are those other moments when London feels like everything you want it to be. Just recently, I was walking down Regent Street on one of those dark, wet evenings when everyone is hurrying to get home. All around me, everyone was elbowing their way onto buses and down into Oxford Circus underground station, but safe in the shelter of my red umbrella, there was something strangely pleasing about dawdling along the street, taking in all the shop windows, and admiring the kitsch Christmas lights down Carnaby Street. Shimmering with the rain, the street seemed transformed into somewhere unexpectedly magical. Perhaps for no other reason that everyone else was hurrying away into the dark at such a pace, for a moment or two, I felt as if the city belonged to me alone.

The crowning touch was stepping into Liberty’s to check out Luella’s Christmas grotto, and of course, to admire the magical Christmas windows – a riot of charmingly festive nostalgia:

For more pictures of the lovely Luella windows, check out Wee Birdy and Wish Wish Wish.

P.S. Whilst we're on the subject of Christmas windows, I must briefly mention the fabulous windows at Harrods, which this year have a special Wizard of Oz theme to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the film! You can even buy your very own pair of ruby slippers, though sadly by the time I had made it to Knightsbridge they had all sold out...

[Liberty's window image via Dazed Digital]