Things That Bestow That Fuzzy Feeling
As part of our Christmas mission to spread The Fuzzy Feeling - the sense of coziness, sentimentality and warmth which defines the season - every Friday we're bringing you a weekly roundup of our Fuzzy Favourites.
We’ve handpicked a selection of our favourite ways to spend (or merely survive!) the festive season, drawing on our hometown of London as chief inspiration. Check in each week throughout December for our advent calendar of ‘fuzzy favourites’.
Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol is probably the more obvious choice for this time of year, but if you’re after a book to curl up with on a cold December evening, ‘Expectations is one of the best and probably the most personal of his novels. Focusing on a bitter jilted bride still in her tattered wedding gown 20 years later, the unhinged Miss Havisham is one of the most magnificent monsters in English literature (and a warning of what can happen if you obsess over an ex). It’s a rags-to-riches tale of emotional manipulation, staying true to one’s roots and the true meaning of class, all set against the bleak backdrop of Dickensian London (no other author captures the heart of The Big Smoke quite like him).
- Place: Borough Market, Southwark
This heaving Christmas market can be a bit of a tourist trap (go on Thursday or Friday afternoons if you can to avoid the Saturday crush) but the food and atmosphere are all worth it. Weaving your way through the crowds, expect to encounter scents of spiky mulled wine, cured meat, lobsters on ice and gargantuan dishes of sizzling paella, while you can take respite (and nibble some cheese) in the cool surroundings of Neal’s Yard Dairy. Go to admire the beautiful Victorian arches and stay for the takeaway chorizo burgers from Brindisa. Round off your visit with a walk along the neighbouring South Bank.
A children’s classic that adults love too – what could be better than walking through a wardrobe and finding snow-blanketed Narnia at the other side of it? (We guarantee almost every British child has tried walking through their parents’ wardrobe at some point, thanks to this book). From White Witches to messianic lions, Turkish Delight, centaurs and a land cursed for being “always winter and never Christmas” the pace never lets up. For extra nostalgia, watch the 1979 animated film version, which brings the campy kitsch fun in spades.
- Film: Spirited Away (2001)
Whether you’re fan of Japanese production house Studio Ghibli or a complete newcomer, Hayao Miyazaki’s moving, escapist masterpiece is the jewel in its crown and should be staple viewing come Christmas time. Its unlikely heroine is Chihiro, who - in the middle of moving house with her family - encounters a ghostly bathhouse and finds her parents have inconveniently been turned into pigs. So she enlists the help of a cantankerous, multi-limbed ‘Boiler Man’ and the bath house’s formidable matriarch sorceress Yubaba to try and turn them back. Stink spirits, soot sprites, giant babies and flying dragons are among the film’s array of quirky, oddball creatures, while the gentle, lingering pace and intricate scenery are pure joy, guaranteed to leave all ages transfixed.
- Place: St Paul’s Cathedral, City of London
Having undergone several reincarnations since its inception (the original church on the site was established in AD 604), London’s famous cathedral still remains an iconic landmark, its famous dome as synonymous with the cityscape as Big Ben or The London Eye. Completed in 1708 and managing to survive The Blitz, St Paul’s stands like a beacon of hope and continuity in among the otherwise fast-paced financial district, aka The City. Its famous steps inspired the song Feed The Birds from the film Mary Poppins, while its historic library is like stepping into a scene from Game of Thrones. No visit is complete without exploring the Whispering Gallery, a walkway around the famous dome, which is known for its formidable acoustics (so strong, you can hear someone whispering at the other end). Their Carol Concert is a must for your Christmas calendar.