Bell from Bow loves the city over the festive period

When Halloween and Bonfire Night are over, then it’s OK to mention the C word. Where are you spending it, what are you eating, does Father Christmas still exist in your house, and how do we stop the cat attacking the tree?

My childhood Christmases were spent in my parents’ rural house, with long muddy walks before lunch to knacker out the dog and get some calories in the bank. We’ll be doing the same this year, hoping to knacker out two pre-schoolers, and ensure they doze in front of the telly in the afternoon, surely a Christmas highlight all round. But we will be doing it in London.

I won’t hear a thing against Christmas in the city. London is at its best over bank holidays, half-terms but especially at Christmas. The city empties out. Normally bulging Tube trains have seats available. Jam-packed bars turn into places where you don’t queue to get a drink and you can nab the table by the fire.

My toddlers get first dibs on the swings in Victoria Park. The roads are quieter. The stress levels can’t help but drop, and the Christmas cheer excites the toddlers and gives tired parents an excuse for a drink and a mince pie in the pub.

London is exciting when it’s full and bustling, but it’s so much easier to navigate, particularly when armed with a scooter or a balance bike, when there are less people around.

And it’s a chance to invite relatives to stay, show them Wanstead Flats glittering with frost, and walk the canals with your breath forming clouds.

And then to be first in line for the sales and to enjoy the empty theatres. It’s a gift that comes just once a year – a quiet London. Merry Christmas.

Celine blogs on parenting, East London and everything in between at

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