And here we find ourselves at Christmas again. It is as though we blinked, and the season of goodwill was upon us. It felt too soon. The year’s slog is fading away, and we have started our preparations for the season of blessing and rest.

Over the last week or so I have noticed all manner of Christmas stalls going up around the iconic sites in London. There are outlets with German sausage and stollen, Christmas trees and fake snow. Red and green elves are everywhere, and the old familiar sounds of ‘Little drummer boy’ and ‘Jingle bells’ come floating through the air. The end-of-year tourists have started to arrive in their thousands, adding to the general feel of the season.

And we ourselves have not been idle:

  • We went on a horse carriage ride, pulled along in a brake by two Shire horses, Nobby and Heath, through Richmond Park.
  • We wandered through the annual Winter Wonder Walk in our village, complete with a turkey race and two very soft reindeer.
  • We attended a concert of Beethoven’s Ninth with a little orchestra, featuring the South African bass-baritone Simon Shibambu.
  • We also attended a Carol Service with the Queen’s Household Division in the Guards Chapel in Westminster, which is somewhat different from our usual visit with the Christmas Carol Service of the South African Church.
  • We also met up with old friends and acquaintances at these different events, reflecting on times past, giving thanks and making plans for future events.

Like most people, we have planned a break, with firstly a trip to Norfolk and then to the town of William Shakespeare himself, Stratford-upon-Avon, for the two days over Christmas.

This Christmas, like most of those over the past decade, we will spend immersing ourselves in the culture of our adopted country and partake of all that old Blighty has to offer. And we will celebrate the freedom offered us in the birth of our dear Saviour.

Have a blessed Christmas and a great new year.

Anton and Ronèl van Zyl

This post is also available in: Afrikaans

Ronel van Zyl
Ronel van Zyl
Sharing life

I am a British South African living in London and sharing my passion for London, Great Britain, my country of birth South Africa, events and my travels. I am a freelance photographer and can always be found with my camera. I believe a photo can tell a story so much better. I love capturing the moment.

Visit Ronel’s blog at

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