I’ve always enjoyed this time of year – a great opportunity for family bonding, good wishes, watching lots of films, stuffing my face silly and, now that Monkey is old enough to enjoy it all, I’m pleased to say that the Christmas magic is in full force in our household. So, the festive season wouldn’t be complete without a trip to meet Santa Claus.
We were lucky enough to get treated to tickets to the Grotto at world-famous department store Harrods, Knightsbridge. I’d heard that they sold out in a matter of hours but my aunt, who works on the window displays, managed to secure us some along with afternoon tea thrown in, too.
We didn’t actually tell Monkey where we were going until the morning of our trip. And, I think I was just as excited about going as he was! He waited very patiently for the train to come, while the underground didn’t phase him in the slightest. Even the walk through Green Park and Hyde Park Corner was lovely, on a crisp, winter’s day.
Once we arrived at Harrods itself, we were all blown away by the amazing Christmas displays from flying reindeer to falling snowflakes as the store celebrates Christmas with The Land of Make Believe. The security guard at the door was also lovely, stopping to talk to Monkey and call up to ‘Santa’ to tell him we’d arrived.
The entrance to the Grotto is right by the Disney store. We didn’t stand a chance as far as Olaf was concerned. Monkey had a tight grip of him and begged us to buy him. I couldn’t resist his pleas.
On entering the mystical wonderland, we were given Harrods hats and told we couldn’t use our camera inside – because you have to buy the professional ones they take. But, of course, I ignored them for the most part! Particularly when we had to get into the Harrods Sledge…
All the staff were very sweet to Monkey and they really played along with the mystical aura of Santa and the elves – although I’ve never seen elves in Harrods uniforms before! One ‘elf’ took Monkey by the hand and led him down a long corridor filled with five wooden doors to the one at the end, where he had to knock on. He was a little shy at first, but he soon started talking to Santa, who I have to say, was absolutely authentic in every way. From the kind eyes, to the jolly voice – even I believed him at one point. Monkey was elated to be told he was put down on the ‘good’ list and to be given a little bag with a huge chocolate coin and a Christmas book.
But before we knew it, our time with Santa was up and we were ushered out quickly and handed a ticket for our photographs. I relented and brought one after waiting a ridiculously long time in a queue.
However, my annoyance dissipated as soon as we arrived in The Georgian Restaurant, ready for our afternoon tea. It was delicious and a real treat – Monkey even got his own stand full of naughty goodies. I loved the little sandwiches and, after stuffing my face full them, I barely had room for the cakes.
Yes, the tickets weren’t cheap and we ended spending more on the photographs, but there’s something lovely about being in the centre of London during Christmas. Seeing the Christmas lights above the streets, the Christmassy window displays, and shoppers who are buying for their loved ones.
Harrods itself is such a London institution and, even though they are there to make money, it didn’t detract from the fact that Monkey believed he’d met Santa, or that he’d drunk the best darn chocolate milkshake ever. Magic moments and ones that we will cherish for ever.