About the same time as the Christmas music starts blaring forth, a lot of us are struck with the uncharacteristic urge to do ‘winter’ pursuits. The most prominent of these urges (seemingly to all age groups) is the one to pop a pair of blades on your feet and to scoot across some ice aka going ice-skating.
A study by Federico Formenti of Oxford University suggested that ice skating started in Finland more than 3,000 years ago, and since then its become an art form as well as a festive institution.
London has a lot of rinks that appear every year; some surrounded by lovely old buildings such as the ones by the Natural History Museum and Somerset House as well as some more commercial rinks like the one in Winter Wonderland.
What all these rinks have in common is that they get booked up well in advance and are always super busy. Strangely outside of the winter people aren’t even half as interested in skating and if you pop to your local centre they may be about 10 of you braving the ice.
This year in the spirit of romance, Matt and I booked to go to Somerset House (he booked about 2 months in advance). Upon arrival we were issued your standard rock solid boots and we set off on our way ready to glide around the..WAIT A SECOND how many people had they let on the ice?!
There is a fine balance between making a nice profit and creating a health hazard. Unfortunately this was a calculation that was misjudged on this occasion. There were a lot of folks on the ice, so you spent your time between plodding behind the nervous, dodging those about to fall and trying not to crash; quite stressful.
The location and concept were beautiful and it’s such a romantic idea, however to make sure you have a great experience:
- Go off peak – during the day before the kids have broken up from school. It is also cheaper off peak
- Wear thick socks – the skates are always bony as hell
- I hate to say this but, take a selfie stick – if you want a nice photo you’ll need to, as if you give your phone to a non-skater they could be long gone before you’ve even got off the ice
Essentially remember skating is for all year round not just for Christmas!