Yeah, with hindsight it’s obvious: what did you expect from an Ice Sculpting Festival? But it was perishing cold on Saturday; cold enough to force us inside between exhibits.
And parts of Canary Wharf (where the festival took place) channelled the wind making it feel colder still.
Non-Brits may laugh at our lack of tolerance for temperatures barely down to zero degrees Celsius, but remember that because we don’t get temperatures and weather like this in London very often we’re ill-prepared for it. Even on the coldest days you’ll see Londoners shivering in their suits, that cotton scarf they put on “just in case” singularly failing to protect them.
Saturday, we wrapped up pretty warm, but nowhere near warm enough. Amber burst into tears at one point because she was so cold. Even I wasn’t prepared to wait outside for an hour for the display of 300 paper boats with lights in them – and a display of 300 paper boats with interior lighting is normally right up my street.
The bizarre arrangements for viewing the ice sculptures (which were very – ahem – cool) didn’t help either. You had to queue to get on and off the man-made island where it all took place. It was quite a big island and the bridge to it wasn’t small either, but for some reason they only let people cross the bridge one way at a time. So, we queued for about 15 minutes to get on the island and about ten minutes to get off.
Stood still. In a queue. In the freezing wind.
I had to carry Amber Amber inside my open coat and cardigan to stop her freezing. Still, I’m sure it was for the best – imagine the chaos and desperation of people going two ways simultaneously across a bridge. Yeah, doesn’t bear thinking about, right?
After we finally set foot on the island we had a nice time, but the chill was in our bones. We got so cold that Auntie Kristine decided, in desperation, to get a cup of mulled wine to warm her hands up (she doesn’t like mulled wine), only to be told it would take 15 minutes to warm up. Really? 15 minutes? You didn’t have any you’d prepared earlier? Sigh.
When the bridge finally opened for us to cross back we almost charged across and into the warmth and sanctuary of Canary Wharf Shopping Centre, which is a bit like Bluewater except that it was built for humans to enjoy. The last straw for Amber and Millie’s came when we joined the end of the queue for face-painting – which Amber had been looking forward to all afternoon.
Unfortunately, it really was the end of the queue. The lady in front of us was to be the last lucky punter of the day.
We went home.