I got off the first bus just before Waterloo Station because I'd been on the Time Out London website and read about the Cologne Christmas Market on London's Southbank, and so I wanted to check it out. The website suggests that there are about 60 stalls but perhaps that's only on weekends - tonight there were only about half that amount but it was still really lovely. Not having been to Christmas Market in Germany (save for the Chicago version that also purported to be authentic), I am not sure if this Cologne Christmas Market was like the real thing. But it seemed to have all the ingredients: carols were playing, mulled wine was...mulling?, and English guys with German accents were selling bratwurst in buns nowhere near big enough to accommodate them. All this on the banks of the Thames, complete with sub-zero wind chill.
I bought a couple of Christmas presents and cards for friends & family, plus a mulled wine and bratwurst for myself (it must have been the faux accents what done it). I walked up and down with my refreshments, perusing the various stalls and bemoaning the fact that trying to send some of those gifts home would be a risky - and costly - nightmare. One stall had some great wooden puzzles but I didn't think Australian Customs would take too well to those (they might be OK if you declare it, but I figure why chance it?).
I left the Cologne Market just as it was getting crowded, and I swapped that crowd for the commuter rush in Waterloo Station. Always a soul-destroying exercise.
They tell me that public transport in London completely shuts down on Christmas Day. I suppose that's quite fitting - the one day of the year when we're supposed to be nice to each other, life won't even give us the opportunity to shove someone out the way.