I’ve always found Easter to be one of loveliest moments in the year – daffodils and cherry blossoms are in full bloom, the birds are singing, mostly we’re not wrapped in layers of thermals and earmuffs any longer… you get the picture, it’s Spring! As a child, I remember the egg hunts our mother used to organise in the garden for my brother and I. She also used to decorate the house with little chicks and painted eggs we would have made at school or with her. Fond memories… Of course, and as often with these celebrations, moving to England has been like entering a new dimension, as the Brits’ OTT attitude to festivals shines again:
First of all, it’s a 4-day week-end. In France, we work on Good Friday so the Easter week-end is not bigger than any other bank holiday week-end.
Secondly, a bit like Christmas starts in September here, Easter starts in January. If you think this is an exaggeration, this is a picture I took in our local Sainsbury’s on January 3rd! It definitely made me question whether I had fully recovered from our New Year’s Eve party!
Thirdly, because it’s a four-day week-end, it comes with a host of activities to cram into your free time, as well as a month-long build up for those of a rather impatient nature. Highlights for 2012 include:
– The Big Egg Hunt: Over 200 unique two-and-a-half-foot decorated eggs created by leading artists are hidden in central London for the general public to find. It started mid-February and will be closing this week-end, with all the eggs first displayed in Covent Garden (The Grand Eggstravaganza), then auctioned off on Monday at 6pm. Aside from trying to raise about £2 million for charities Elephant Family and Action for Children, the hunt was also an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most participants in an Easter Egg Hunt. Having missed out on the actual hunt altogether, I am quite tempted to pop in Covent Garden!
– The Boat Race: No need to specify which one, it seems there’s only one and this year it takes place on Easter Saturday at 2.15pm, starting at Putney Bridge as has been the case almost every year since 1845. Oxford lead in terms of win and Ladbrokes has them as favourites again this year. They also have “Either crew to sink” at 16/1 although I wouldn’t bank on that as the last boat to sink was Cambridge in 1978. Anyway, I’ve been before and it’s a fun day out. For one, seeing all these (mostly) guys, pint of beer in one hand, team scarf in the other, getting excited watching 18 guys from the two most prestigious British universities paddling away like there is no tomorrow is one of those quintessentially British spectacles you can’t miss (well, it only lasts about 20 minutes so you might miss it if you’re not on time). Might go again this year if the weather is nice as my mother is visiting us for the week-end.
– Your usual key London attractions will also focus on Easter, with the London Eye organising Easter-themed family-friendly craft workshops over the week-end, and Kew Gardens sending you off on a Maya Chocolate Adventure as well as their annual kids’ egg hunt.
– I’ve also found traces of other egg hunts (Sutton House, Ham House, Battersea Park Zoo…), a bizarre Hot Cross Bun Ceremony at the Widow’s Son pub in Bromley-by-Bow in east London, Church services (I wonder how many people know that these days) and the little-known London Harness Horse Parade near Crawley.
Right, now I’m off to buy Easter eggs for Darling-Chéri, my mother and myself. After 6 weeks without the stuff, I might just make myself sick on Saturday – hot chocolate and Nutella for breakfast, ham & chocolate sandwich at lunchtime, a chocolate brownie in the afternoon, steak-frites with chocolate sauce (who needs ketchup?) and a chocolate fondant for dinner. Hmmm, sounds good!