A heartfelt end to our series of reviews from Panicos – our Epic Winter competition winner. He and his wife visited Somerset House Ice Rink for a spot of post-Christmas exercise. And by the sounds of it, the place holds a special spot in their hearts…
Somerset House will always hold a special place in my heart. The first time I skated there was almost exactly eleven years ago, in December 2003.
I turned up expecting to meet a group of fellow students from the neighbouring King’s College London. However, everybody else suddenly had essays to finish; domestic emergencies or mystery ailments. I was, it seemed, destined to skate alone.
But there she was.
“She” was a beautiful girl from my course, who I had spoken to just a few times since meeting her that October and who was the only other person to have turned up.
I’ll never know whether or not the rest of the gang had conspired to set us up. What I do know that I either owe them – or Serendipity herself – a debt of gratitude since we had a great night and when I returned on New Year’s Eve 2014, the same beautiful girl was with me and – best of all – we had the same surname on our tickets!
The rink and its surrounds were – as they are every year – breathtakingly beautiful. A large and richly decorated tree stood tall just beyond the main entrance. The ice itself – bathed in hues of blue; pink and purple with huge projected snowflakes glittering across its surface – looked magical.
Rental boots are included in the ticket price and handed out from a marquee-style area that runs along one side of the rink. Lines of children stood with faces pressed to the windows and doors, eagerly awaiting their slot on the ice.
The session before ours ended and the skaters made way for a chap driving a ride-on resurfacing vehicle around the ice while the multi-coloured lights, music and snowflake projections continued. I half-expected Ant and Dec to appear and introduce the “celebrity” driver before handing over to a panel of judges!
Soon enough, it was time to hit the ice (literally, in some unfortunate cases). The skaters organized themselves into the usual concentric circles, from the nervous rail-huggers hauling themselves bodily around the outside track, to the more experienced skaters honing their skills in the more central areas.
Looping around in an anti-clockwise direction, it was as if we were all engaged in some futile attempt to push back the hands of time and forestall the end of 2014. Alas, the forty minutes slipped past quickly and our time was soon up.
Our final circuit of the ice was accompanied by the dulcet tones of Ol’ Blue Eyes himself who took us straight back to 2003 with these words:
“Strangers in the night…little did we know…love was just a glance away, a warm embracing dance away…and ever since that night, we’ve been together.”
Thank you Ticketmaster for our Epic Winter and for giving us the chance to see out 2014 in such a magical way!
Skate at Somerset House tickets are available here. It’s open until 11 January, so don’t miss out!