My First Christmas Tree in Notting Hill
This time last I was decorating the family Christmas tree in an old sundress, bending and twisting the plastic branches to accommodate a bauble with a hideous picture of babyface Paige and now here I was wandering around the streets of London in puffy goose down jacket and gloves looking for my first real evergreen pine.
Christmas comes naturally to this part of the world and it starts at the end of November when tree gardens begin to pop up on ever street corner. My closest tree grocer was on Portobello Road, a stone’s throw away from Hugh’s blue door and the most popular pop up in my area.
Despite waking up at the crack of dawn, there was an endless line of couples in front of me and I quickly learned the standard practice of tree picking. Her job was to pick the perfect pine while he negotiated the price and then once she was happy and the deal was done he would whisk the prickly monster onto his shoulders and off they went.
I was the only one in the line that wasn’t part of a couple. In running tights, Nikes with hot pink laces and an appetite for Christmas cheer I was determined to get a tree from here and take it home with me.
The pine I had been eyeing off from the back of the line was suddenly scooped up by a man in a turtle neck with a posh London accent and a very thin girlfriend.
*Cough* Wanker! *Cough*
The man further appeased his girlfriend with a matching wreath that was more expensive than the tree itself.
Despite having a particularly unlucky weekend which kicked off with a violent toilet blockage that sent me on a wild goose chase for the right plunger while my housemate took a walk to the park and ran into a chocolate brown puppy that belonged to local park dweller David Beckham, it looked as though I was finally going to get lucky with my second choice.
Finally, it was my turn and the merchant looked a bit like a tree himself, tall, lanky and a little bit shady as he tried to steer me in the direction of a slightly more expensive product.
I politely declined his offer and walked over to my second choice, which was a little scruffy but ever so lovely.
The man chuckled when I told him that I was planning to carry a five foot pine tree from one side of Notting Hill to the other. Let’s be honest, taking into consideration the size of me, the size of the tree and the sheer amount of foot traffic it was a recipe for disaster or at least a hernia.
He knocked off the heavy log stand and replaced it with a lighter piece of timber before he pushed the tree through what looked like a cement barrel and in one swift movement out came my tree cocooned in a delicate net.
He handed the tree down to me with ease and as soon as I had the beauty on my shoulders my knees bucked.
I walked the length of Portobello road with a severely constipated look on my face, leaving a trail of pine needles in my wake.
I stopped every couple of minutes to pretend to call my Hercules-look-alike-lover so that he could run down the road and take over.
“Hey bae I’m just on the corner of breaking my back and fucking exhausted.”
Thankfully my tree still looked relatively serene and perfect…
After 20 debilitating minutes and several breaks I made it to the bottom on my stoop and just when I thought there was no way that I could lift my tree up several flights of stairs, I had a Christmas epiphany.
Paige, you quit your job this year, graduated university, moved to the other side of the world and landed on your feet in a place made famous by a Hollywood movie. You haven’t yet achieved your goal of getting into a private garden but there’s still time. All in all you’re doing pretty bloody alright. This tree is your final hurdle, then you can kick up your feet and drink some eggnog – whatever the hell that is.
My internal monologue was right. If I had the strength within me to completely change my life I had the strength in my butt to squat down and hoist this baby up onto my shoulders and get it safely into my apartment.
And it worked!
Unlike the perfect plastic tree that had been in my family for a century, the real branches of my very first evergreen pine were surprisingly soft and velvety and as I took a step back to admire it in all it’s glory, the journey I had embarked on this year finally felt complete.
Big love and Merry Christmas everyone