The UFOs of Primrose Hill (Happy 2011!)

Sorry about the poor quality; I only had my Blackberry. Still, you can see a bunch of our UFOs, rising away from Primrose Hill toward central London. And down on the horizon, among other things, you can see the Eye of London.

J and I had this brilliant idea. We would avoid the madness of Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve, but still experience it, quietly and privately, by walking up to Primrose Hill, which we had heard afforded a great view of London.

So, after a wonderful meal at a fine Indian restaurant near our hotel in Swiss Cottage, we set out walking. I had assured her I could find the park from having glanced at Google Maps, and I hoped I was right.

Along the way, we saw some young guys on the sidewalk outside a house where a party was going on, and they seemed to be trying to make an upside-down luminaria take off like a hot-air balloon using a cigarette lighter. They were laughing like mad, and the people inside the party were watching out the bay window with great interest, and we just assumed they were half-cut, or more. As we walked past I did say, “Well, the principle is sound…”

Then, as I we walked on and I started to wonder whether I had lost my way after all, we noticed down south, over the city, some reddish lights hovering in the sky. They looked very strange. The way they acted, they couldn’t be aircraft. My guess was that someone had fired parachute flares, but they were so high that seemed unlikely.

As I was about to despair of finding Primrose Hill Road, I saw a fairly busy road ahead of us… and lots of people walking along it. Since they were walking in the direction of a church, my wife came up with a Catholic answer — they were going to a midnight Mass. But that’s not where they were going. We found ourselves part of a pilgrimage of perhaps a couple of thousand, all of whom had had the same idea — climb Primrose Hill to watch the fireworks down around Trafalgar.

There were all sorts. Most seemed 20ish, and most had bottles. But there were older folks, and parents with small kids. Most were English, but I heard German and Spanish nearby.

Everyone had a blast, and it was fun to be among them. But the most remarkable thing was that, from here and there in the crowd, these big bags with little fiery things dangling from them kept drifting up. At one time, about 25 of these UFOs could be seen, drifting high toward the Thames. It was wonderful to watch (and so quiet, by comparison to fireworks).

Then came a ragged, spontaneous countdown, and bam! The fireworks went off over Trafalgar, to the delight of all.

It was wonderful. The weather was cool and damp, but not uncomfortably cold (just as it’s been since we’ve been here, which I love — I would have been so disappointed had it been sunny).

So that’s what we did for New Year’s. What did you do? Oh, wait — you haven’t done it yet. Well, whenever midnight does reach you, have a wonderful time, and be safe and careful.

And have a wonderful 2011. I plan to.

Then came the

4 thoughts on “The UFOs of Primrose Hill (Happy 2011!)

  1. tired old man

    We made those UFOs back in college. You take a clear dry-cleaning, remove the paper covers from two coat hangers that had held pants, take those paper coatings, turn them at right angles to each other, and then attach the four corners to the bottom of the spread-out dry cleaning bag. A small tea candle is mounted where the paper coatings cross each other and then lit. Just like a hot air balloon, the bag inflates as the candle burns. I left out where you tape the top of the dry cleaning bag shut.

    Then you hold the bag and it slowly drifts up and away. It is a potential major fire hazard but nevertheless a lot of fun.

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