Weirdly enough there's two articles in today's papers about how Britain is "in the grip" of an ice skating craze.
In the Independent Jonathan Brown and Lucy Phillips are reporting on the "ice phenomenon" by conjuring up images from literary masterpieces such as Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, ("the author uses the love-struck Levin's prowess as a skater as a metaphor for passion as he vainly attempts to woo Kitty at Moscow's Zoological Gardens,") and Tom's Midnight Garden ("the hero escapes the drab loneliness of his boyhood, skating down an enchanted River Ouse with his companion, the unhappy orphan Hatty").
Then it's back to the real world where apparently everyone and his dog is freezing their courtyards over in order to cash in on the skating bug:
In London, the Natural History Museum became the latest national institution to join the craze. Madonna's daughter, Lourdes, MTV presenter Donna Air and cellist Julian Lloyd Webber were among the celebrities who took to the ice amid the Victorian splendour of the museum's gardens last week.
Well if Julian Lloyd Webber's at it then count us in!
For the older age groups there's also the benefit of shifting a few pounds in a "new and interesting way" and apparently Alexandra Palace has gone after the grey pound by offering special classes for the 50-60 year olds (although we're guessing a waiver against broken hips etc has to be signed before anyone even so much as glimpes any ice).
The Independent article also includes the inevitable bit about how the Thames used to freeze and people used to hold parties on it etc etc.
The Guardian's article is a little briefer but they also mention the huge number of open-air rinks which are cropping up right now:
Last week rinks opened for the first time at the Natural History Museum and the Tower of London. This week Somerset House, a veteran on the scene, Kew Gardens, and the Manchester United stadium open. Next week brings the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich, Hampstead Heath, Windsor, and Hampton Court Palace.
Apparently Somerset House is "the most glamorous [and] will have a real ice climbing wall this time," which is useful to know as Londonist is heading down there tonight (not that we're ones to jump on the latest bandwagon you understand...ok, we admit it, there are free drinks on offer).
We'll hopefully take some pictures and report back tomorrow on the experience (if we can still walk). In the meantime if you have a particular ice skating venue you'd like to 'big up' the comments section is at your mercy.