November’s Cog Night was a skate around the courtyard at Somerset House. Nazma and Lily share their thoughts.
This was my first visit to Somerset House and I felt the magnificence of the place upon entering the courtyard. We arrived a little early and got to watch the previous session’s skaters on the ice under the colourful lights. Bags dropped off at the cloakroom and shoes exchanged for skates, we watched as the rink was smoothed out for us and made fresh ready for its next set of skaters.
Then off we went! At different paces as we each warmed up to the ice and got into our glide. Often meeting each other around the sides as we stopped for a break. I found myself stopping pretty often, partly because I was tired, but also because I really enjoyed people-watching from the sidelines. I managed to avoid falling, but did have a close almost-slip at the barrier.
Unlike Nazma, I’d been ice skating at Somerset House before, albeit years ago as a student at The Courtauld. The past experience didn’t give me much of an advantage – I still fell over twice. In spite of that, I had a tremendous time. The 45 minutes on the rink absolutely flew by, and I’d have happily stayed on well past the allotted slot.
The atmosphere on the rink was wonderful. Everyone was laughing their way around, and didn’t seem to mind being bumped into on occasion.
I agree with Nazma that the experience could’ve been improved by a more consistent soundtrack. Just as I managed to hit my stride, the tempo would change and I’d lose confidence. That said, I can’t claim that the right playlist would’ve made me a pro-skater, and I’m truly grateful that we weren’t subjected to back-to-back Christmas hits.
The rink is sponsored by Switzerland Tourism, and the website boasts that visitors can expect “Specially curated sessions inspired by the Swiss regions of Bern, Lucerne and Valais”. I know very little about Swiss cantons, and I can’t pretend to know which one our session was inspired by. It was lovely though, and did have an alpine feel about it.
If skating isn’t your thing it’s still worth going along to watch. Somerset House’s neoclassical courtyard is spectacular, its magnificence added to by the beautifully lit ice rink and 40ft Christmas tree (decorated by Swiss International Air Lines).
Exiting the rink after our session, relieved that no bones had been broken or fingers had been severed, we headed out onto the Strand. Despite being November, the Christmas lights were up in their full glory. This definitely added to the festive spirit of the evening. We ducked into the Lyceum Tavern and settled into a cosy booth to laugh about our skating abilities over a pint.
I can highly recommend a trip to Skate at Somerset House. In fact, I’m already thinking of fitting in another visit before Christmas.