As Christmas approaches, ice rinks start to pop up all over the country, and novices like myself take to the slippery stuff, hoping to retaining as much dignity as possible when the inevitable fall occurs.
Tower of London was the famous landmark where my six friends and I decided to put on our skates for a catch up under a clear and starry sky.
Having only ever seen skating on the TV, I was wary of stepping on the ice for the first time and held onto the barriers like my life depended on it.
The trouble with ice is that it’s hard, and taking a tumble on it is going to hurt…
However, after watching the skate marshals prepare the surface for our session, it was time to take to the rink. At this point, I was shaking but wasn’t sure if it was a result of fear or the cold.
Not all my friends were as unfamiliar to gliding on blades as I was, with Connor and Emmanuel ready to give Olympic champions Torvill and Dean a run for their money.
Finding my feet
After taking baby steps on the ice, I realised that it is very similar to roller skating (which I am good at), and that using the same principles of one foot in front of the other whilst propelling yourself with the forward foot would prove successful.
Ice skating is like riding a bike for the first time – you need stabilisers (in this case, a friend’s arm) until you learn to keep your balance and then off you go.
Having found my feet, I was able to join my friends in circling the rink, weaving in and out of people to try and tag my each other in a game of “ad on ice”. (I highly recommend against anyone doing this)
We thought we had mastered the art until we watched a marshal skate at full speed towards a sleigh in the middle of the rink and leap over it landing back on his feet like a pro.
Growing in confidence
The rink rules state that everyone skates in the same direction, with novices on the outside and more experienced skaters in the middle, which allowed me to gain confidence in my abilities.
We enjoyed our first session on the ice so much, that we decided to stay for the next one, which was less crowded populated and allowed me to move into the middle of the rink and skate more freely.
Our confidence could have been mistaken for arrogance when one of my friends went crashing into a group of ladies, but everyone escaped unharmed whilst seeing the funny side of the accident.
Giving it a go
After an hour-and-a-half of enjoyable skating, your legs start to hurt and your body starts to freeze, but I would certainly go again. Ice Skating is an enjoyable experience and surprisingly easy to get the hang of.
As it’s a seasonal sport, I would recommend you find out where your nearest rink is and get your skates on.
TimeOut provides a list of the ice rinks in London. The one at the Tower returns annually, offering skating sessions day and night in historic surroundings.
The sessions last 45 minutes, which was more than enough time for me to get used to being on the ice. The first is at 11am and last 9pm.
Prices are £13.50 for adults and £9.50 for children and concessions, and tickets can be booked online to avoid long queues in the cold.
To warm yourself up after an embarrassing 45 minutes of trying (and failing) to look graceful, I recommend visiting The Dip Dunk Lodge, where hot food and drink that will warm you up can be purchased with a view of the rink.
Finally, if the ice wasn’t cool enough for you, you can visit the Eis Haus which is exactly what it sounds like – a house made of ice, where you can enjoy a drink in a lounge filled with crystal-clear ice sculptures.
Me? I was cold enough already…