A few weeks before the Holiday Madness was to begin, Nick came to me and said, 'Guess what? I just booked a trip for us to London! And we're leaving on Christmas Day!!' In my head I'm going through the list of things that hadn't been done, gifts that hadn't been purchased and sent, the photo for the card needed to be taken, the ordering of the card, the addressing of the cards.... ornaments that hadn't been pulled from storage, the tree needed to be delivered, what are we doing for Christmas Eve dinner? The girls are out of school and home for two weeks - which means, 2 people standing around staring at me while I attempt to work saying, "Julie McCoy I mean, mom, we're bored" ....... and oh, that dinner party for 22 that I needed to pull together in celebration of his birthday. December is major. Leaving on a major trip at this time is kinda huge.
Do I sound like an ingrate? I don't mean to. Honestly, I was thrilled, and am always so grateful that I've married someone with wanderlust and a generous spirit. But the stress of creating The Perfect Christmas/Birthday for everyone was weighing heavily on me. Throwing a major trip on top of the pile, had me a little freaked. When would I have time to research everything we needed to do, see and experience? I mean, you can't just, 'play it by ear' when you go on a trip like this. You'll miss someone's tomb or the Magna Carta. You need to have an itinerary.
As it turned out, Birthday party was a success ( thanks to a local restaurant ) cards got mailed out, gifts were purchased and sent, tree was put up and decorated.....in the end, Birthday/Christmas happened. So as I bade farewell to my little birds for the week ( who were heading to some relatives in the Mid West ) I pulled out my luggage and packed the best I could, including a couple of books on London that I was hoping to read on the flight. I had also consulted one of my best resources for travel, my friend Karen. She totally gets what I like from food to galleries. And her recommendations are always exactly spot on.
The birthday party that happened, 10 days before Christmas (holiday birthdays are tough business. Vying for importance against that, other birthday, is not easy )
So here is a brief (sort of) photo tour of our week...
The view from our hotel, The Cadogan, in Knightsbridge. Loved the location, loved the people who worked there, super comfy rooms.
Not a day went by that we didn't hit a gallery
The Main Hall in the Natural History Museum ( taken with ye olde iPhone )
The great hall o' minerals. I wasn't much interested in the minerals but the room was pretty incredible.
frozen face in front of the Carousel and ice rink (these people love their ice rinks at Christmas time)
Street art near the Tate Modern.
The Tate Modern building, in itself, is worth a visit. It's housed in what used to be the Bankside Power Station. You can read more about it here photo credit from here
And to the Saatchi Gallery...
The floors and the light at the Saatchi gallery were beautiful. The whole building (an old Military School ) is so well done.
Gorgeous, moving and provocative works.
The above paintings were huge. And detailed and beautiful. I can't find the artist's name but when I do, I'll add it. I assumed that I could look it up on their website when I got home, but have had no luck.
I thought the Saatchi gallery was great for its architecture and art, but some of the art, just seemed a bit questionable. Here's a mirror, that quivers, activated by a motion detector. Art?
hmmmm. I don't get it.
And of course the Tower of London had to be done, if only to look at the wall etchings left by the captive prisoners imprisoned in the towers or the oldest, authentic 'Tudor' houses in existence. So cool.
A tourist's gotta have her map.
Stepping out in my new DVFs that I picked up at The Community Collection.
The last time I was in London (in the 90s) the food, was not memorable. Karen mentioned that I needed to investigate the whole 'Gastropub' movement. And boy did we.
Our first pub was the Cadogan Arms in Chelsea. The food was served on a plank and we dined on perfectly cooked sirloin and ale. The place itself has a 'hunter's lodge' vibe to it. That began our tour into pub live. We started asking waiters where their favorite pub was. Not the touristy type, but where they went on their day off. We crisscrossed the city eating at dark little pubs with their uniform, black lacquered fronts. Shepard's Pie? bring it. Beef Ale pie? alrighty Blood Pudding? mkay. Jingle Knockers? whatever you say.
pheasant pie and mash. rich.
mmmmmm. Fish + Chips and some sort of meat pie.
I'd be huge if I lived in London.
Mind yer head, mate. This became our favorite pub. It's in Kensington. It's a rabbit warren of little rooms with even smaller doors one has to climb through in order to pass to the next.
|photo courtesy of their website.|
We didn't just hang out in pubs the whole time, we also managed to spend a fair amount of time on the Fine Dining genre of restaurants (which i'll list at the end)
Rowley's on Jermyn Street. A nice little place to have a quiet lunch.
(above ) Probably the best Indian Food I've ever had. And the place itself had some of the best people watching, ever.
I did not eat here, but felt it would have been appropriate given the gout-tour we were on.
Off to the Cotswolds for the day (not long enough)
I fell in love with this area of England, many years ago, and coming back here always makes my heart sing. It's great because it hasn't changed in a few thousand years, so you always know what to expect.
The requisite visit to, Shakespeare's boyhood home.
Shopping? why yes we did. And lots of window shopping as well...
The Giuseppe Zanotti shop window on Sloane St.
I was a little disappointed to see the Forever21 lined up next to, Urban Outfitter, American Apparel, Gap, and Anthro. I was hoping their Anthro would be different. But it wasn't. I could have been in El Segundo plaza just south of LAX - not Chelsea. They did have wallpaper in stock, which ours does not. bonus.
The Trisha Guild windows, on King's Road, were so pretty.
This was just a Frieze on the outside of Turnbull + Asser. Nick thought the photo looked like 'baby head salad' at first glance. It's not.
It's all in the way you say it. (btw, that's a steep penalty)
Alexander McQueen shop windows. Bodice made of china.
Partridges, on King's Road, had a whole shelf of 'bonbons' packaged in the most beautifully boxes. I drag Nick into every Grocery Store, when we're out of the country. I find it fascinating to see what they have that we don't. Ditto on the pharmacies. (we must have hit Boots, 10 times for various needs)
Trafalgar square on New Year's day, with the Olympics count down clock.
Party's over, time to go......
Good bye fog, hello smog. ( thank god I live at the beach, makes coming home from the trip of a lifetime, a little easier on the landing side )
Oh! the places we went. A few of our favorites.......
Cadogan Arms, Chelsea
Princess of Prussia, Aldgate, London
Windsor Castle, Kensington
8 Bells, Chipping Campden
Les Portes des Indes