Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A quick tour...

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.



More galleries......




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)

"meats"




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)




 

primping for the evening. (the weather was balmy enough for just a trench on some nights)



Trafalgar square on New Year's day, with the Olympics count down clock.



Party's over, time to go......

home.



 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.......

Pubs:
Cadogan Arms, Chelsea
Princess of Prussia, Aldgate, London
Charles Dickens
Windsor Castle, Kensington


Restaurants:
Bar Boulud
8 Bells, Chipping Campden
Champions
Les Portes des Indes
Patara Thai




17 comments:

Briel79 said...

Looks like you had a fun, well-deserved vacation! I visited London for the first time a year and a half ago. I really enjoyed my week there, especially the lovely parks. The weather was so nice when I was there and I did a ton of walking and seeing the sights!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Looks like a fabulous trip! the menu has me drooling over here...

Karena said...

Megan I cannot tell you how much I love the photos. From the Birthday Party to London (which I love)!

You look great and very happy, a very chic traveler!

xoxo
Karena

Art by Karena

benson said...

Isn't it fun to be in another country for the holidays? we both have great husbands--mine surprised me with Paris and Provence.
ps. in Paris, dogs can poop anywhere without a fine.
pss. I wore Mephisto all weather boots--a bit boring up to yours but I needed to walk for miles. You totally rock in the shoe department.

cecilia said...

Megan, I loved your photos! It's been 10 years since I've been to London, and my best friend just moved back to the States, so my motivation was lacking until I got a glimpse through your trip. The pre-Christmas hectic-ness had my heart racing. My son's bday is in December (and my husband's this weekend) so I got it. If I didn't love receiving Christmas cards so much, I'd gladly give up that task - I usually enjoy writing my notes and getting those out but this year was a major chore! You covered so much ground in London! What a great gift from your husband!

Gwen Driscoll said...

So much fun!!! My Dec. too is insane w/ holiday + birthday twister! It's always nutty & my best yrs have been when we've gone on trips & let some of the trivial holiday stuff go. Happy New Year!

annechovie said...

I loved your tour, Megan. It's all about living vicariously and it's been far too long since I was back in London. Your mention of Partridges brought back great memories as I shopped there almost daily for breakfast items, etc. when I stayed off of Sloane Square. You guys looked fabulous, too. Thanks for sharing and happy new year! xo

Susan Windsor Jones said...

Megan,
Happy Birthday!
I'm saving this post in my travel file for my next London visit.
We loved La Porte des Indes too. Best Indian food ever.
Thanks for all the great London advice...though I'm a bit disappointed in Windsor Castle.

beachcitylifestyle said...

Hi Megan-
Now you have me inspired to do that next Christmas. Was it a good time of year to go? I've never been to London so I will take all your suggestions.

beachcitylifestyle said...

Hi Megan-
Now you have me inspired to do that next Christmas. Was it a good time of year to go? I've never been to London so I will take all your suggestions.

The Glamorous Housewife said...

How exciting! I havent' been to London in forever. I wanted to take all 3 kids this summer, but it is the Olympics, so we are going to Florence instead.

Thanks doll,
The Glamorous Housewife

chibiwow said...

Fun! Glad to see you guys enjoyed the trip. Those dishes really makes my tummy grumble, really.
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AlwaysMe said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I love London and love to live vicariously through others. Looks like you had a lovely time.

oOoOO said...

\\ time of your life kid!

Jennings and Gates said...

The white trench and gold bag were PERFECT choices! You looked fabulous and comfortable. So glad you had a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing the places you liked.

Brighton Fit Out said...

I absolutely LOVE London at Christmas, you're so lucky! And that sparkly shoe - oh my god, died and gone to heaven, probably way out of my price range, but a girl can dream! Love the photos!
Jen x

Victoria said...

What a fabulous trip. Great to hear how much you enjoyed my home town.

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