It’s time for the Weekend Meander with Juliet and Elizabeth and all that we are loving right now… This week I am sharing the London leg of my trip, the boots I wore so much, the Chanel show at the V&A, and a great book for a trip to the UK, and a few things I bought.
Hello lovely friends. I am back home. We arrived home Tuesday just late enough to miss all the trick-or treaters in my street! I was sad, but glad to be out of the Uber and back in my own bed.
Thanks to everyone who followed along on my Instagram and shared their own tips with me on the blog too. I posted pictures every night and it helped doing that at the end of the day, so it would be easier to share here.
If I waited until I was back, all the photos would be overwhelming. I grouped them by region in my ‘Story Highlights’ on my Instagram bio page, of pics and places. I love sharing little finds and the best part of travel is finding new spots and little hole in the wall places.
It feels like we’ve been gone a month, but it was eleven days and we packed a lot in.
So I don’t lose my mind, I’m going to share the trip in chunks on the weekend posts and then pull them all into one to refer back to later. This week I’ll share London where we spent three days at the start of the trip.
A few photos of the city…
Favorite Things in London
Dinner out the first night was with our dear friend Emily who used to work with Max. Emily planned dinner at this delicious and very fun Italian restaurant, Circlolo Populare and we got to meet her beau Sam who was charming too. This is Fitzrovia and was about a ten minute walk for us..
We also love the buzzy atmosphere of Bocca Di Lupo near the Haymarket in Soho. This Italian spot is so cozy if you eat at the bar. Wonderful home made pastas. Right across the street is their own gelato spot, Gelupo, which is divine and has the freshest gelato. I love the pistachio! Max got pecan. Go early for the gelato, it gets busy even on a rainy night.
Note: people in the UK are good about making reservations, so make plans ahead or you will be out of luck. Even in the pubs, it’s hard to wander in and grab a table. We learned that the second night.
I have a membership to the V&A (The Victoria & Albert Museum), so I wanted to see the Chanel exhibit. I love the V&A and the last time in 2019, I was lucky to see the Dior and Mary Quant shows. There is always something wonderful going on and it is the museum for beautiful things and decorative arts.
If you want to see the Chanel show which goes until February, and missed getting tickets, you can join for around $100 and get a year membership that includes a friend’s entrance too. The V&A gift shop is fabulous and full of holiday cards, calendars, and pretty things. The floral totes are the coolest gifts and wonderful to use. I also love the scarves and jewelry and bought a wool bead necklace.
The Chanel show was extensive and had clothes from the 1920’s to Chanel’s last show in 1971. The accessories jewelry, and fragrances were also a part of it.
I didn’t know that Chanel was the first to really embrace costume jewelry. She was ahead of everyone in creating comfortable clothes for women and modern day sportswear. Her clothes all still look current today. ( I love that the Chanel style jacket is back.) Black for everyday clothes was not a thing before Chanel, who gravitated to creams and black, and the occasional royal blue and red.
Much has been made of Chanel’s possible involvement with a German attache during WWII, but her biographer, Justine Picardie, recently updated her biography of Chanel with more details in anticipation of this exhibition. Chanel’s WWII resistance cards were in this exhibit along with letters to Churchill. Chanel’s Riviera villa was used to transmit messages for the Allies and hide Jewish refugees escaping across the French border and she was part of a secret group that provided intelligence during the war. More details here in Justine’s article for UK Bazaar.
Loved this wall of suits! I dream of owning a vintage Chanel jacket. Some of these, were loaned..The pink on the bottom left, was once owned by Lauren Bacall. You can also see the DIVA exhibit going on and there many more galleries of gorgeous things like cameos, hats, furniture, photography, and the list goes on and on… It would take years to see it all!
Max loves Roman history so we spent a morning at The British Museum viewing the iron age hoards and other incredible treasures that have been unearthed the UK! I found it fascinating most are from Britain and are being continually discovered.
Many like the Sutton Hoo have been found by people in their yards and by metal detector hobbyists. It is such a common phenomenon, there are strict rules in the UK about who can keep what is found and that a museum must be given the chance to buy it. If I lived there, I’d be digging around my yard! ( By the way, most museums are free in the UK, but special exhibits may have an extra cost or special tickets.)
Below, incredible gold neck pieces, called torgs, and silver pieces that have been dug up. Some, like the silver tray, found washed up by a child on the riverbank in the 1700’s. Some were buried for safe keeping in periods of unrest, and other may have been rituals.. The British Museum also has a clock room that is my favorite..and just a huge amount of things to ponder..
Many stores were already decorated for the holidays. Without Thanksgiving, the UK begins their holiday festivities November 1st, so there is so much to do and see and many special events. The streets are all lit up and it’s a great time to visit.
Liberty of London had a top floor already filled with pretty Christmas things. I never miss a chance to get to Liberty, where the most unique finds from fashion to home. I always come away with a few gifts from here! Selfridges is another beautiful store and Harrods- if you’ve never been, is an experience!
Fortnum & Mason is the place to grab wonderful teas to take home and cookies (aka biscuits). The provider of teas and treats to the royals has been at that location in Piccadilly, since the business stared in 1707! They have an incredible selection of snacks and teas, coffee and more. The pretty metal canisters are beautiful to re-use. I bought teas for myself and my tea loving pals here.
We also had a quick pick me up of a cream tea ( usually a pot of tea and two scones with clotted cream and jam), in the cafe at Fortnum’s. They also have a kid’s ice cream parlor/ lunch spot which we took my boys to when they were young, and a fancier room for the full afternoon tea experience with a piano player and tiered stands of treats and finger sandwiches. This is a good place to buy or send a gift basket (called hampers in the UK), filled with holiday treats, teas and other Fortnum goodies.
The parks are the highlight of a London visit, especially Hyde Park! It’s also nice to have a bit of nature on a city trip. We did walk through the pretty Russell Square, which is in Bloomsbury neighborhood, right near the British Museum. Like most parks here they have a cafe and you can see fall was happening. It was a windy leaves blowing sort of day and beautiful!
We took the Tube everywhere. It makes it so easy to pop about the city. It’s a great idea if you can do it when it’s not rush hour times as it’s less crowded..
This time we did not visit any royal palaces, but if you haven’t been to London, the top of your list should be The incredible Tower of London. Kensington Palace is another good one with Diana’s dresses and an orangery to have tea, and we loved the Churchill War Rooms. Make sure you see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace or even better, the Horse Guard parade down the mall at 11:00 am which is really something to see.
If you have more time, I would consider a train to farther out spots like Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, Kew Gardens, The Imperial War Museum, Bath or Oxford. We’ve done all on the train in a day trip and they are easy. I would recommend getting tickets ahead for any of the palaces.
Where we stayed
We stayed at one of Kit Kemp’s Firmdale hotels –The Hamyard. We previously stayed at her Convent Garden hotel, near Seven Dials. This property is a little bigger and located in Soho, and convenient to shopping, museums, the theater and more.
I love the gorgeous design elements of this hotel, the dreamy beds, and the food. There’s a little honor bar where you can make yourself a drink in the library, in the evening, and the breakfast is always a highlight.
We have also used The Plum Guide twice to rent apartments in London! Look for places that are central and walking distance to a Tube station.
On My Radar..
Max and I have been obsessed with Granary bread that is served all over the UK. It’s a sort of English brown bread with oats and seeds and makes amazing toast. There is nothing like it here, but I did find a recipe here and we are going to try and attempt it this weekend. It’s that good!
Many asked about the booties I packed for this trip. I actually didn’t have a short boot that didn’t have a heel, but at the last minute I found these. They were inexpensive, and may not have even have been all leather, but worked fantastic in the rain and tromping all over the city, through airports and on cobblestones.
I got to one of my favorite stores COS, in Scotland. It was nice to see the clothes in person and I fell in love with this cashmere cardi. I loved everything about it. The fit was perfect, not tight, and cute enough to wear alone or layered and very soft. I decided to get it as I know I’ll wear it for years! ( I bought a small, they run large.)
This Julius Coat was on my wish list for the UK trip, but turns out I didn’t need a heavy coat, but I am still in love with this beauty. I own a few coats from Emerson Fry and they are all wonderful and made in the U.S. They tend to run large and I have a S or XS in all of mine.
I love the bookstores in London! I picked up Noble Ambitions about the rise and fall of the English Manor House in the 20th Century. Such a fun read if you are an anglophile and dig houses. I also love a book the sort of goes along with my travel. I started reading it on the train on the way to the English Countryside.
I also watched the Beckham documentary on the plane on the way over. I thought it was great and found David and his wife Victoria to be the most relatable and likable people. Plus now I know a ton about English football!
I’ll share the clothes I wore next week. I just ran out of time and this post is larger than I wanted. The next ones will be smaller, but there is just so much to love about London!
Oxford and the Cotswolds will be part off next week’s post and the following week Chatsworth and York, and then Edinburgh! I’ll collate them all at the end into one post so people can refer back to them for reference.
Thursday, I’ll be back with some friends to share cozy bedroom ideas!
Last week I shared a little postcard post with bits and photos from my trip and our little stop in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
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