What would a trip to London be without at least one proper fancy afternoon tea? And our favorite place to go is definitely the Orangery in Kensington Palace. Of course, I say that like I have a ton of authority on British afternoon teas, which I definitely don’t. We’ve gone to a small handful of places, all fantastic, but there’s just something extra special about the Orangery. And since it was Cathy’s first trip to London, we wanted to share our favorite tea time spot!

It’s a little damp outside, but we’re still excited for a hot cup of tea and tiny bite sized treats!

#FancyChinaGoals

Teeny tiny tea appropriately sized finger sandwiches

And even better, the tiny sampling of sweets!

Mr. Andy drinking his proper cup of tea. But…why no pinky?

After our delightful afternoon tea, we wandered around and explored Kensington Palace. They had a fun collection of royal dresses, including some of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret’s dresses on display.

Sparkly!

I’m not exactly sure what it says about my style that I would totally wear something in this gorgeous rosebud print! But I think it’s beautiful!

How perfectly vintage and gorgeous!

I know many of you are thinking, “poor Andy, he must have been so bored!” Don’t worry friends, he always finds his own entertainment!

Andy as a well dressed lady in waiting? If the giant skirt fits, why not?

The day did turn out to be rather drizzly and cold. So, we spent a nice evening in our flat with a good tart English cider and watched the Great British Bake Off live on the television! It’s one of the many perks of renting a flat instead of staying at a hotel, you get a little more freedom to do/relax as you please. If/when we go back to London someday, we would definitely rent another flat! Maybe try a different part of town! **and already she’s dreaming of another trip to London**

Took a mini hiatus, but here I am, back again to tell you about one of our most favorite spots in all of London! Admittedly, Kew Gardens didn’t even make it on our list the last time we were in London. But Cathy insisted that we visit it this time around, and I’m so glad we did!

Kew Gardens are the Royal Botanic Gardens. For years and years, spanning multiple reigns of kings and queens of England, these gardens have collected interesting and beautiful species from all around the world! Their collections are enormous and it was so fun wandering around the vast grounds. Even better, we got there for an early morning walking tour with a garden guide. We learned so much about the history of the grounds and plenty of interesting facts about the collection itself. Okay, enough chatter, how about some pretty pictures?

This is a branch from a funky tree called a Monkey Puzzle tree. It’s spiky and downright bizarre looking. Love. <3

Here is Andy in front of the famous Palm House. Believe it or not, it was designed by borrowing techniques from the ship building industry at that time. So, I guess the fact that it looks like an upside down boat was done on purpose?

And how about some giant palms inside said Palm House? Here’s Andy pretending to be Totoro.

This one is for you Mom! The most beautiful water lilies in all shapes and colors!

Beautiful water lilies, GINORMOUS spiky water lily pads. You do NOT want to accidentally fall on one of those the wrong way…

Cathy and Andy in front of the Temperate House? I think? I really should take better notes…

And of course, the rose garden. We visited towards the end of the season, but the remaining roses were still gorgeous and so fragrant!

Or if you prefer red…

Andy and me posing in front of one of the many long tree lined walkways. Honestly, the weather was perfect! We could have spent the entire day just wandering around and soaking in all the wonderful sights!

Andy imitating the White Greyhound of Richmond. Not sure what was with the grimace, but maybe that’s what all noble greyhounds do?

We had a delicious lunch at the cafe and sadly said goodbye to Kew Gardens. But since we were on that side of town, we decided to make a quick stop at Hampton Court Palace…where we enjoyed more garden time. Oh well, if the weather really is that spectacular, why not take advantage of it?

The beautiful (and haunted) Hampton Court Palace, previous home of King Henry the VIII. Yes, THAT King Henry the VIII. The one with all the wives? Hence the haunting…also the reason why I took the picture from way over here.

We’re good at that relaxing thing!

Legless Angela. Not entirely sure why I decided to pose like this, but there you have it!

And then I found the dahlia garden. I spent a good amount of time trying to take pictures of these gorgeous flowers. Oh I love dahlias!

Dahlias as big as your head!!

Dahlias in every color! Though this one reminds me of a poisonous fish or as if it’s trying to warn me to stay away.

Cute little potted orange trees.

Cathy in front of the beautiful mess that can be an English garden.

And there you have it, our garden tour day! So much fun and I would so definitely do it again! But there are so many more gardens to visit! Oh a traveler’s work is never done…

Okay, for those that may not know it, we are huge fans of British television. We regularly watch Downton Abbey, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Nigella, Gardener’s World, the old Top Gear, Great British Bake-off, amongst many many other shows. But one of our absolute favorites is River Cottage. And every fall, River Cottage holds a huge autumn fair at their headquarters near Axminster. The autumn fair just happened to be the weekend we were in town! We saw this as a great opportunity to see more of England on a little day trip out of London. So, we hopped in our teeny tiny rental car and headed for Devon. It was a beautiful (though early) drive!

When we arrived at the fair, it was exactly what we had imagined it would be! The show is set on a very rural but beautiful farmhouse property. There were animals, gardens, a delicious bbq, local brews, activities, live music, and plenty of local vendors set up stands for us to wander around.

Andy introducing us to the River Cottage festival fields…

Hanging out in the festival fields, have you ever seen so much green? And though the weather was a little gray, it was actually a nice day out! Though being in the somewhat muddy fields did make me wish I had the quintessential British wellies in my wardrobe.

That way to see the cows…

Look at all those cabbages! Brassicas for us all!

The ever climbing sweet pea tunnel. Smelled so pretty!

And we even got to see a bird of prey show! The most massive bird was this giant vulture! Scary looking fella, but impressive nonetheless! Look at that wingspan!

After wandering around the fair, we took a look at the map to plot our course home. That’s when we discovered, we’re not too far from the coast! Why not take a quick detour to go see the beach?

Not the white sand beaches of Florida or Hawaii, but still absolutely gorgeous! Loved the cliffs and walking in the gravel! And see? Weather cleared up for a beautiful ocean picture!

It was a great day, even if we did do a lot of driving. However, we’re from Texas/Kansas. We’re used to a lot of driving to get anywhere interesting. The rest of our trip was completely London centered, so it was nice to take a day and get out to see the countryside. After all, there’s so much more to England than just London!

And there, I posted twice in the last two weeks and plan to continue blogging! Promise!

I know. It’s been a long time since I’ve updated my blog. In fact, it’s been so long that I actually forgot how to log into said blog. Well, no matter. Here I am getting ready to tell you about our trip last year to the UK. We had so much fun that I simply couldn’t neglect the opportunity to say a few (or a lot of) words about our awesome trip! So, here we go!

 

Why did we go to London again, didn’t we just go in 2011? Why yes! We sure did! Several reasons why we felt the need to re-visit the UK.

  1. It was my birthday gift to my little sister Cathy who recently turned thirty.
  2. (and probably more importantly) We had theatre tickets to see Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet!! Thanks to our friends Gary and Adrian for helping us get these extremely sought after tickets!
  3. Plus, it’s London!! We will never pass up the opportunity to explore London!

This time, instead of a crazy multi country trek from one end of the UK to the other, we decided to make London our home base and really take the time to explore one of our favorite cities. We rented a little flat in Kensington for our stay. This was really ideal because we each had our own space, a little kitchen for when we didn’t feel like going out to eat, and a common area to just hang and watch tv after a long day of sight seeing.

The back patio for our flat. It was a beautiful little area (when the weather cooperated). We liked to watch the neighborhood cats walking the fences throughout the day.

I actually think Andy was testing the camera during this shot. But it was the only other picture we took in the flat. So…here’s the living room where we spent many a late night taste testing delicious ciders and watching hilarious British television.

The first full day after we arrived in London (The actual first day doesn’t count. When you arrive in London at 7 am after an overnight flight, nothing makes sense and everything is a hazy nightmare), we decided to ease into sight seeing with a stroll down Portobello Road Market. Cue the song from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. So many fun things to look at and the weather was beautiful!

So many antiques to peruse!

I’m not sure what you do with old type, but it certainly looks cool!

Tiny bathtubs to hold your soap? Why not! Actually, I’m kind of kicking myself for not buying a tiny soap holding bathtub. I wish I had one now…

We stopped to get some food and check out the Tesco grocery store just down the block from our flat. So convenient! A nice nap may have been had before Andy and I got ready for our big Hamlet outing. Hey! Naps are important! Besides, when on vacation, you should be able to do as you please (within good reason, of course)!

So, we dug our jet lagged butts out of bed because we had a very important date with Gary and Adrian and Benedict Cumberbatch!

Our happy foursome at the Barbican Theatre spending a cultured evening watching Hamlet. (And seriously, five seconds after we snapped this photo THIS happened. Really truly.)

Though we didn’t get to actually take any non-photobombed photos of Mr. Cumberbatch, we were so amazingly close to the stage! It was a beautiful performance! And I don’t even like Hamlet that much!

Me and my Hamlet playbill.

A pretty good first night in London if you ask me! And I promise to come back to continue telling the tale of our London adventure. Really promise. :)