Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Smug Mummy Jet-Sets: England, the Third (and Final) Bit

**This is the third installment in a travel series; should you find yourself suffering from insomnia, you can read the first and second parts here.**

I am nothing if not consistent. I pride myself on it - except when it comes to my crap travel photography, at which I am consistent about being consistently forgetful.

And so it was in London, where the drizzly Queen's Weather on Monday night & all day Tuesday (to put that in Jubilee terms, the night of the Jubilee concert and following day's lunch and procession respectively) caused me to abandon my fancy camera almost entirely and just, you know, enjoy. Crazy, I realize.

So while I have lots of other circumstantial evidence (fancy former lawyer phrase for "stuff") of my having spent one helluva day traipsing around London:

Yes, I'm a grown woman who purchased 3 copies of a Princess Shinylocks sticker book, what of it? 

I have little to show for it in the way of photos. I apologize, but - MAN (or WO-MAN, we're equal opportunity here at the Pretty) (Ahem) (Parentheses) what a marathon day!

After returning to London and spending a quiet night dining at the home of the IWOM & Consort's friends and watching the Jubilee Concert - ludicrous spinning crystal diamond thingy and all - on TV, we set out the next morning for Kensington Palace.

Because of course we did - the Duchess of Perfection lives there, etc. etc. Also:

See that demure little lady *ahem* gyrating against the Palace gate as she posed for photos? This went on for what felt like hours. We suspected she'd missed the Royal memo about pole dancing on Palace grounds - you know the one.
Perhaps it was our disappointment at not spotting Princess Shinylocks on her home turf - not that we were glancing around in hopes of catching her en route to the Jubilee lunch or something - but the inside of Kensington Palace was a bit of a disappointment.

The Diana dress display was fun if small, and the Queen Victoria exhibit had some lovely mementos, but the space open to the public overall was not what I'd expected. The exhibits were trying desperately to be modern, all noise and out of chronological order, and as such were confusing. You couldn't see much of the actual Palace for all the attempts to . . . I'm not sure what, exactly, but the exhibits, particularly the Jubilee one, left us wanting.

These gems we stumbled across in a random Palace hallway, however, did not:

Any doubts I had about "The Firm" liking this Wills-Kate thing were firmly erased after this tour - they're really putting this pair all over everything, aren't they? 

Don't you think these would look fetching at Pretty HQ? (I fear I probably need to add that I'm joking here, so - yes. Kidding. I mean, it's not like we could take that revisionist Wills hairline seriously anyways, could we? Really.)

Ahem. We had some high street shopping to do  - more on that in another post - so we missed the Orangery, which I hear is a gorgeous bit of Kensington Palace to take tea in. We followed that up with an excellent Lady Lunch at Launceston Place, a quietly elegant spot nearby.

We took the Tube from there to the Victoria & Albert Museum ("V&A") (best gift shop of the bunch, by the way) for the "Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950" special exhibit:


This exhibit - more fun than you can shake a Stella McCartney at (I wonder if shaking her clothes would make them more flattering?) - is well worth an hour or so. A two-story exhibit, it begins slowly with a display of older gowns organized by color.

Where things really get exciting, though, is when you ascend the stairs to the more contemporary designs. It's total girly eye candy, stunningly lit and creatively displayed, chock-a-block with both Pretty (including Kate favorites Erdem and Jenny Packham) and couture crazy - tinfoil Christmas tree dress, anyone?

We tore ourselves away to make quick menswear and Fortnum and Mason stops on Jermyn Street, then met up with another dear friend - hi, S! - and the Consort for a tea of perfection at The Wolseley. Do yourself a favor if you're by Picadilly and splurge on the hearty Champagne Tea - will it surprise anyone that I did? The entire affair was a confection for the eyes and the appetite:

via (I'm still kicking myself for not taking photos here. The food, the tea, the building, all of it was beautiful)

Having stuffed ourselves - ok, just my own personal self - with more scones than strictly necessary, the IWOM and I headed for the West End to see the sublimely silly, entirely wonderful One Man, Two Guvnors at the Royal Haymarket:

If the recent Tony for the Broadway production of this doesn't sway you, consider this tidbit - it rocked. Also, the IWOM tells me Anna Wintour loved this, and if its good enough for the Devil Wears Prada, it works for the Pretty.

Truly, though, this was just total fun. There's plenty of slapstick humor, which isn't always my thing, but this is more in the Gilbert & Sullivan British tradiiton, with the twist of an adorable Beatles-like "band" playing between scenes and a few other funny goodies I won't spoil.

With that, 13 hours after we set out, our marathon day and my trip ended. I set off for Heathrow & home the next morning with that funny traveler's mixed bag that seems to be my post-kid normal - distraught at ending the traveling fun and leaving dear friends behind, but just as desperate to see my boys back home too.

And 1 cancelled flight, 1 car drive across Texas with 4 complete strangers, 1 lost bag, and 24 hours later, I was finally home. We must take the bad bits of travel with the good, although I found myself wondering - surely Princess Shinylocks doesn't have to put up with this (stuff)?!


The Shabby Princess said...

A. I love the V&A, am jelly you saw the ballgown exhibit, sister and I missed it last time. Will drag cousin to it of course!
B. My favorite "royal" locale is Buckingham Palace, the tour is just perfect and I can pretend I live there. Or something.
C. I adore Royal Haymarket--might be one of my favorite venues in London, but, that's also because I have so many great memories on that dang street from my former PR days.
D. I love everything about this post! So glad you had a LOVELY time in our city!

a H.I.T. said...

I'm surprised the exhibit wasn't more enticing, but the ball gown exhibit from 1950 on sounds quite fabulous and very pretty-esque. Looks like you had an absolutely amazing trip!

Anonymous said...

It all sounds fantastic! When Mr. L and I were in London a few years ago, he wanted to go to the Natural History museum but the only natural history I cared for was the natural history of Royals. So I walked through Hyde Park to Kensington and toured the castle. This was late February, so there were about 4 other tourists in the entire place. Thus, I was bombarded by "re-enactors" who talked to me like it was 1700 and Queen Mary had *just* died of smallpox that very night. It was all at once creepy and fascinating. I thought overall Kensington was sadly tired. Obviously they are not pumping money into it to make the exhibits can't-miss.

However, while I was there, in what had previously been part of Princess Margaret's apartments, they had a really lovely exhibit called The Last Debutantes, which was about the last class of Debs who were presented to Queen Elizabeth in the late 1950s. It was really wonderful and I enjoyed that quite a lot.

Fortnum & Mason is probably my most favorite store in all of London (aside from the bookstore Hatchard's ,which is just down the street) and I JUST ordered their Jubilee teapot & teacup since I couldn't be there!

I'm glad you did high tea while you were there! I was able to talk Mr. L into tea at Brown's but he just wasn't as into it as the ladies. The Champagne helped a little!

I am beyond thrilled for you that you got to experience such a lovely trip. A lifetime of memories for you. Thank you for sharing it with us.


Elz said...

How sad is it that I totally want the Stickerbook?! Sounds like a blast. Thanks for the posts; filing away for my next trip!

Amy @ Forever 29 said...

That sounds like my kind of day! I'm known to pack the travel days so full I'm left needing a vacay after my vacay. Sounds like you may have been the same after the adventure trying to get home!

Belle on Heels said...

My only question is why you didn't buy out the entire country's stock of the sticker books? I feel like I would use up all the stickers in 3 books in like...a week. No shame.

Nat said...

Love the recaps!! How is that Dress Up Kate sticker book, because I totally want want?!

Emily said...

There is a sticker book!?!?!

Trying not to be jealous.

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