As teased in my new Union Jack quilt post, I’ve been on a bit of an adventure. Creating and working with my Notting Hill fabric collection this year put me in the mood of craving London so much. (Not to mention the being stuck at home for the past 2 years…) This past summer when I started the new Union Jack Liberty quilt (and after watching Cruella) I put a little wish out into the Universe. And something magical happened…
I got to visit London. I’m still pinching myself that it really happened…
Flights were suddenly super-cheap… one thing led to another (including a ton of self-doubt, fighting-off a stupid cold the week before, lots of you-know-what-testing before, during and after, lots and lots of encouragement from my husband) and it somehow all worked out for a beautiful fall-visit to my favorite city.
I debated sharing pictures because. . . I don’t know why. And then I thought, why not? Traveling is scarce these days and I love living vicariously through other people’s travel pictures, so I figured I’d share a few glimpses of my adventures. If you’re only here for the fabric and quilts, I’ll share those first.
First of all, yes, I stopped at Liberty of London. The iconic Tudor-Revival storefront was covered in scaffolding (as was Big Ben and Jane Austen’s house) so I didn’t get a great picture of the front – this charming illustration will have to do.
but there were still the fresh flowers at the entrance, gorgeous woodwork interior, lots of beautiful design-inspired goods and haberdashery,
and bolts and rolls of their quintessential floral prints. If you’re new to Liberty of London and wondering what all the fuss is, here’s a little background on the history of Liberty as well as other pretty fabric shops in London.
Did some shopping and (window shopping) at a few other London favorites along Oxford Street and Regent Street as well as Hatchard’s Book Shop (HRM’s official book source) and good old Cath Kidston in Picadilly.
In addition to some shopping, I’m a total sucker for the history of London. I hit some old favorites and some new-to-me spots. It was a perfect combination. There is SO MUCH to see and do in London. It’s impossible to do it all. Anywhere I’ve traveled I’ve learned to just pick some highlights and enjoy what I do get to see and tell myself, “It’s okay – someday I’ll come back and see the parts I missed”. Even if it means I never actually go back to that place, it makes the present experience more enjoyable.
Here’s a glimpse of some of the highlights. Above: the Tower of London. Most definitely qualifies as historic. And incredibly OLD. And the iconic Tower Bridge. Not as old as the Tower itself, but still pretty awe-inspiring.
St. Paul’s Cathedral. Also incredibly iconic and inspiring. I haven’t gone inside since I was living in London as a student 28 years ago. Used a good Rick Steve’s suggestion to arrive in time for evensong. Free to get in at that time of day, beautiful music, and a nice place to rest your feet after walking 500 miles that day. But, be careful – if you’re like me you may doze off… (getting older + jet lag + long walk = zzzzz)
New to me: the bronze memorial to the firefighters during the London Blitz. After reading books like Dear Mrs. Bird and watching Call the Midwife – added appreciation for those who risked their lives to save the city during WW2.
Another new to me experience: walked across the Millenium Bridge – because you know, how can you pass up a walk across the Thames at sunset?
A favorite old haunt: Kensington Gardens – outside Kensington Palace. When I lived in London I was only a few blocks from Kensington Gardens and visited often to walk or run or just sit and do homework. It’s interesting to see what has changed and what has stayed the same since then. If you look closely at the top-left-photo, you can see the new statue of Diana as this was her home for many years.
It was also SO FUN to visit lots of favorite spots in Bayswater/Notting Hill neighborhoods where I’d lived – including exploring the Saturday market at Portobello Road. Here’s a little glimpse of the colorful neighborhood and stalls.
Another favorite old haunt – the Tate Britain Gallery. Being the anglophile that I am, one of my favorite classes in college was a Victorian Art and Lit class where I fell in love with the Pre-Raphaelites and their 19th-century cohorts. This Carnation Lily, Lily Rose painting by John Singer Sargent of Victorian girls in their magical garden is one of my all time favorites.
Another favorite stop is the Victoria & Albert Museum in Kensington. SO MUCH eye candy and decorative inspiration there. Even the walls, floors, and stairways are inspiring. The clothing exhibit is always a lot of fun.
And here was a new-to-me treasure to find at the V&A: the original café rooms that were decorated by William Morris, Edward Poynter, and James Gamble. They were STUNNING! If you’re a fan of Victorian Art, or mid-19th-century design, you can read all about the V&A Cafe rooms (and see much better pictures) here.
Another new-to-me stop was Regents Park. After a stop at the British Library, this was nearby and beckoning on a beautiful fall day. Regent’s park is one of London’s own “Mighty Five” parks. I’ve been to the other 4 parks multiple times, but never to Regent’s. And it was charming! (Not to mention spectacular in the fall foliage.) Each of the large London parks has it’s own flavor. Some are a little more wild and rugged. Regent’s (or the corner that I saw – it’s huge and I definitely didn’t get to all of it) was much more manicured and formal than the others.
One thing I got a kick out of was all of the people taking their fall selfies and ‘social media’ photos. Including this fall pumpkin set-up at the church at One Marylebone where there was a line of people waiting to get their fall flavored pictures. (Smart marketing op for a church!)
So there we have it – a whirlwind tour of London in the fall. But Christmas preparations were in earnest with lights going up in all of the major shopping districts and experiences like the ice skating rink at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington also up and running.
Merry Christmas London! Thank you for being a wonderful host, even amidst this unusual year. I’m so happy I got to see you again. ❤
I have a few other photos of a trip to Wiltshire, Bath, (and a quilt shop!) here.
Thanks for stopping by. Here’s hoping we get to start traveling again!