A Little Jaunt to London

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 (and a quilt shop!) but will save those for another day. Thanks for stopping by. Here’s hoping we get to start traveling again!

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  • Reply
    November 10, 2021 at 2:41 pm

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! for ALL the pictures of London! It is on my bucket list – part of my English heritage keeps me yearning to go! Not sure it will ever happen, so I have to live my travels through your photos! Have been trying to get to Israel and scheduled to leave for there just 24 hours after they called it off due to Covid striking in March of 2020! Will try again come March of 2022. Thanks again for sharing.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    Happy that you had the opportunity to visit London. So much to see there. I am glad people are beginning to travel again to see more of the world.

  • Reply
    The Joyful Quilter
    November 10, 2021 at 6:55 pm

    Thank you for sharing your travel photos, Amy! London is one of my favorite cities and one weekend wasn’t enough to see all I wanted to see. We packed in a lot, but you hit some highlights that I missed.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2021 at 7:21 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your lovely photos! It was wonderful to see them at the end of a horrid day. I’m so glad you got to go and have a wonderful time!! Thanks for the tip about evensong. Did you bring home a little Liberty?

  • Reply
    November 11, 2021 at 3:34 am

    What a wonderful trip! Thank you for sharing it with us! I’ve been several times as my husband had work trips there. Can’t wait to go back! I loved the V&A, and my sister and I went to evensong at St Pauls and got to sit up in the wooden seats area- overwhelming to think of who may have sat in those seats down through the years! Great memories!

  • Reply
    November 11, 2021 at 4:41 am

    That looks like the perfect trip for you! And I enjoyed all of the pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2021 at 5:44 am

    Thank you for your pictures and writing about London. I spent two weeks there with my family in 2005 and fell in love with the city. Your post brought back many fine memories.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2021 at 6:39 am

    Oh! Thank you so much for sharing all these wonderful pictures <3 London is on my 'wish list' so it was especially nice to live vicariously through you! I'm glad you got to see so much and I love looking at history too!

  • Reply
    cathy mcmann
    November 11, 2021 at 7:03 am

    Thanks, I loved seeing your pictures. I’m glad you were able to make the trip. I love travel, am leaving for France soon.

  • Reply
    Julie Bitner
    November 11, 2021 at 7:32 am

    Thank you SO much for sharing these lovely photos! What a fantastic trip. We lived in London for 3 years and it is my absolute favorite city, too. Can’t wait to return, now that things are opening up. You made my day! ❤️🇬🇧

  • Reply
    Mary Baker
    November 11, 2021 at 8:02 am

    So happy you got to go and get away! Thank you for sharing your photos! I’m drooling- over a cuppa hot tea (of course)! Life is short and so glad you jumped when the opportunity presented itself!

  • Reply
    November 11, 2021 at 8:47 am

    Great pics. Thanks so much for sharing. Glad you were able to make it, and you had a good time.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2021 at 9:34 am

    Thanks for sharing your London adventure with us. So glad you enjoyed such a marvelous time – looks like the weather cooperated, too.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    Oh, London! Thank you for sharing your pictures and especially the link to the V & A refreshment rooms. What treasures! I’m so glad you got to go when you did, and that you had a lovely time.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2021 at 4:05 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful photos of London. We have spent time there on several trips and share your love of the city. Your trip gives me hope that there is a trip there in the future for me.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2021 at 6:31 pm

    Another vicarious travels fan here. Glad you decided to share photos!

  • Reply
    Sarah Ward
    November 11, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    Thank you for you lovely post. You visited all my favorite place and made this Londoner here in Austin, TX a little home sick ❤️

  • Reply
    Bear Creek Quilting Company
    November 12, 2021 at 3:08 pm

    Looks like it was a great trip! I love all the photos! Thank you for taking us along, as it were.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2021 at 6:52 am

    Thank you for sharing the story and the pictures! I am glad you decided to travel and enjoyed it. I hope the world will heal faster and we all can travel freely again

  • Reply
    November 13, 2021 at 7:38 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your quilts and the beautiful pictures of London.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    I would love to go to London but have no idea where to start! A tour group? How do you know where to go/stay?

  • Reply
    Jane Hawthorne
    November 13, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    What a wonderful trip at a great time of year! Thank you for sharing—definitely puts the travel bug in me once again.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2021 at 10:00 pm

    Thank you for the tour as I stayed at home( Llano Tx) in my chair…I so love Liberty fabrics and seeing London thru your eyes. I’ve always wanted to go to see Big Ben and maybe HRM…. Thank you for letting me be a part of your day. My parents were from Bretagne and France so we are almost “fabric cousine”.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2021 at 10:37 pm

    Thank you for sharing your travel photos. We are feeling a tad isolated down here in Australia, so it was wonderful to live vicariously through you!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2021 at 10:46 pm

    Hey Amy

    du fragst wie mein Sommer war – etwas traurig da ich nicht zu meiner Familie nach London konnte.
    Ich liebe London- meine Tochter lebt seit 22 Jahren dort.

    Ich muss was Fragen: du erzählt vom Haus von Jane Austen – trotz das ich schon seit 2006 jedes Jahr nach London fliege – habe ich es noch nicht gefunden.
    Kannst du mir verraten wo es ist.

    Viele Grüße aus Sachsen


  • Reply
    Rose Bosse
    November 13, 2021 at 11:45 pm

    G’day. What a gem your wonderful blog is, I just ‘discovered’ it yesterday. I’m just starting my ‘patchwork’ hobby this month (aged 60!). So much to learn and to try. I think your blog/site will help me nicely along the way.

    I love the images of London, my birthplace and where I too lived (Drury Lane) and studied as a student nurse, way back in the ’80s. I’ve lived in rural Australia for 33 years now….married to an Aussie! Thanks so much for sharing all your wonderful thoughts, experiences, patterns, knowledge…

  • Reply
    November 14, 2021 at 8:38 am

    What a fabulous trip! I took my youngest daughter to London when she graduated high school over fourteen years ago and it was the best trip: the V&A, Tate, Liberty, and doing many of the same things you did. She wanted to take the London Eye, and it amazing: the view was unparralled. I wasn’t a quilter then, but I did sew, so of course we had to go to Liberty of London. The fabrics! The yarns! We loaded up and I still have a lot of them, but now I can incorporate those fabrics in quilts. We also had tea at Liberty, which was so much fun. My daughter still talks of this trip and how we need to go back. 🙂 So happy you has a great time and at such a lovely time of year.

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