Cats, Queens & Other Things

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The Queen

 Phew.

Finally downloaded and edited all my photos from our recent trip to London.

What an AMAZING city. No wonder I loved living there for so many years.

 It was my husband’s first time back in I don’t know how long, so I was anxious that everything go well, including the fickle English weather.

Incredibly, my prayers, crossed fingers & toes and midnight sacrifices to the Gods of Good Favour were answered.

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All those familiar with the Spring/early Summer/Summer/late Summer weather in Blighty will appreciate the wonder of the above photo.

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Streets of LondonNot only that, but there was a lovely buzz about the city as we just happened to be there for the 60 year celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

I love the Queen. I do. Perhaps it stems from singing “God Save the Queen” as a child in school. I know the entire concept of royalty seems antiquated and unnecessary to countless people (including my husband) but I like me some old-fashioned tradition.

Yes, I get that she was born into almost unfathomable privilege, but she has also spent almost her entire life in service to her country and ‘subjects’ and there’s something to be said for that. Take a look at some other countries around the world to see how power and position has been and is outrageously abused. Imagine how many thousands of events, whether they be joyous or sad, important or inane, in good weather or bad (and you know it’s mostly bad!) she’s had to trot herself out for over the decades (always with heels and hat) when she might have preferred to stay home with a good book or to watch “Breaking Bad”.

or “Game of Thrones” 🙂

Bailing is not really an option when you’re the Queen of England. She has only 3 more years to go to beat Queen Victoria out as the longest reigning British Monarch.

Go Liz!

Plus, she has great skin, ya gotta give her points for that.

Crown shopping

I don’t wish to imply I got completely caught up in the pomp & pageantry, but I do confess to a little crown window shopping…

Strangely enough,  the Queen’s 350 year old coronation crown was removed from The Tower of London and “escorted” to Westminster Abbey in its own private carriage for the ceremony, but apparently she didn’t put it on.

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It just sat on a velvet pillow along with the ampulla.

The last time she wore it was 1953?

What up with that?? I would have put it on and posted a quick “selfie” on Instagram.

Probably another reason why I wouldn’t make a good Queen.

But you know what they say…If you haven’t worn it in two years…

Smokin catAnd as another saying goes… “A cat can look at a Queen” (is anyone on this side of the pond familiar with that?!”

This is “Jinks” who was obviously so beloved at “Bates Hatters” they decided to keep him around when he finally “passed out” in 1926.

Panama hatsThis is the most amazing old world hat shop in London, located just behind Fortnum & Mason, off Picadilly.

fine Panama hat

This is where you might pick up one of those $10,000 Panama hats that take 6 months to weave.

The example above costs about $2,500. You can see how fine the weave is compared to the one on the left.

Top hats, London hat shopOr perhaps just a top hat for “The Season”?

Sadly, I didn’t buy anything there except postcards. Hat or crown, hat or crown…I had to pace myself and consider my luggage restrictions.

Men's shaving brushesI popped into “Bates” while the hubs was getting a little well deserved pampering next door at “Taylor’s of Old Bond St” on Jermyn St.

IMG_5483He said it was fabulous.

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Hard not to be inspired just a little bit by all the shops and possibilities of sprucing One’s self up a wee bit in London.

I had to think of the always dapper Scott Meacham Wood’s blog “The Adventures of TartanScot” when I took these photos.

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A most dapper older gent.

Selfridge'sMy husband also wanted to see Selfridge’s after watching the mini-series recently.

 I said, OK, if you insist…(the things we do for love)

Selfridge's, London

Having spent many a day in this monolith of a department store in my day, I was still surprised to see the madness inside. I admit, and with no sense of pride whatsoever, it was the first time I’ve ever felt a tad overwhelmed by the shopping experience. Don’t tell anyone. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the mini-series, the coronation celebrations, or the simple fact it was the first week of summer holidays, but the crowds were reedonkulous inside.

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The new addition (at least new to me) of “The Silence Room” did alleviate my  anxiety.  I was obviously not alone.

I hadn’t lost my shopping mojo after all!

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PS. there were two people making out in the corner.

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After the madness of Oxford St, we were relieved to come back to the cozy cocoon that is Claridge’s.

OK, some of the rooms could use a little re-do and the electrical outlets have been painted over so many times they look like pig snouts (Jerry Seinfeld) but it’s hard to beat for location, charm and a sense of history.

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Churchill entering Claridge’s

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The Duke of Windsor exiting

Claridges, London

Claridge’s

I adore the main entrance and tea salon. The flowers are always interesting and the people watching is fab.

Claridge's, London

Claridge’s London, lobby

Flower arrangements, Claridges

Coming up; more window shopping, the London social calendar, gardens and the Bowie exhibit.

Happy Weekend to All!!

xx SP.

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*First image of the Queen from Maison Bertaux

40 Comments

  1. Hi Slim,
    I’m going to London in two weeks. Where do you suggest for afternoon tea? Please make it somewhere that is not the most expensive!
    Thanks,
    Diane

    • Sorry Diane, I’m not in the loop really for great tea places, other than the old standards. Perhaps a few Londoners might chime with suggestions for you!

  2. I too looooooooooooove the royals. All of them …. it is like a time capusle of a different era that we can watch. Love Wills and Harry. There mother would be so proud of them. Think Kate is what they always hoped Diana would be or become as it were. And Diana !! Who ever tires of seeing pictures of The Princess of Wales. When I was in London years ago there was to be a Royal Premier of some James Bond movie and the streets were lined with folk hoping to catch a glimps of the Royal motorcade on its way to the theater. It just so happened that I was walking along the city street heading to a play and suddenly a large Rolls passed within inches of me. Low and behold I turned to glance in just as the occupant happened to glance out at me — it was Diana. All alone in the back of the car in an enormous pale yellow gown. Complete with tiara. Our eyes locked for a moment and then she slowly turned away. It is a moment I will always remember. I could feel her loneliness sitting there all by herself, her Prince no doubt in a car somewhere ahead or behind her. She was absolutely luminecent and you could feel that amazing presence even thru the 3 inches of bullet proof glass. An amazing moment. Unforgetable.

  3. love the images of the hat store, sadly this kind of specialty store has just about disappeared from our city. Love all the old world elegance.

  4. Just loved your shots! Had no idea what to expect. (By the by i have a friend with a collection of coronation originals, pamphets from ceremony and more, that are fab and is selling cheap, if you are into these which i think maybe you are. I will pass along info. xo

  5. Hi–
    Enjoy your blog so much–beauty and brains (and a sense of humor, love it). There is a lovely tea room/cafe on the Philadelphia Main Line called www ATasteofBritaininWayne.com. The young gal who owns it offers all sorts of imported “favourites” as well as full afternoon tea. She has hosted special events during the London Olympics, Phila. Flower Show (theme this year, Brilliant!) and will plan something special in pink or blue once the royal baby arrives. It feels like being in a little corner of England. After a relaxing cuppa, it is much easier to “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

  6. I laughed out loud re: the two year rule. Should someone tell The Queen? Even as an American, I am a fan. It is quite a commitment, even with the tremendous privileges.

    Also love all of your photos of shops that seem to be preserve Another Time. And Claridge’s does, too, I think (http://somecozynight.com/2011/09/28/i-started-a-joke/). As I sit here in leggings and a t-shirt, I am beginning to feel like I should be upping my game, even if my big outing this afternoon was a dog walk. At least I could have put on proper shoes rather than my garden clogs…

    Thanks for helping start my weekend with a giggle — and also getting me newly obsessed with a Silence Room! So good.

    xx

  7. Am so glad you got the only week of sun we have had this whole year! Talking about the Queen did you go and see The Audience with Helen Mirren and an incredible cast and set? x

    • No, sadly I missed it. Never enough time in London, Paris, NY…always SO many things to see and do (and eat) in those cities!

      • Dear Slim
        You would love “The Audience”! I was in London too on Janelle’s wonderful tour and was sadly disappointed to miss it. But the play was so popular it was completely booked out right to the end of its run – the staff at our hotel advised. They suggested I consider waiting in the theatre lobby from about 3.00pm in the hope someone might return tickets for that evening’s performance. But if I’d had tickets and then broke a leg I ‘d have got there somehow or given them to a friend, so it didn’t seem a good use of a nice afternoon to spend it waiting there without much hope of success. Luckily on returning home to Oz discovered there’s a brilliant film version of the same stage play, with the added bonus of an interview with Helen Mirren and the writer – also a segment on the “Queen’s” costumes. Hopefully it might soon come to a cinema near you. Really worth seeing! Run don’t walk!
        Claridges looks beautiful – love the shot of the lobby. But was surprised to see such a dapper old gentleman wearing a hat indoors. Even the then Prince of Wales (in your black and white pic) was carrying his hat as he exited Claridges. Have heard The Ritz these days does several sessions of afternoon tea every afternoon and that guests are pretty quickly hustled through – so may not be quite as delightful as in the past. Best wishes, Pamela

  8. The photo of the well dressed older gentleman brought tears to my eyes. He reminded me of my maternal grandfather who dressed up to ride the bus into downtown LA a few tines each week. Bygone era here. Your photos always are worth the cruise through your fun and adventurous blog–many thanks!!!

  9. So happy you watch Breaking Bad, I do too. It’s salacious & wonderful, isn’t it?
    Brilliant post, as usual. So happy you tagged along with husband to all those frightful places :)’s

  10. Dear Slim,

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post. I agree with you about the queen’s total devotion to her responsibilities. I believe her parents were the same, and during a very rocky period in history, too. I love the Brits for their stoicism, their perfect grammar and elocution and their good manners. Qualities that, I believe, are sadly disappearing in our world. My Dad once took me to Paris on the Concorde, then the bullet train to London, and we sailed across the Atlantic, back to New York on the Queen Elizabeth II. It was a fabulous trip. Your photos bring back so many wonderful memories. London is my favorite city in the entire world. How lucky you were to be able to live there! I love the pale beige vest with the pink embroidery… and that pink cravat. Gorgeous! I would wear that myself. (Am curious to know if you went to Harrod’s and if so, what your impression was.) There are so many wonderful things to do in a city like this. It is hard to choose. I so love reading your blog. Thanks again. To one your previous posters, Diane, I did go to afternoon tea at the Ritz, which was fabulous. They recently remodeled the Palm Court – beautiful. You might also consider the Savoy. They are probably both expensive, but if you go to afternoon tea, rather that high tea, which is almost like dinner, it won’t cost as much. But wherever you go, BE SURE AND MAKE A RESERVATION AHEAD OF TIME!

    Lisa

    • Hi Lisa. What a wonderful holiday with your father! I would LOVE to cross on a ship from NY to London. It’s on my list for sure. I did go to Harrod’s but I was very rushed and looking for something in particular. I like to visit the food hall there, it’s so amazing, but I didn’t have the time. For department store shopping in general though I prefer Liberty’s and Harvey Nichols to Harrod’s.

  11. Slim,
    This is my FAVORITE city! So much fun to hear all about your trip. Looks like you had amazing weather. Way to go. The cat was hilarious.
    Enjoy your weekend.
    Karen

  12. What a sport you were to follow hubs around. Jinks is a bit creepy, but funny. A $10,000 panama? Staggering. I think the Monarchy is grand. The Queen has weathered many storms with grace and a handbag. Your photos are amazing as always!!

  13. Oh my, Slim, hat or crown, hat or crown dilemma? It’s so obvious to choose the crown!! 🙂
    I saw her crown 15 yrs ago at the Tower and drooled so much on the glass they had to bring
    in a wet dry vac and lord knows the Brits don’t like to buy American.
    And I have never seen such a dapper cat in my life! Wow..if I were a girlie kitty I would be
    all over that cat gent. What style! May I save the photo to use as my screen saver? 🙂
    Meow.

  14. Nothing’s more perfect than a perfect trip to London, and you had one! I found myself thinking (and maybe saying) ‘pip pip and tally ho’ after reading your post, seems like the nicely dressed gentleman might still say such vintagely proper English phrases…and I definitely found myself craving tea (and Downton Abbey)…the possibility of a taxidermist for my little loveys crossed my mind as well…Jinks looks amazing for being 87!
    Thanks you so much for the wonderful and desperately needed British escape…
    xo J~

  15. Oh after reading the other posts, I had to jot down another note asking if you had ever watched
    the show “Little Miss Jocelyn” while living in London? I used to work there and totally became
    addicted to this comedy. The gal, Jocelyn Esien, reminds me of Carol Burnett a bit. She does
    a skit as a Bobby putting tickets on cars with a hidden camera. I fell out of my chair laughing so hard.

  16. Love, love, love your travels. I just don’t understand why you don’t call me to accompany you. I would he happy to run errands, chill the champagne, order you a car and driver. You name it I’d be happy to do it. Maybe next time? Let me know. Wowza is all I can say.

  17. Wonderful post Slim. I’m most envious of that “silence room”, my house really needs one of those!

  18. I was there too in May and June, actually with Ms Faux Fuchsia and 23 others, and loved it so much that I’m now planning to return and spend a few months there. It’s been 14 years since I’ve lived there and so much has changed but the spirit, dignity and quiet beauty of the city is still evident at every turn. Mayfair was the one neighbourhood that was really surprising. Such gorgeous shops and bars… And so many people actually live there that it’s become a thriving little village. We particularly loved the boutiques of Mount Street, and the secret gardens behind it. That’s the thing about London; it always has a few tricks up its (well-tailored) sleeves!

  19. once again, nice post! never hurts to have glorious weather when traveling. I just happened to turn on the tv local PBS station was airing a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. Prince Charles was commenting on actual film taken during his life…apparently his father enjoyed making the home movies. Very interesting footage. Seeing the black and white photo of her in the crown–he spoke of her practicing wearing the crown as it was very heavy. Will be back in London next spring–might need to pop into lobby of Claridge Hotel to see that loveliness for myself.

  20. Loved this post. So glad you concluded with pics of one of my favorite hotels in all the world. I was lucky enough to spend a week there recently. It’s not only beautiful but cozy. Adored the Art Deco decor!! Thanks for bringing back a fun memory !

  21. I too love the Queen. She reminds me of my mother (I hope that is not disrespectful but my mother was quite the grande dame). She was the same age and had the same hairdo. Anyway, I hope to make it to London some day and take it all in. Thanks for the great post.

  22. Quite frankly, what’s not to love about London? but as always, you highlight a couple of unusual corners to check out on my next visit! I wanted to rest your mind about something,,,,HM wears the Imperial State Crown every year to open Parliament, so no worries that it is neglected!! Thanks for a great post,
    Cheers!

  23. Loved every word and picture! And shoot, we just missed you! Did you perchance visit Stephanie Hoppen’s gallery in Walton Street? Always fun… I just posted about it funnily enough.

Would love to hear from you!