I feel like I’m way behind on the blogging as so many great things have happened in the last couple weeks. I wanted to do an individual post for each one, but I might condense them into a few groups instead.

The rest of my friend AF’s visit was great fun. That Tuesday we took a bus tour to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath. Windsor was neat to see, but they didn’t allow you to take any photos inside, which is kind of my raison d’être. I’d been to Stonehenge before, and it was still interesting to see a second time around. We have a third visit planned for next month, so I might look into the Historic Sites annual pass. And we went to the Roman baths and the abbey in Bath.

It was a long day, but I felt like we hardly had any time in any given place and were always the last ones on the bus. I wouldn’t mind spending more time in the town of Windsor. It was super cute, and the train dropped off right in the middle of town a couple blocks from the castle and is barely an hour from London. I also saw a great glassblowing store in Bath where you can blow your breath into a bauble and keep it as a souvenir. That might be a fun thing for our son to try. I still remember the fight he gave us when we tried to press his little hand into a souvenir clay mold when he was two. So we’ll definitely test the waters first.

Purse-sized Stonehenge.

Purse-sized Stonehenge.

A little closer up.

A little closer up.

The Roman Baths.

The Roman Baths.

Inside Bath Abbey.

Inside Bath Abbey.

The following day was at a more relaxed pace. We went to Rowley’s restaurant in St. James for lunch. I had a voucher for 2-for-1 chateaubriand and chips. So we drank a nice bottle of wine and admired the Victorian ceramic tiled walls before grabbing a cab to the Duke of York’s Theatre. Our driver was the first female cabby I’d seen since we’d arrived, so we made sure and gave her a nice tip. 🙂

The Duke of York’s was the theatre where J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan debuted on December 27, 1904. We were there to watch Jeeves & Wooster, which we both really enjoyed. Jeeves was played by Matthew MacFadyen who is one of my favorite British actors…having been one of the lead characters in the British TV series MI-5 and also played Mr. Darcy opposite Kiera Knightley in Pride and Prejudice. Still love him!

Fun Victorian-tiled interior of Rowley's.

Fun Victorian-tiled interior of Rowley’s.

Inside the Duke of York's Theatre.

Inside the Duke of York’s Theatre.

Door detail on Wesminster Abbey.

Door detail on Wesminster Abbey.

The next day we hopped on the train and went out to Hampton Court. The weather was okay, didn’t rain, but it was strangely bright and overcast at the same time. Turns out we were in the middle of weird weather phenomenon due to dust from the Sahara blowing over the whole of the UK. Back in London, people were being told not to leave their houses because the air was too crap to breath. We missed that memo and spent most of the day wandering around the gardens and through the medieval rooms of King Henry VIII’s palace on the Thames.

Hampton Court view from the formal gardens.

Hampton Court view from the formal gardens.

Hanging out with King Henry VIII.

Hanging out with King Henry VIII.

Amazing mural designed by William Kent above the Grand Staircase to William III's apartments.

Amazing mural designed by William Kent above the Grand Staircase to William III’s apartments.

Friday was royal day on our itinerary. We had a nice quiet morning wandering around Mayfair…checked out the house where Ian Fleming was born, visited the embassy, and stopped into the church where they filmed the wedding scene at the beginning of Love Actually, also with Kiera Knightley. Then we walked over to Buckingham Palace. We happened to catch it just at the end of the changing of the guard, so that was kind of fun to see. I couldn’t believe how many people were there though. Tons of school groups. Many of whom then ran seemingly unsupervised through St. James Park picking all the flowers and rolling in the grass.

We had a little bit of time to kill before our next appointment for afternoon tea, so we strolled through the Royal Mews since it was half price and only £5 at the moment. All the horses and half the carriages were out for an Irish diplomatic visit at Windsor. But we still saw some neat carriages, including the Golden Carriage that Queen Victoria hated so much. Another place we will have to take our son back to when the horses are all there.

After that we finished out the day with tea at The Rubens at the Palace hotel across from the mews. (Mews means stables, by the way.) There had been a business on the site since 1815…everything from an apothecary, and a silk flower shop, to a bread store. But the hotel had been only been around since 1912. Their website points out that this was a very historic year.

…the year which saw the sinking of the Titanic, the year Captain Scott reached the South Pole [only to find that Amundsen had beaten him by thirty-five days], and the year suffragettes started a new window-smashing campaign and ninety-six of their supporters were arrested after they stormed the House of Commons.

Many places do tea differently, and I’m hoping to try as many as possible before we leave. But this is definitely one of my favorites so far. They had little couches facing the window so you could watch people coming and going out of the back of Buckingham Palace. The tea itself was excellent, and the desserts were incredibly artistic with chocolates in the shape of birdhouses and eclairs in the shape of little swans. Definitely two thumbs up!

Inside the church where the wedding scene from "Love Actually" was filmed.

Inside the church where the wedding scene from “Love Actually” was filmed.

The changing of the guard at Buckinham Palace.

The changing of the guard at Buckinham Palace.

The Gold State Coach.

The Gold State Coach.

A window seat for afternoon tea.

A window seat for afternoon tea.

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