One of the benefits to G’s heavy travel schedule is points in airline and hotel loyalty programmes. And because he’s basically a really great guy, he blows those points on trips to places that I want to go – like to my favourite city – London – for eight days.

This trip we stayed in a hotel immediately north of Kensington Gardens. If you like to walk and wander, this is a great location. There’s the park (Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park), the possibility of a Royalty sighting (Kensington Palace), every-day shopping, antique stores, pubs, restaurants, and two Tube stations very close by.

This could be an endless blog post written after a holiday, but I’ll save the blah blah blah details for my mother. This post will focus on my two main goals for this trip: Get in my steps, and shop for fabric.

Step in Time

IMG_7970Our hotel’s location meant walking was an easy choice. Leave the hotel, cross at the light and you’re in the Park. Each day I got in at least 15,000 steps. But the very best day was Thursday when we not only got in our training runs (3 miles for me, 5 for G), but then we walked up the big hill at Greenwich, then from Covent Garden to Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace to the Tube station at St James’s Park. My tally for that day was 24,461 steps (his was about 28,000!). There was absolutely no guilt that night when I had not only fish & chips, but also Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding (only the best pudding/dessert ever!).

With all the walking I gained only 8/10s of a pound. Feeling quite pleased with myself 🙂

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London from the Greenwich Observatory

I didn’t lose any Pounds, I spent them!

On Tuesday I made the pilgrimage to Liberty of London. Since I only came back to sewing last summer, I hadn’t bothered with Liberty on our past visits. It was on the top of my list this year. The typical Liberty florals aren’t exactly my style, but their fabrics really are beautiful. Those Tana Lawns are so floaty and soft that they scream out for a summer dress, or a blouse at the very least. The store itself is peaceful and beautifully organized – a far cry from the pandemonium of Hancock’s close out sales here in the States. I did leave the store with one small purple bag containing a Tilly and the Buttons pattern, two meters of fabric, and a little blue mouse. The fabric was expensive, so I probably won’t use it until I’m a size I like.

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Liberty of London

We then wandered down to Berwick Street and the Cloth House, which had come highly recommended. The fabric was beautiful but nothing inspired me (loads of linens), then on to Misan which had an amazing clearance basement.  Although I could have spent hours searching the bolt ends, the long-suffering husband had just about had his fill of fabric stores and appeared to be about ready for a melt down. Note to self: next time, send him off somewhere else and shop by yourself.

Victoria & Albert Museum

On our one (yes – just one!) rainy day we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, which focuses on design and art. The V&A is always good for a clothing fix and a dose of inspiration. They did have a special exhibition on undergarments throughout the ages, but after a few hours in fabric stores the previous day, G could not be convinced to spend time looking at ancient knickers and sock garters. The regular exhibits had electronics for him and some clothing for me, which wound up being a good compromise.

I had a paper dress and kerchief just like this when I was a kid.
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Demonstrating my bootie in a hoop skirt at the V&A
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How the hoop skirt is supposed to look

Since our hotel was right by Kensington Palace I constantly passed the sign advertising the most recent exhibit,  Fashion Rules Restyled which focused on the Queen, Princess Margaret, and Diana, Princess of Wales. Although we’ve been through Kensington Palace before, I left G in the garden, paid my admission and went through on my own. It was well worth it because the garments were beautiful, and it was fun to see dresses that I recall Diana wearing.

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Princess Margaret must have been a real bombshell when she was a young woman. Her dresses were designed to show off her tiny waist and ample décolletage.

 

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This dress, designed for and worn by the Queen, was my favourite in the collection. The colour was just stunning.
Several of Diana’s dresses were featured. I have a plaid taffeta dress that my mother made for me. It was inspired by Diana’s plaids from the mid-80s.

 

One of the many designer drawings that lined the walls of the exhibit

There was some regular shopping in stores that I could afford, and I enjoyed seeing what was available. My London friend took me to Westfield at Stratford where I saw a lot of things I liked – especially in John Lewis. Maybe they have different clothes in Britain, or maybe it’s just the lighting, but I saw many things that I loved. In particular, the popover top with skirt that is really a dress. I know there are vintage patterns in a similar style, so now that’s on my list for Etsy or eBay. British stores seem to have more variety than those here in the States – you don’t see the same style in the same colours in every store. There’s actually some personality!

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I may have mentioned at some point that I became a bit obsessed with sewing again after finding the Great British Sewing Bee, and I was beyond thrilled to discover that Series 4 was premiering on BBC2 while we were in London. It was really fun to watch it on a real tv (instead of on my iPad screen), and G was even interested. I dreamt of being a contestant that night 🙂

So after our eight days I came home with this small stack of clothes, fabric and sewing magazines. But I have lots of ideas, which is what makes sewing exciting.

 

Oh – and there was this. One morning we looked out of our hotel room windows and saw this. That’s Kensington Palace in the background, and someone is heading for the helicopter. I don’t know who the passengers were, but they were surrounded by bodyguards and there were sharp shooters on each corner of the lawn. Twenty minutes later Prince William, Prince Harry and The Duchess of Cambridge were all together at an event. There wasn’t a passenger in a skirt, so I’m going to say that it was Harry (who knows – maybe it was some random Duke). Whoever it was, my royalty obsession got its fix.

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Dang but I have a good husband 🙂

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One thought on “A walk and a shop through London

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