What’s the Latest with the BBAL?

As I mentioned in my last post, Peter and I have stopped making any commitments until the little one is born. We’re just going to take it easy from here on out and plan things as and when we feel like it.

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I’m not ready to say today’s status is the final update on the BBAL, though. Depending on how long we end up waiting, we might be able to sneak a few more in!

So how are we coming along? Here’s the latest…

  • Done and dusted
    • Go apple picking
    • Attend a concert at St Martin in the Fields
    • Have German food and (non-alcoholic) beer at Katzenjammers bavarian bierkeller
    • Prepare my garden allotment for the winter
    • Eat at the Portrait Restaurant above the National Portrait Gallery
    • See exhibit at the V&A Museum: Wedding Dresses 1775 – 2014
    • Carve pumpkins for Halloween
    • Go to an NFL game in London
    • Attend a taping of a TV show
    • Visit the British Museum
    • Host an Autumn gathering for friends
    • Shop at Junior League’s Boutique de Noel fundraiser
    • Visit the US
    • Volunteer with Junior League of London
    • See Wicked
    • Get a fresh Christmas tree
    • Enjoy the Christmas lights on Regent Street
    • Sing Christmas carols somewhere festive (did ‘Light up the Palace’ instead)
    • Visit the Kensington Roof Gardens
    • See exhibit at the V&A Museum: Horst Photographer of Style
    • Visit Cheddar caves in Cheddar, England
    • Go on a ghost tour at Hampton Court Palace
  • Not in the cards
    • Celebrate Guy Fawkes Day/ Bonfire Night
    • Host a pre-Christmas gathering for friends
  • Still to come…??
    • Go up the Shard or eat in one of the restaurants
    • See more musicals — Mathilda, Lion King
    • See ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’
    • See a film at the historic Phoenix Cinema
    • Have another day at the races
    • Stargaze at the Hampstead Scientific Society Observatory
    • Eat at the UK’s oldest Indian Restaurant, Veeraswamy
    • Go to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral
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Spooky… Scary… Ghosts at Hampton Court Palace

Welcome to February! We’re now T-18 days until our little one’s due date. Will she be on time? Early? Late? I’m such a planner that it still feels strange to me that we won’t know until we know. And they say there aren’t many surprises left in life… 🙂

With the due date fast approaching, Peter and I have stopped making any commitments for the next several weeks. In fact, this weekend we finished up the last of our plans by having lunch with our friends this afternoon and by going on the ghost tour at Hampton Court Palace on Friday night.

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As you know, the ghost tour has been on my list for a while. I tried to get tickets back in November but it was extremely popular so the earliest we could get was for the end of January. Not ideal to be walking around for 2 hours at 37 weeks pregnant but I managed – anything for the ghosts!

But enough about me… the tour itself was excellent. It started in the courtyard of the palace and went to various rooms and locations where ghosts had supposedly been spotted. The lighting throughout the tour was dim and atmospheric, so you really felt as though you were getting a unique view of the palace. Also, the stories were all interesting. They spanned decades and were linked to various people who lived and died in the palace over the centuries.

At one point in the tour, they showed supposed video evidence of a ghost caught on tape by a security camera. Here’s the video so you can judge for yourself. What do you think? Is it real or a hoax?

Staying Gorge-ous

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Peter and I did a “last hurrah” weekend before the baby comes and headed off to Cheddar, England yesterday. Cheddar is a village in the county of Somerset that is famous for giving its name to one of my faves — cheddar cheese! Besides being the home of delicious cheese, Cheddar also boasts a magnificent gorge and several caves/caverns that are fun to explore.

We rolled into Cheddar around lunchtime yesterday and immediately found a restaurant that I could sample some of the local offerings. After a cheese-filled meal, we waddled our way past some adorable shops and tea houses up to the tourist office and bought tickets for a walk along the gorge and the caves.

The walk was a 3 mile circuit and started with a 274 step staircase up to the top of the hill. Luckily it had plenty of resting points along the way up the staircase because I was huffing and puffing the whole time!

At the top, there was a viewing tower and a path leading further up the hill. We decided to walk for as long as I felt I could which in the end was only about 1/2 a mile but it was just enough for us to see some beautiful views and take some obligatory “bump” pictures.

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On the way back down, we went up the tower for another vantage point of the lovely valley below. Then it was time to head off to the caverns. We went to Gough cave which was found/excavated in the early 1900s by a local man named Richard Gough. Within the cave, they discovered the skeleton of a man from the Mesolithic period, which is the oldest complete human skeleton in Britain.

Gough’s Cave has lots of pools of water and naturally formed crevices. The cave is also used for storing and maturing cheddar cheese — so cool.

After our tour, I was ready for some relaxation so we strolled back through the village, bought some of the cheese that is matured inside of the caves, and drove off through Cheddar Gorge to our lovely hotel. More on our stay there for another day!

Seeking Out Style

Last weekend, I finally made it to see the Horst: Photographer of Style exhibit at the V&A museum. Although I’ve been wanting to go for months, I ended up going on the very last day of the exhibit. In fact, I actually waited so long to buy a ticket that I couldn’t do it online and had to show up the museum hoping there were still some left. I’m never this disorganized!

Eek – hope there are tickets left!

Luckily, there were immediate tickets available so I could waltz right in and start enjoying the gorgeous pictures.

For those who aren’t familiar with Horst, I’m guessing a little background information may be in order… The exhibit was of images from photographer Horst P. Horst’s 60 year career. Having worked with Vogue in Paris and New York for a number of years, he is best known for his photographs of women and fashion. However, the breadth of his work includes still life, nudes, interior architecture, and nature photographs. The exhibit explanation on V&A’s website gives a good overview of his many areas of talent and what was covered in the exhibit.

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I absolutely love the glamour of the 1930s and 1940s and couldn’t wait to see beautiful images taken by such an influential and pivotal photographer of that era. The exhibit did not disappoint where that was concerned. The first room was completely devoted to images taken in the 1930s (many for Vogue) and even included original haute couture gowns from that era. Gah – I was in love and so envious of those times! If only I had infinite wealth and attended 1930s dinner parties every evening…

The rest of the exhibit was just as interesting. There were entire sections for photographs of movie stars, nudes, still life, interiors, nature, travel, and covers of Vogue magazines! Unfortunately I couldn’t take any pictures in the exhibit but I did try to snap a few in the museum shop afterward. All of the pictures in this post were taken outside of the exhibit, mostly of the merchandise promoting the exhibit. Yes, the real thing was better but you can at least get an idea of how gorgeous these pictures were!

I left the Horst exhibit grinning ear to ear and inspired to infuse a little glamour back into my life. Then I passed this adorable scene of ice skating next to the Natural History Museum and my day was made. Gosh it feels good to go into the “big city” sometimes!

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Checking out the Roof Gardens

Who visits a garden in the winter? Apparently I do! Peter and I visited the Kensington Roof Gardens today for the first time. Yup, right in the dead of the winter. Although the weather was dismal and nothing is in bloom this time of year, we actually enjoyed checking out the area and loved the novelty of a rooftop garden.

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The gardens are on the 6th floor rooftop of a large building on Kensington High Street in London. They two took years to build and were opened to the public in 1938. Apparently, there are still seven trees left from the original planting back in the 1930s. When the gardens were opened, a shilling was charged for entry and the fees were donated to charity. Now, the area is owned by Sir Richard Branson and the gardens are free to enter.

As you’d imagine, we were the only ones strolling around the gardens today so we could take our time. There are three separate areas to the garden — the Spanish Garden, the Tudor Garden, and the English Woodland.

The first area you encounter upon entry is the Spanish Garden which is the most dramatic. There’s a terraced seating area that looks perfect for having a summer cocktail while looking out across the garden and people watching.

To the left of the Spanish Garden is the Tudor area. Unfortunately most of this looked blocked off for an event but we did see the tudor inspired arches.

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Around the corner was the English Woodland garden. This area included a small stream, several bridges, and four flamingos!

Although it was great to have our own private viewing today and I can’t wait to come back in the summer sometime and have a drink or two in this beautiful area!