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… ūüôā

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 Рanything 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?

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!

London All Dolled Up

One of the best things about England is how cheery everything is at Christmas. Almost every city, town, village, and hamlet gets into the season with Christmas lights along the main street. As you might imagine, London is exceptional when it comes to decorating the streets and imbuing them with a sense of coziness and festive cheer. Here are the lights on Shaftesbury Avenue near Covent Garden and the enormous Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square.

There are Christmas-y scenes across London but by far my favorite is Oxford Street and Regent Street. Every year, I try to make it out to see what they’ve done there. In the past, there have been Christmas lights strung above the streets in the shapes of stars and a 12 days of Christmas theme that extended all the way down Regent Street.

To get my fix this year, Peter and I headed out on the top floor of a double decker bus on Friday night. The bus dropped us off right at the intersection of Oxford Street and Regent Street so we got to see both!

Oxford Street has a snowball/snowflake look to it this year with hundreds of different sized globes of Christmas lights suspended over the street – so pretty!

On Regent Street, the lights are even more spectacular with garlands spanning the width of the street that extend all the way down to Piccadilly Circus. The only slight disappointment this year was that the ovals inside the lights were promoting a Ben Stiller movie. How annoying to have that instead of something more festive. Regardless, I still love the look!

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Only 4 more sleeps until Christmas!!

Defying Gravity

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On Thursday, Peter and I had a semi-impromptu date night to go see Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London. Even though I’ve been wanting to see it for a while, we only bought the tickets a few days in advance on one of those last minute ticket websites. We’ve had luck buying tickets in the least expensive band before so we opted to do the same again this time.

Little did we know how lucky we would be. When we arrived at the theater to collect¬†the tickets, the woman behind the counter spotted by “Baby on Board” pin and moved us to better seats. Instead of being in the very back, we were close to the front of the balcony section – what an amazing stroke of luck!

Before the show started, we admired the gorgeous Apollo Victoria theater. So many of London’s theaters have interesting and historic interiors and this one is no exception. The Apollo Victoria¬†was built in 1930 and has¬†a very unique¬†ceiling.¬†Here are a few pictures we snapped before the show started.

Once the musical got started, we thoroughly enjoyed it. Knowing little about the show beforehand, one of the best parts for me was the storyline and the way it played with our perceptions of the well-known classic¬†Wizard of Oz. And of course, the signature song “Defying Gravity” was another fantastic highlight! Such a great tune!