London, Day 7: Buckingham Palace, Pierrepont Arcade Market, and Tower Bridge

Last day in London. We had talked of spending a day in Oxford or Bath, but we couldn’t tear ourselves away from London. We started the day at the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace. They’re having a special exhibit on dressing the Georgians (think Queen Charlotte of Bridgerton fame). They encouraged us to take along a video guide (they’re free!) and I’m glad we did. It was very informative. Not many physical pieces of clothing, but lots of beautiful paintings from that era.

Paintings of Queen Charlotte
Clockwise from top left: Buckingham Palace. Queen Victoria Memorial. Banner announcing the exhibit. The Queen’s Gallery.

After we finished up in the gift shop (just like Disney, every palace ends with a gift shop!), we had a wonderful brunch at Timmy Green … blueberry pancakes with whipped mascarpone and a berry smoothie. Yum! Then back on the tube to the antiques market at Pierrepont Arcade in Camden Passage. We got a little lost and ended up in a charming little park before finding our way. The market was small and they didn’t have the books Bob was looking for, so we didn’t stay long and took a break from the sun at a little pub called Camden Head. It was originally built in 1899 and has some gorgeous woodwork and windows … and all the ice cold water you want. Speaking of sun, we’ve had gorgeous weather all week! Sunny and low 70’s … perfect for walking around outdoors.

After our break, we got back on the tube (super busy on the weekends!) and went to Tower Hill. A visit to London is not complete until we see the Tower Bridge. Of course you have to walk by the Tower of London to get there, but as we’ve previously done that tour and seen the crown jewels, we walked past the crowds right to the bridge.

Tower Bridge, London

Headed home to Michigan tomorrow, via a 17-hour layover in Atlanta, Georgia. Possibly Memorial Day is not the ideal time to fly …

London, Day 6: Portobello Road, Waterstones, and Fabrics Galore

We started today at Portobello Road. On Saturdays, the entire street is a big antiques market. There are tables along the street and a warren of antique shops in arcades. I found a couple tables dealing exclusively in vintage linens and laces, so I snapped up some pretty laces and trims to use in Barbie dresses. We also visited the tiny book store that was duplicated for the movie Notting Hill. You’ll be happy to know they now stock more than just travel books. Lunch was some excellent fish and chips from a pub. Then we took the tube to Piccadilly Circus to visit Waterstones, the largest book store we’ve ever been in with many floors of books. They had some excellent books on fashion … all oversized and heavy, so I passed. Then we caught a taxi to visit Fabrics Galore on Lavender Hill, where I found a large selection of cotton lawn fabric at very reasonable prices. I picked a nice selection to make some Barbie dresses. Bob says we “only” walked 4 miles, but we did a lot of standing and my feet are dead. We ordered a pizza for supper and are in for the night.

Clockwise from top left: Portobello Road. Laces and trims. Cotton lawn fabric. Piccadilly Circus.

London, Day 5: Canary Wharf, Greenwich Market, V&A, and Charing Cross Road

Yep, we’ve been all over today. We started for Greenwich Market, but had to switch from the tube to the DLR train at Canary Wharf, where we took a wrong turn and ended up in the huge shopping mall instead of the train stop. We must have looked lost, because a very nice security guard came over and offered us assistance. So what should have been a 3-minute walk from tube to train ended up taking 20 minutes or so (it’s a big mall!). But we finally arrived at Greenwich Market with its many stalls of arts, crafts, antiques, and food vendors. I definitely had fun shopping. I found a tiny little vase for Barbie and some jewelry for me. Bob had snacks.

Lunch was English fast food … meat pies with mash (mashed potatoes) at the restaurant on the corner. We couldn’t being ourselves to order eels though. We even split rhubarb crumble for dessert (served warm with ice cream – yum!)

After lunch, we walked down the road a bit and stumbled across the Greenwich Vintage Market on our way to the aptly named Junk Shop. Didn’t stay long at the Junk Shop. I was afraid to touch anything lest everything come tumbling down upon us. Then back to the train, then the tube to the Victoria & Albert museum to pick up some souvenirs before heading to Charing Cross Road to check out some used book stores. If you’ve seen the book shop Hugh Grant works at in the movie Notting Hill, that was huge compared to the postage stamp sized book shops we visited. Back at the hotel now so we can nap before supper. We have reservations at an Italian restaurant recommended by Stanley Tucci.

London, Day 4: Spitalfields, Chelsea Flower Show, Tea at the Palace, and arts and crafts at Covent Garden

Looking back, I guess we’ve done a lot today. So far, we’ve walked 6.3 miles, and we haven’t gone to dinner yet. We started out with the antique show at Spitalfields. I picked up a some floral embroidered ribbon inserts that were included with Virginia tobacco years ago. I’m thinking I’ll find a way to incorporate them in to Barbie clothes.

Spitalfields market. Floral embroidered tobacco inserts at bottom right

Next, we took the tube to the Chelsea. The famous flower show is going on now. Tickets are super expensive, but I’d read there were some nice outdoor floral arrangements in the area that you could see for free.

My Fair Lady in flowers
Flowers seen around Chelsea, including a Jurassic Park dinosaur with legs coming out his mouth, and a huge floral necklace at Tiffany.

We headed back to Kensington Palace mid afternoon for tea, in the pavilion adjacent to the palace. The sandwiches were delightful, the scones melted in our mouths, and the desserts were ever so fancy.

Then it was back to the Apple Market at Covent Garden for the arts and crafts show. I bought a beautiful 3-D Karrie Barron card. Her husband told us she’s been making the cards for 20 years and clients include royalty. We also listened to a lively string quartet.

The Apple Market at Covent Garden, the Katie Barron card I purchased, and the string quartet.

London, Day 3: Harrods and Kensington Palace

We started the morning at Harrods. My favorite part was this Dior display of miniature versions of classic Dior fashions in a rainbow of colors. Too bad they aren’t quite Barbie size, and not for sale.

Dior display at Harrods
I think Barbie needs this dress. Might have to make a pattern …

We then swung through the children’s section on the way to the toy department. Who knew that so many designers (Givenchy, Burberry, Moschino, and many more) also designed children’s clothing? And who can afford them? Last time we were in London, the toy department had a huge Barbie section with lots of Silkstone Barbies and other Signature dolls. This time, it was mostly play line dolls. We did find an electric BMW convertible for kids, complete with a leather seat and bluetooth speakers.

After lunch we headed to Kensington Palace to view the Crown to Couture exhibit. It was more couture than crown, spread over a warren of smallish rooms on two floors. I think it would have been nicer to view at one of the palaces with larger rooms, like Windsor or Buckingham Palace.

Many fashion

It was a full day. Walked over 5 miles and countless flights of stairs. Feet are up now. More tomorrow.

London, baby!

If you’ve noticed that my Etsy shop only has digital items at the moment, it’s because I’m on vacation in London. (But I am running a sale on all my sewing patterns while I’m away.)

We arrived at Heathrow yesterday morning around 6:30am. We took the tube to London and were able to check into our hotel right away. After ditching our luggage and grabbing some breakfast, we headed to Covent Garden for some antiquing and gelato. Then we hit the Victoria and Albert Museum, bought a few groceries, and came back to the hotel for a light lunch and a nap. Then we stayed in for a light supper and some relaxation.

The flowers outside Covent Garden were lovely.

Today, we walked from our hotel to Garden Lodge, Freddie Mercury’s house. Not that you can see the house … more like the brick wall (with razor wire) around the house. But now my husband can say he’s been there. We also walked by Alfred Hitchcock’s house.

Garden Lodge, Freddie Mercury’s house

Then we were off to the Imperial War Museum to see the World War II and Holocaust exhibits. The museum has a gorgeous rose garden surrounding the big guns in the front, as well as a piece of the Berlin wall. The exhibits were very well done … we spent several hours there.

The Imperial War Museum, a piece of the Berlin wall, and some gorgeous roses.

We took the tube to Oxford Circus, where the flags were still flying over all the streets from the coronation earlier this month.

Then we headed to my favorite store, Liberty. The 4th floor is where you find bolts and bolts of gorgeous tana lawn fabric in their exclusive prints. I circled the room twice before I picked out the fabrics I wanted to purchase. Many of their prints are also available in silk … for £65 a meter (gulp).

Liberty of London tana lawn fabric
My selection of Liberty fabrics. Barbie’s going to need some new dresses. I got two colorations of the London scenes. Sorry the color is not great in the photo … hotel room lighting.

Our feet were complaining, but we kept going. Our next stop was the flagship Cath Kidston store, which is going out of business. Cath Kidston is kind of the UK version of Vera Bradley in the US. Would have bought some of their housewares, but they don’t exactly fit in my little carryon bag, so I settled for a couple flat tote bags in pretty prints. On our way back to the tube station, we stopped at Fortnum & Mason, a luxury grocery store with extraordinary food. We just walked around on the main level, stocked with sweets, chocolates, teas, and more. The place was packed with people! We did a quick circle and then left. Maybe another day. Dinner was a steak restaurant known for having chocolate fed beef. Yes, you read that right. They feed the cattle grass and chocolate. Apparently, it makes for a sweeter meat. We ordered one to share, only to be told they had run out. So we got a normal steak instead.

At the end of the day, my husband’s Apple watch said we walked over 5 miles and climbed 15 flights of stairs. Tomorrow, we’re heading to Kensington Palace. Stay tuned.

Blushing Debutante

While I was at the Grant A Wish Barbie Convention last month, I was asked if I’d be willing to donate an OOAK doll to the charity auction for the Rome fashion doll convention this fall. (Wouldn’t it be nice to go to Rome? Alas, I don’t have those dates available this year.) The theme is something to do with debutantes, so I wanted to make a sweet dress befitting a teenage girl. I made the dress from shadow Chantilly lace layered over blush pink silk tissue taffeta. To bring out the black detail in the lace, I added black ribbon along the ruched seam lines and lots of bows. And of course she needed long gloves, a demure hat, and some spectacular jewelry. Before I box her up and get her in the mail, I thought I’d share her photo. Like the necklace? You can special order it in multiple colors from the Etsy shop, DollJewelsbyApril.