London Calling! My husband and I are lucky enough to have family all over the world: Venezuela, Israel, England, France, Spain, Morocco, Canada, and more. We’re a veritable Model UN of relatives. Our goddaughter happens to live in London, and we delight in getting to visit her yearly. Because of timing, and an overbooked year, it turned out that we only had time for a weekend jaunt to the sweet Thames.

A Weekend London Visit(top left) What would a trip to the UK be without some Fish & Chips, malt vinegar, and mushy peas? (bottom left) While passing Buckingham Palace, the queen was in residence and all the pomp and circumstance was on full display.

We “fooled time” and were able to see The Tate Modern, The National Gallery, The Globe, Borough Market, The Golden Hinde (Sir Francis Drake’s pirate galleon), have dinner at sketch Sketch (délicieux!) and even spent a ton of quality time with our family. Even stranger? This was my first time in London without rain! The skies were as blue as can be, the weather was almost tropical, and it felt like a tropical island.

A Weekend London Visit(top left) The George Inn has been around since 1677 and is said to have hosted both Dickens and Shakespeare for meals, (top right) At the Royal Academy someone placed a beautiful, fresh wreath around the stature in the middle of the square, (bottom left) Oh the classic, red Telephone Booth! Many have now become libraries and wifi stations, how cool. (bottom right) The famous Shard, also referred to as the Shard of Glass,  is an 87-story skyscraper in the London Bridge Quarter.
A Weekend London Visit (top left) St. James’s Square is the only square in the exclusive St James’s district of the City of Westminster. It has predominantly Georgian and neo-Georgian architecture and a private garden in the center. In the garden we found amazing burnt wood and bronze sculpture by Aron Demetz. (top right) No summer trip to London is complete without a Pimm’s and Lemonade. The historical drink has become synonymous with British festivals, weddings, and sporting events – especially the tennis at Wimbledon. So refreshing.

 A colleague’s boyfriend who has been living abroad in the UK for a few years also sent me these wonderful suggestions. Yay for expats. 
  • For brunch or a pub dinnerThe Grazing Goat in Marylebone near Marble Arch.  I used to live nearby and went very often.  It’s especially good with nice weather because you can sit outside on a quiet street.
  • If you’re touristing around in central London, I can say that most pubs that you pop into for lunch would be pretty good and will serve things appealing to kids – fish and chips, pies, burgers.  Also, I think a lot of people go to some of the nicer chains like Cafe Rouge (French), Leon (Fresh Fast Food), Byron (Burgers) and Carluccio’s (Italian) – it’s all very consistent food, not horribly expensive.
  • Tayyabs – very authentic Punjabi cuisine with an accessible atmosphere.  Service is curt but they can help suggest orders.  If you want beer to cool down the Indian food, pick it up at a convenience store on the high street before you get to the restaurant.  They don’t serve alcohol and the street the restaurant is on doesn’t have anywhere to buy.

G-d Save the Queen!

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Tea for Two & Two for Tea

A tea garden, also know as a “pleasure’ garden” (not to be confused with ‘the garden of earthy delights’ or ‘midnight in the garden of good and evil’) was a particular type of lawn and horticulture that flourished in the 18th century. Tea gardens were actually designed specifically for the drinking of tea, strolling, and conversation. The two most famous tea gardens left in the UK (this practice lost its luster after World War II) are The Orchard in Grantchester near Cambridge, and Yorkshire Stingo in Marylebone, London. Tea gardens were public recreational parks that became extremely popular during the Victorian era, these are not to be confused with Roman or Japanese tea gardens which have their own unique traditions and chosen shrubs. Personally, I like my tea with some ornate topiaries ala the gardens of Versailles.

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In America all students are taught of the revolt of the Boston Tea Party, however taxation on teas seems to have been causing problems since time immemorial (or at least since the advent of government). The herb plants that are found in most tea gardens have a connection to the past. When the British government taxed tea for export to the New World, the colonists turned to herbs to make tea. To this day, tea is the post popular drink in the world! Common plants for one’s tea garden include mint, bergamot, lemon balm, rosemary, sage, hyssop, agrimony, alfalfa, and geraniums (really a tea garden’s plants should be ANY shrub, bush, weed, or herb that can be used in the creation of herbal teas and remedies).

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A tea garden’s colors are the perfect palette for a spring themed room – verdant greens, gentle pinks, ecru flower petals, and soft lavenders delight a viewer by transporting one to the bygone days of prudish and proper etiquette. Oh to live in a faded and rustic pastoral afternoon!

Bring the English country garden into your home with rose-patterned fabric and wallpaper in pastel shades. Everything should be dainty, dusty, and just a bit distressed! From the May 2010 issue of Homes and Antiques.

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