Monday, October 21, 2013

London! Part One

Tea at Browns Hotel

Arriving in London in the late afternoon makes for an easy transition. After unpacking, you can fortify yourself with a cup of tea. And then the best thing to do is take a walk, which feels really good after 11 hours on a plane!

Any walk around London includes a tour of some gorgeous doors. Don't you love the colors? And the elegant hardware?

I love a red front door

Everywhere you look are the blue plaques that indicate the homes of famous residents of London. They are a constant reminder that you are walking in the footsteps of some of the greatest figures in British history. For me they are symbols of the history that is everywhere in London.

After an invigorating walk, the only thing left to do was have dinner before retiring for the night. Fortunately our first dinner in London included Sticky Toffee Pudding, a very sweet ending to our first day!


The next day was our first full one and we began at the Charles Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty Street.  I was looking forward to seeing what they had done to this house since I was there last. The museum, which has been in operation since 1925, has had a face lift -- a three-year, $5 million restoration and refurbishment of the house. It reopened last year. The goal was to make it look more like a house than a museum. It is Dickens' only surviving London home. He resided there from 1837-1839 and it is the home where he wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. He moved in when he was a young man with his new wife Catherine and their first child. It is the house he lived in when he became famous under his own name, after dropping the pseudonym "Boz." 

The rooms had been previously unfurnished and now are filled with the furniture and accessories of the time. They evoke the Victorian age and the spirit of Dickens.

The dining room, where he entertained his friends. It features the original sideboard and a portrait of the 25-year old author.

A set of bars from Marshalsea Prison

But for me the most poignant detail in this house are these bars from Marshalsea Prison where Dickens' father was imprisoned for debt. The whole family lived there for a period of time. Dickens was sent out to work as a child in a boot-blacking factory. This experience clouded the rest of his life and affected everything he wrote. The bars are located on the top floor of the house.

Piccadilly Street

Then it was off to St. James and Piccadilly, one of my favorite neighborhoods in London. The Royal Academy of Arts and the Burlington Arcade are located there, as well as two of my favorite stores.

Hatchards, the oldest bookstore in London

I could spend hours at Hatchards! I bought so many good books this time (which I will tell you about on another blog post!) and could barely tear myself away.

They do an amazing job curating these books. Look at this table. You had me at "An indulgence..."

A closer look...

And then there is the Agatha Christie table...

And the Churchill section...I could go on and on
This store is a veritable feast of everything I love

However, once I pulled myself away, there was another treasure trove next door.

Fortnum and Mason, the world-famous food purveyor

Talk about eye-candy, this store has everything for the cook and homebody

They are famous for their hampers

Their selection of teas


Holiday displays, here is the Halloween table

And china. I was searching for something very specific --  Burleigh pottery. This company has been making ceramic ware with traditional English designs since 1851 in Staffordshire. I wanted to buy a tea pot with matching cups and saucers. I chose the blue and white Celeste pattern and I cannot wait to use it at home!

St. Paul's Cathedral

Next we toured St. Paul's Cathedral where I hadn't been for a a very long time. It was thrilling to hear the story of its design by Christopher Wren, its significance to London throughout the years, and all the famous events that have happened there, including the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.


 The Hurlingham Club

The following day I had a very exciting date to have tea with a new friend. Sarah Berry is an interior designer working in London. She and I have been friends through our blogs and when she heard I was coming to London, she invited me to have tea with her at the Hurlingham Club. When I pulled up in my taxi, I could hardly believe how beautiful it was!

She gave me a tour of the grounds

And then we had tea. We had the most delightful time. Check out Sarah's website to see her work. She is a talented interior designer and has written many design articles for The Lady magazine. She also adores London and gave me some great tips on what to do and where to eat.  (Thank you, Sarah, for Colbert restaurant. And also for encouraging me to go to Kensington Palace) I am so happy to have a new friend in London! She has promised to visit me when she comes to Los Angeles. We talked for hours and could have gone on for longer, but I had a date with my husband to attend a 4:00 pm performance of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap...


  1. Sunday you have gorgeous skin! And look so youthful, vibrant and healthy!
    I love a bookstore and have read the Perfume Collector which is smack dab in the middle of that book display. I can recommend it....what book can you suggest?

    1. Leslie, thank you! I appreciate the tip about the Perfume Collector. I will be sure to get it. While I was gone I read Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell. I loved it! It's a little bit Downton Abbey and Sabrina rolled into one. And very funny!
      xx Sunday

  2. The very second I cast my eyes on that display of books at Hatchards I ridiculously began choosing a few to take up to the cash register! Thanks so much for making me feel as though I was right there - looking forward to more snaps of your trip, Sunday!

  3. So enjoyful this post Sunday! Absolutely interesting with eye catching and pretty photos.I've been to London last Christmas and I still have all these images alive in my head!You have been really lucky to have a friend who lives there,an interior designer!!!
    Until next post, bye!!!

  4. Looks like you had a wonderful time! I really enjoyed seeing these pictures and am looking forward to hearing about your book purchases.

  5. Thank you for giving us a tour of your trip! That sticky toffee pudding, those beautiful book tables at Hatchards and the stately Hurlingham Club would definitely be highlights for me. I look forward to reading more about your travels.

  6. A virtual feast for the senses, Sunday. I can only imagine the reality of being and seeing and doing. Thank you so much for sharing - and looking forward to part 2.

  7. How exciting. Feels like I'm there. Keep snapping and and sharing please.

  8. Sunday, your photos really do capture your adventures through London. Thanks for sharing. I can't wait for more.

  9. I love the idea of a 4pm date to attend the theatre ~ A civilized time and I wouldn't fall asleep! Your trip looks amazing, just wonderful. I love the china pattern you chose.

  10. Just the world's best city! How marvelous you were there.
    Isn't Colbert wonderful?? It's just round the corner from where we always stay.
    Oh, this just makes me want to go straight back!
    Can't wait to read more.

  11. London is my favorite city.....I have soaked up your joy, every word......smiles!

  12. Sunday, I remember having tea at Brown's Hotel far too many years ago. Your trip sounds amazing. I couldn't have left the book shop empty handed. The display is amazing. I keep going back to check out the titles. A beautiful tea pot and books...the perfect treasures to bring home.

  13. Sunday, I love seeing London through you eyes! So many wonderful adventures, book stores and museums to see not to mention tasty treats to eat. I love your new tea pot! I am sure it will be a wonderful reminder of your trip on a cool winter afternoon.

    I cannot wait to see more.

    P.S How wonderful to meet Sara. I follow here blog which I found through you.

  14. Sunday, I just saw the comment I left when you originally posted this must not have saved! What a lovely post, it's so lovely to see London through your eyes and I'm so glad you had a nice trip and enjoyed Hurlingham and Colbert. I LOVED meeting you, and really hope to see you soon in LA!