Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Day 1 in London : Tea at Fortnum & Mason

Thank-you to everyone for you kind comments about my previous post which featured my favourite pictures from our time in London. I enjoy reading and replying to each and every one!

As promised, here is a post with several pictures from our visit to the famous department store, Fortnum and Mason.
After our 7 hour flight, we travelled to our hotel, took a quick nap and then headed out to see what all the F&M fuss was about!

Upon arriving at the main entrance to the store, we saw these gorgeous faces above the door. I knew then and there we were really going to like this place!


We decided in order to see the whole store, we'd start at the bottom and work our way up. The spiral staircase leading to the basement (if you can call it that!), gave a breath-taking view of the floral department. Down here you could also buy wine and fine fresh foods like cheese and smoked meat.  They also had very pricey takeaway food that lots of people seem to be buying regardless of its cost!

Climbing back up to the ground floor, also know as the Food Hall, we gazed at the most scrumptious chocolates and candy (a lot of it being sold for Mother's Day the next day) as well as many Easter delights.  

Artistically decorated cookies always catch our eye (because this is a decorating skill that neither Afton nor I have!) and we found these spring biscuits particularly cute - and fun to play with!!

Up another flight of stairs took us to Women's Accessories where we could purchase the most beautiful kid-leather gloves, silken scarves or hats and fascinators perfect for a summer wedding.  
This was our favourite:  

After all of this shopping and climbing, Afton insisted on a break mid-way up.  I am sure it was just the overnight flight making her tired but it was a good excuse to survey the architecture in this lovely old building.  

Next stop -- Homewares.  
Tea-towels, pots and pans, cookbooks, small appliances - you name it and need it for your home - it was here!
However, as usual, my favourite section was the china and dinnerware.  
I could have bought a ton of things, but I stuck with a couple of pieces by Emma Bridgewater that were the perfect momentos of our time at F&M and England.

And at the top of the building: The Jubilee Tea Rooms.

I booked our high tea experience months in advance  and I was glad I did.  Being Mother's Day weekend, the Tea Room was booked solid with reservations every 90 minutes all weekend long. 

Here, like every room in the store,  we were greeted by huge vases of fresh flowers.  They looked and smelled glorious!

We were seated quickly and enjoyed the sounds of a live singer/pianist who jauntily gave us renditions of old classics like "Michelle" and "The Way You Look Tonight."

Isn't the menu pretty? The whole Tea Room is decorated with this pretty shade of teal green. The tea pots and all of the tableware are this hue as well. The menu went with the theme perfectly. 

It was Afton who noticed the one "non-teal" thing in the room - these pretty pink and peach tulips in the middle of the table. Coincidentally, they matched perfectly with the flowery dress she had chosen for the occasion!

Both Afton and I opted for the "Sweet Afternoon Tea."
This maximized the amount of baked goods we would receive.  Otherwise we could have chosen a "Savoury Tea" where some of the sugary goodies are replaced by quiches and herbed scones.  Afton's high tea was child-sized and cost half of what the grown-up version does. If she wasn't a tea drinker, she could have had freshly squeezed juice or a glass of milk.  

But both of us being tea lovers we each of us chose a flavour of tea. I had Countess Grey made especially for F&M  and she chose a  Strawberry Black tea.

So what goodies did we receive? Here's a list:
-tea sandwiches (5 for me, 3 for her) 
- scones (2 for me, 1 for her) with two kinds of jam and clotted cream 
- dainty desserts (see below - mine on the left, hers on the right)

Truth be told... Even with all of those yummy bit and bites to enjoy, my favourite part of the whole service was the scones. 
 Look at that clotted cream! And that blueberry jam was to die for!!

After consuming all but 3 of the dainty sweets, Afton and I were full and completely satisfied.  
I asked our server ( a lovely Australian woman) for our bill.  
She laughed and said, "You aren't done yet.  There's another whole course of food yet to eat!!"

Yes indeed.  We still had to choose a slice of cake off of the cake server nearby to finish off our meal.  

We opted to have it packaged up to take with us.  I picked a pear and almond Victoria Sponge and Afton chose a slice of Battenberg cake. They looked delish, but there was no way we could eat it that night!
(You want to know when we DID eat it?  
The next morning at the Earl's Court tube station, waiting for the underground. We got a few funny looks from people passing by, but we didn't care.  Those cakes were darn delicious!!)

By the time we left the store, evening was falling and the street and store lights were coming on.  The building looked even more elegant in the light of the setting sun.  

Would we recommend tea at F&M??  Absolutely.  It's not cheap, but it is the perfect way to celebrate a special event or to just have some quiet time together with a loved one.  

Afton gives it a big "thumbs-up," too. The Tea Room was definitely a child-friendly place in terms of environment and food choices.  

Do you want to hear about more of our London adventures?  Good because next time I'll share a few pictures from our day out in Salisbury.

Hugs to all,


Sunday, March 22, 2015

We're Back! : A Few of my Favourite Shots from London

My daughter and I returned from London on Friday evening.  Even though we had a marvelous 8 days in London it was wonderful to get home to Kevin and the boys whom we missed so much!
I took a ton of pictures (as you probably guessed I would!) and I would love to show you them all.
  But today I have just picked a smattering of my favourites from each day in hopes that you will return several times over the next few weeks and see more of our journey in detail thanks to the 500+ photos I took!
From here on in I will keep the text to a minimum so that you can enjoy the pictures.  Many speak for themselves!

High Tea at Fortnum & Mason

Blossoms and bricks in "The Close" in Salisbury
Salisbury Cathedral as viewed from the cloisters
Windows in Salisbury Cathedral


More blossoms in The Close
Big Ben and Little Afton

The Tower of London on a grey and gloomy day

Tower Bridge viewed from the Tower of London
The main entrance hall of the Natural History Museum
Riding into the core of the earth in the Natural History Museum

Some of the dolphin and whale display at the N H M
The flowers outside Liberty of London

A  piano turned spring flower planter on Drury Lane

Enjoying the daffodils while exploring Notting Hill

Blossoms outside our Kensington Hotel
Original Roman walls near the Tower of London

St. Paul's in the springtime
Afternoon tea at Bea's of Bloomsbury
Gorgeous tulips for sale at Columbia Road Flower Market

As you can see, we filled our days with a variety of adventures.  We've already begun reminiscing about our days away knowing that we've created some amazing mother/daughter memories.

Come back soon.  I have so much more to share from our adventures. 

 First up - our afternoon at Fortnum & Mason.

Hugs to all,

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

London - Here We Come!!

My daughter and I are off on an 8-day trip to London. 
 She has never been and I can't wait to show her around my favourite city!
We are looking forward to seeing the sights of London and taking a few train rides out of town to nearby cities. 
I'm sure I'll have lots of stories and pictures to share upon our return!
Hugs to all,

Friday, March 6, 2015

Five on Friday: Photos from my Phone

The weekend is almost here - it's Friday after all!  The weather here in the Toronto area is on the up and up and the weatherman is calling for temperatures of +3 degrees Celcius  over the next few days.  Woohoo! The kids can't wait to get outside and enjoy the "warmth" and the sunshine!
Before the weekend begins, I want to take part in Amy's linky party that she hosts over on her blog, Love Made My Home.
Here are five pictures from my phone that captured some happy moments during my week. (If you are an Instagram follower, you might have seen a few of these already!)
 Number One : We love visiting the Art Gallery that is attached to our local library.  There seems to be new things to see each time we pop in. 
These colourful canvases were created by a local artist.  The long skinny "stick art" can be purchased one stick at a time.  I joked with hubby that I'd like 3 of them for my birthday.  I guess I'll wait a few months and see if he obliges me!

Number Two: This is the "pepper wall" at the new  grocery store near our home.  Is it weird that I adore it and could stand and stare at it for hours?  (I also feel extremely guilty choosing a pepper to buy.  I feel like I am removing part of the "art!")  Do other stores have pepper walls?  Or is it just mine? Hmmm....

Number Three: My daughter and I leave on our UK vacation in 6 days. (Woohoo!)  I've been out shopping, gathering up the last few things we need.
 While out on the town with my sister the other day, I managed to check 2 more things off of my list - a over the shoulder bag with tons of pockets and a scarf to match my red polka-dotted jacket.  Do you think I will look chic enough for London?

Number Four:  Packing is hard - yet fun, too.  I HATE when I overpack so this time I want to be very careful to only bring what I need on this trip.  Why lug extra weight when it can be avoided??!!  I've been planning my outfits - usually a shell of some kind and a jacket/cardigan over top. English weather can be unpredictable so I figure layers are best. I took pictures of each outfit so I know what goes together each of the 8 days we are away.  I hope I can be clean and tidy throughout the trip too.  I am only packing 5 outfits so I need to re-wear a few throughout the week!

Number Five: My daughter and I have been "practising" our tea etiquette.  We've booked into the Jubilee Tea Room at Fortnum and Mason for High Tea one of the first days we are in London.  As lovely as this pot of homemade Orange Pekoe and Ginger biscuits were, I know that F&M will be the best tea experience we ever have!
So glad that you were able to come visit my little part of blogland today. Please leave me a comment and let me know you have popped by.  I'll be sure to reply to each and every little note you leave!
Happy Weekend!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

An Afternoon with the Ancient Egyptians

Littlest dude is best behaved when he is one-on-one with any grown-up.  Otherwise, as the youngest of three, he's always searching for ways to get attention and let's just say, they are not always "positive" behaviours that are used to catch mommy or daddy's eye!
Now actually, I should clarify. In fact, Camden is pretty darn cute one on one.  He loves a good old hand-hold, a warm "huggle" (hug/cuddle) and some tasty snack-sharing.  So when he asked if we could have a simple mom and son discovery date, I jumped at the occasion.  And I knew just the place to take him!
How does ancient Egypt sound??
Yep.  He was into that!

We drove about 45 minutes to a nearby city where the local children's museum, simply called "The Museum", was displaying several items from the Royal Ontario Museum's collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts .
Upon entering the museum, we were greeted by the hot sun of the African desert:
As we journeyed through the displays, we met many of the Egyptians gods and kings including this stone statue of Rameses (c.1250BC)  as a boy being watched over by Horus, the falcon god.
 Horus was said to be the god of the sky, and  was considered to be he holder of the sun and moon. The Egyptians believed that the sun was his right eye and the moon his left, and that they crossed the sky each day when he, a falcon, flew across it.

Camden has a fascination for all things "golden" and would list "sparkly gold" as his favourite colour.  Needless to say, these masks of gold were amongst his favourite items at the museum.  

After seeing a few full-sized sarcophagi, Camden was intrigued by the small size of these particular coffins.
"Are these toy coffins, Mommy?"
"No, Cam.  These boxes are for young babies who died during the time of the pharoahs. Back then, it was quite common for babies to die from sicknesses that we can easily take care of now. "
"Wow, Mommy! I am so glad I live TODAY in CANADA!"

Hieroglyphics have always fascinated me.  Of course, I can't read them(!), but the images speak so clearly of a time long past.

Camden was intrigued by the circular necklaces that everyone wore in all of the paintings that were decorating the museum. 
"Would they be heavy, Mom?"
"For sure, Camden- and likely made of pure gold."

And sure enough, right around the corner, we came across this golden necklace made of thousands of golden coins strung together in heavy circlets. 

And how about a VERY early version of Matryoshka dolls?
The body went inside the smallest box, then it was fitted into 3 more successive boxes before it was laid inside a pharaoh's tomb. 

Recognize this guy?  His face is the most famous one ever found in a tomb!

The intricacy of this painting and inlay is amazing.   The ancient artist must have worked for months fashioning these items made especially for the after-world.

A traditional Egyptian image shows the head and lower body viewed from the side, with the eye and upper body viewed from the front.
At first look, the figures drawn by the Ancient Egyptians may seem wooden and flat, demonstrating very little  understanding of the human form.
However, you need only look at their sculptures to realize that this is not the case. Their drawings are simplified images which show spirit of the character that they depict, and are quite really quite sophisticated images.

And here's my little Egyptian!
At first he refused to become a cute little Nefertari, but eventually he came around!
And I got in the game, too. 
I guess you can consider this one of the first selfies, shot nearly 3000 years ago!!

I hope enjoyed coming along on our museum visit today. 
Camden and I already planning a return trip for early May because by then, the Egyptians will have moved on and a slew of dinosaurs are dropping by!!
Can't wait!