Friday, June 29, 2012

The Queen of Idaho's Royal Visit

Well the Queen of Idaho has come and gone. We had a wonderful visit filled with loads of laughs, love and RAIN! I literally planned every second of our 10 days and Gig was a trooper and kept on truckin'! While maintaining a balance of getting Gig to some London touristy spots and letting her experience our "new" life in the UK was tricky, we all made it through with flying colors! Gig was able to check out Twyford, walk the kids to school, take a train by herself from Windsor back to Twyford, cook in our crappy kitchen, sit shotgun while I drove (and not get queasy), check out Costco (shhh...don't tell) and see Kennsington Palace, go the Cotswolds, check out Blenheim Palace, shop at the designer outlet mall, ride the London Eye and see The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre! I got tired just writing all that! She is truly a STUD!
Her RH arrives at Heathrow!

Hiking in the Cotswolds with Zulu (our borrowed lab from the B&B)
We had a wonderful time in the Cotswolds. While we made a quick stop at the Bicester Village (designer outlet shops...yay!) in the pelting rain and wind, we arrived at our B & B in Broadway just in time for dinner and drinks. The Olive Branch was lovely, quiet and quaint. We especially enjoyed the Black Lab named Zulu who was always ready to play, be pet and go on a hike with us!

On Saturday morning I lead the troops on a Death March up to Broadway Tower. It was a short hike until I pulled my typical "oh let's just go around and do a loop and take a different way home" trick. I think they are on to me...90 minutes later, after bushwacking through nettles and climbing over sheep fences, we made it to the 13th century church I had promised to show them! We proceeded to check out Stow-on-the-Wold which is a charming, yet touristy, Cotswold town. I have found all Cotswold's villages to be charming yet touristy. Broadway was darling and didn't have that super touristy factor so I like that!

The Three Stooges atop Broadway Tower

English Setter in Stow-on-the-Wold-was gorgoeus!

Gig and Zulu-black labs never far from her mind!

Broadway in the Cotswolds

ET phone home

Kew Gardens

Cool bamboo

This was my fav part of the Kew Gardens-the waterlily conservatory

The tip top of one of the conservatories!

An old broad with an old piece of wood! Sorry MUM!

More Broadway-sorry out of order...

My mummy...too bad it is blurry!

Gig found her very own house in the Cotswolds!

Stopped in at the Hartwell House for tea and lunch! A beautiful hotel to stay near Oxford!

Sorry these are a little out of order but too lazy to change it around (or really I don't know how to with out totally mucking it all up!) The picture above is a lovely hotel south of Oxford called the Hartwell House. It is very Downton Abbey with beautiful manicured grounds and very old and ornate furnishings!
Kennsington Palace-fantastic, updated and current exhibition of Queen Victoria and her Diamond Jubilee

Chihuly and Hyde Park

Inside the Hartwell House

Abbey Road at the Hartwell House

Walking in Henley on the Thames in the POURING rain...
Gig and I had a great day walking in Henley on the Thames, shopping and having a nice lunch of French Onion soup...all on a very blustery and rainy day! With the weather a bit better, we made our way into London the next day. We trained and Tubed our way to the infamous Portobello Road in Notting Hill, Kennsington Palace, shopping at Selfridges, Mayfair, Bond Street and the edge of Hyde Park. We had an amazing dinner at Sketch in Mayfair -- a crazy restaurant/art gallery with the most interesting bathrooms we had ever been in! Little individual egg pods (porta-poddies?) that played chirpy bird music while you loo'd! In the Gallery, where we ate, not one utensil, chair, table, centerpiece, or wineglass were the same. Luckily, the decor and the food were fantastic!

The next day we drove to Kew Gardens and walked every inch of the place! They had several very old conservatories full of ferns, rare plants, waterlilies and rose gardens. We then met my friend Dina in her cute neighborhood of Richmond and a lovely lunch at Petersham Nurseries. Richmond is home to Brangelina and we were on the lookout but no luck on spotting them!
Notting Hill and Portobello Road

Queen Vic's chair (not really)

Sketch Restaurant in London...crazy contemporary restaurant with several different themed rooms for eating and drinking. Great food too!

Deconstructed Gin and Tonic/Mojito---soo much ICE!

The batrooms at Sketch-crazy, individual pods playing bird song inside of them.

Petersham Nursery in Richmond-lovely spot for lunch with the FAB Dina

Crazy port-a-poddies at Sketch

Even Henry has to mind his head!

Fav dinner at new fav neighborhood spot-The Crown at Playhatch

May's dinner-grilled chicken and frites with rocket

Henry's massive RIB dinner-YES he ate it all!

Mussells and white wine-thought of you Dad the entire time I ate it!
Changing of the guard at Windsor Castle
We had a lovely day of touring Windsor Castle and caught the ceremonious Changing of the Guard. Although I had been to the town of Windsor several times to walk the Long Walk and shop their great High Street, it was the first time I had been in the castle. It was stunning and I am sure it will be on our "visitor's" list for all future visitors! We followed it up with a lovely lunch at Gilbey's in Eton with a friend of Gigs from her college days at University of the Pacific (well she did. I had to go home to a sick Henry!). Gig took the train home all by herself!

The Band!

The Queen's Courtyard with one lone Royal Guardsman

The Dudes

The Ladies

Gig and her grandkids

Stamford - Pete and I took a night away...they hung people on that sign back in the day
Being the Super Stud grandmother she is, Gig took the kids into London over the weekend to stay in a hotel and see the Lion King on stage! They manuevered throughout London like experts, had a great time at the play and took a trip on the London Eye. Oh and they met the Fonz at their hotel during breakfast on Sunday morning! He was in town doing a book tour for his children's books he has written. My mom said he was the nicest man and quickly ran out to his car to get the kids autographed copies of his books!

Pete and I were able to sneak away for a night in a "quirky" hotel in the village of Stamford. Charming village, great hotel and a tour of Burghley Castle concluded with a much needed trip to Ikea, made for a quick 24 hour escape for us!
Contemporary dog in an old British village

Such good manners

Burghley Palace-fantastic!!

Ah... a well constructed bench that seems true to size-Pete was a happy man!

Fits the tall man perfectly!

Stunning-wish we could have taken pics inside-a MASSIVE art collection

Attached to the palace was a cool sculpture garden-this is a worm made of plastic bags.

cool cows grazing

There were little art treasures aound every corner. Pete was a mad man with the camera!

This was the "ice house" - they would chip the ice in blocks off the nearby pond, insulate with hay and the ice could stay here of 2 years!

They also added a water garden where kids can come and jump through fountains...really cool.

Our hotel: the William Cecil in Stamford
On the London Eye

"Big Ben, Parliment"

Buckingham Palace

The Fonz, aka Henry Winkler
Burghley Castle - the servant's bells - very Downton Abbey!

Henry saying goodbye (till December) to Gig and off to camp!

Packed up and ready for camp! He had a ball!
Sorry for all the pictures being jumbled up...not sure how to rearrange without losing all of it!
Henry spent a week with his Year Six class on Hayling Island. He bunked with his mates, rock climbed, built rafts, did a blind trail through mud, rapelled, discoed, swam and came home uttterly exhausted! He was so lucky to be able to go with his classmates given his late entry to school.

Next blog up:  last weekends Royal Ascot and this weekends Henley Royal Regatta!
Next visitor: Tom Bice next weekend!