Monday, 1 September 2014

Clarence House - A small tour of the home of Prince Charles

Some of you know I try and be a tourist in my own city otherwise one only sees the daily grind of London instead of the reasons why it is considered a destination.

Regular readers know I did a tour of Buckingham Palace last year.
I walked past it on my way to this summer's tourist activity.
Glorious August London traffic! 
Look at how empty the Mall is!
 I not only walked by Buckingham Palace but also walked by the red coat guards stomping up and down in their ceremonial fashion.  Tourists should not be disappointed if they miss 
the changing of the guards.  One should just walk towards Clarence House and watch two guards ceremoniously stomp back and forth as a good substitute.
This year I decided on Clarence House and entered through the door that is on the Mall.
They had a decorative entry marquee before the tour started in the gardens.
I was clicking away and noticed that part of St James was also part of the grounds of Clarence House.
I wondered what was through those gates and noticed the planting as Prince Charles is a passionate gardener.  I had heard he had beehives and all sorts of gardens even in his London home.
I also saw his vegetable garden when I was told there would be no photos allowed at all.
So I will leave you with a few pictures from the guidebook that was part of the tour.
The house seems to have always housed a senior royal.
It is not only the home to Prince Charles but has been the home to the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and even to Queen Elizabeth before she became Queen.

I took a shot of the most famous room of the house from the book.

 This is their Morning Room and the room where most family and official portraits are taken.  All the recent Prince George christening photos were taken here.

This room has mostly stayed the same since the days when 
Queen Elizabeth lived here.
As I adore porcelain I asked what the collection of china was that was proudly displayed on either side of the fireplace. 
( better seen on the first picture of the room two pics above )

The guide said it was Chelsea Porcelain which was not considered fashionable until it was discovered that the Queen collected it.  Copies are now available through the Royal collection gift shop.

The guided tour only included the main garden and a few rooms on the ground floor.

This is the dining room and apparently Prince Charles always sits facing the unfinished portrait of the Queen Mother.

This is the study and office of the prince but also where most televised interviews are filmed.

The guide did say that the house has a romantic gloom as light is very much a scarcity.
When I entered this hall, I was struck at how dark it actually was. 
The house was everything you would expect from a royal home with all its furniture and trappings.
It was an hour long and the guides were very knowledgeable about the house and history in general which added to the tour.  

It also ended with a glass of very chilled champagne  in the garden so I would highly recommend visiting next year when the house is open again.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

August 2014 Instagramy Post

I stayed in town for August as I am going away in September.
Staycations are underrated especially in London when August is one of the few months where it is nice to enjoy the park and my new balcony.

I have been rubbish at logging events this month so here are the pics I did take.

We took Millie on a country weekend.
Dogs don't get seat belts and I did what many mothers used to do in the old days.
She sat on my lap.

On the way out of town, we drove by a colorful Hindu wedding.

This was the best I could do but do you see a pointy thing center right behind the white van?
That is an oast house.
It was originally used to dry hops for beer and is now mainly found in the southeast region of England.What you definitely won't see anywhere but the south of England are vineyards. 
 I am not sure if this style of cladding is a Southern thing or an old English thing in general. But one doesn't see this in London.

I would be lying if I said I love the countryside in general but the country roads make a road trip more scenic than a motorway.
The classic white signs indicating hamlets are charming.

Our friend has all the country life trappings.

Welsh mountain goats.
An apple orchard.
Lots of very happy dogs.
Walled gardens.

Millie's favorite bit were the chickens that offered daily eggs.  
Her primal instincts were so strong because as a part spaniel - they were the ones to flush out birds from the bushes before a hunt.

There was a special 100 anniversary beam of light to commemorate the first world war.
I had a pretty good vantage point from the balcony.

It made London a bit like Gotham city.
There was the "other" ray of hope.
A double rainbow.
Dude. A rainbow Blue Booby! ;)

While I know it is great to have electric cars I doubt my ability to drive one as I have a neverending battle of charging my phone.

If the news weren't so darn terrible, the headlines would have been about the temperate and consistent summer we had...
It was a gentle summer and the kind poets write about.
I was so inspired that I planted some tulip bulbs 
in the rear courtyard and tried to get all homemaker-y and poured coffee beans into the soil.
Apparently one uses ground coffee but I am sure mother nature is much more understanding than my critics.
This year's Serpentine Pavilion is by Smiljan Radic.
It looks like a crude spaceship on Stonehenge.

Millie turned one last week and she loved that stick so much I brought it back home.
She has been such an unexpected joy in our lives.
I was so dubious when my brother said he was getting a dog but now I shudder to think he could have listened to me and passed on the idea of having a dog in the city.

She is still so curious.  
She is cuter than she is smart. 
I am an honest aunt.  
She tried to get at the birds and tried to squeeze under the rails...
I think she must have had a crook neck because she used my pillow to nap later that day.

Just to let you know I am behind schedule and will be picking two names from the hat this weekend. So last reminder call for any new readers to let me know if they want to enter 
( people who have entered in the past are automatically in.)

Also, I have having an atrocious time commenting on wordpress blogs.  The Gentleman Farmer let me know that some of my comments were in his spam folder.  Mind you my comments are very similar in content to spam.  So if you have a wordpress blog please do check your spam folders as I can't imagine I am the only one who has experienced this.

Have a lovely weekend x

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

My Outfit Pick of the Summer 2014

I had heard of instagram being a marketing tool and didn't understand quite how that worked until I saw this dress featured on the instagram of the lifestyle blogger Amanda Brooks.

I don't have her physique nor do I normally take notice of outfits in relation to my wearing it but this dress just looked so comfortable and feminine.

Regular readers know that I don't normally do personal style posts but I am making an exception for this dress.

Most of you know that I had avoided shopping at any type 
of high street brand after I went through the trauma of packing up my belongings for my house refurbishment.  
I was so disgusted with meaningless junk of all forms I had accumulated that 
I became very strict with purchases.

This dress is from Zara and is affordable at £36. 
This is the sort of dress that has made Zara a success.
I am showing the dress on a hanger and on myself.
It is a strapless dress so I have worn it with a cardigan.

Selfies are not my thing and they are very difficult as I don't have a proper flattering selfie mirror.  I used the very narrow mirror in a small nook of a bathroom so please forgive the pics.

This pose isn't "act natural and lean against the wall". It is me trying to fit myself into the narrow mirror!
Yes I am wearing black and blue.
But the blue is more indigo and denim so it wasn't jarring.

These pics really aren't very good to the extent that I nearly didn't post this...
But I have to tell you that it was a dream to wear as it is slightly fitted but also loose in the right places.
(I took a large size. I fit into the medium until I had to zip up around my chest.  So while I like the way it fit better from the waist down in the medium I had to settle for large due to my bust.)
The dress also has pockets which I adore!
It can be worn with or without a cardigan and I have paired it with a jacket which I plan to wear in the autumn.

But I have rarely gotten so many compliments on the dress from my friends and complete strangers in London ( in London!!)

So for that reason I thought I should share this find with those looking for a staple basic that you will get a lot of use out of.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Tanning Tips According to My Mother

It will seem incongruous to some to give out tanning tips in the age of SPF 50 and repeated campaigns of Slip Slop Slap.  
In some circles, tanning tips might seem akin to tips on how to smoke like a 1940's movie star.  
But alas, sun worshipers like smokers still exist.

But I find it always amusing to see people's acquired holiday suntans particularly while living in the UK.

The "serves you right for wearing your cap on backwards after the age of 15" tan.

 The Neapolitan ice cream tan.

I have been guilty of the "why did I keep my watch on holiday when all I had to do was flip over and eat" tan.

  Three pics above via  

There is an art to sun tanning and 
I don't mean the simplistic avoidance of the sunburn and/or increasing melanin in your skin.

One summer during my late teens while lounging around the pool, 
I remember reading a book under the trees.   
My already bronzed mother who was meticulously positioned 
to tan her body but not her face nor hands insisted 
I get some sun.

For those who may not be familiar,
 Asians normally don't tan and and try to stay fair but my mother has her own quirky ways. 

I put my sunscreen on (we wanted to be brown not wrinkled) and laid out but mother was still not done nagging guiding me. 

She told me laying on my side or at an angle to shade my figure was the optimum position while sunbathing.  Another option was the Brazilian way of tanning which is standing up which is not as relaxing.

Otherwise if you just tanned front and back,
 she called it the ice cream sandwich tan which 
she thought was a bit vulgar and very amateurish. 

My mother having artistic tendencies said we must aim for chiaroscuro which means the use of light and dark and shadows in overall composition in most art forms. 

But alas make up artists who work on swim suit shoots always put a dark foundation patch on the sides of the body.

Even dresses such as the body con dress by Stella McCartney  that shave off an inch on either side of the silhouette are highly flattering.

But all idiosyncrasies aside,
I know the risks of skin issues as I have lived in Australia.  
In Asia I was surrounded with the exception of my mother 
by women who were obsessed with acquiring a neon white complexion.  The "Facekini" might seem a little excessive for some but I know a lot of Asians who will look at this picture and think - fair enough.


But I have reached my own personal method for bronzing.  
I rarely stay in the sun if I don't aim to have a proper suntan.  Any direct sun is purely for Vitamin D replenishment or a premeditated holiday pursuit.
  I freckle due to my father's side so even when I do suntan 
I keep a hat on and stay under an umbrella.  It takes longer to develop a color but it also stays for longer. I also apply for purely cosmetic reasons extra sunblock on my face and my hands and decolletage. 

I also put on solid pancake foundation as a physical barrier as 
I find that I still develop loads of freckles even when I apply high SPF factors.

And don't forget there is always spray tan!