Celebrations

London with The Queen Mum

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

 

This week confirmed my suspicion that I was indeed born in the wrong century and quite possibly, on the wrong continent.  My own “happily ever after” began 18 years ago when I met my beloved in England while we were at school, and the beauty of this country still holds a special piece of my heart with a thousand magical memories which we added to this week…..my sweet mother, turning 70, invited her girls to celebrate this monumental birthday with “tea in London”.  I was made for this life (well, aside from the cold!).… The astounding architecture, rich history, romance and relics, pomp and circumstance, those adorable British accents!!…it still takes my breath away!

The plan has been in the works for a year.  Our Daddy sourced a perfect flat in the heart of London to rent for 4 nights putting his girls within walking distance of Hyde park and Oxford street window shopping.  The time flew past, but not a moment was wasted from evening strolls along the Thames River at sunset, to gusty, breezy double decker bus rides, sitting through mass in St. Pauls and gallivanting around galleries.

Being quite the versatile ladies, we spent leisurely afternoons in tea rooms, and visited local evening pubs where we we’d discard layers and warm ourselves by way of roaring fires and hearty food.

After walking home and thawing, we’d don our pjs, pour some wine and prop up our feet for The Crown series – giving substance and meaning to all the attractions and landmarks we were seeing!

Our mother is the queen of tea parties….and the queen of parties for that matter!  It was the tradition growing up that she’d bring a tea tray with rock sugar and a cute creamer pitcher and something sweet up to our bedroom for slumber parties with friends or on birthday eves or when we were sick and bedridden.  That tea tray has served us thousands of times.  How fitting to have a 4 day celebration and see her waited on and treated like the “queen mum” that she is!  High tea was a must!  Check out our review posts on the a charming morning spent at Betty Blythe Tea Room and high society afternoon tea at The Dorchester!

  Because, “when in Rome”!!

Hard to imagine a more extravagant, memorable, enjoyable 4 days with some of the people I love most! These opportunities dont come around every day, so we made the most of every moment and are combing through thousands of photographs. (Kindly indulge me as I download here.) Tho Ive made a handful of stops in London over the years of living here, there and everywhere, this was the first time I felt I properly got to “do” London!

Id say the only low-light was nearly getting my camera confiscated and us kicked out of St. Pauls Cathedral.  Overcome by the beauty, I failed to take note of the dozens of “NO PHOTOGRAPHY” signs posted everywhere! oops!  Yep, that’d be me embarrassing everyone raising a scene in a 300 year old cathedral!   Note to self….must pay better attention!  I was however, not the only one whose camera was a nuisance.  My sister managed to bring our bus screeching to a halt and the driver came huffing up the stairs to the top to scold her for standing and taking photos (which we’d already been doing for 2 days straight!)  Apparently these sisters are a bit camera crazy – but the pictures are worth it!

So thankful for my sweet man who was a single parent for a few days to give me this time with my mom and sisters (Eden’s first night away from Mommy!!)…..and for my daddy who gifted us this stay….and especially for our mother – for the 70 years she’s so intentionally poured into the lives of those around her and the devotion and dedication to her family. If anyone deserved the royal treatment, it was her!  Trip of a lifetime for all four of us!  Sweetest mother-daughter-sister memories!

High Tea at The Dorchester

Monday, January 22, 2018

You cant take in London without taking tea. And if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right!  The Dorchester Hotel provided the perfect afternoon, embodying all the elegance and pomp and circumstance you’d imagine of high tea in London.  A special girls trip to celebrate my mothers birthday, set the scene for the ultimate tea party!  We sought out the most luxurious hotel to celebrate this special occasion because of course, you only celebrate 70 once!!

Avid fans of Downton Abbey, The Crown and all things posh and pretty, The Dorchester was exactly the high society British afternoon we had anticipated. Waistcoated doormen greet you at the revolving door through which you are welcomed into the Promenade, an extravagant parlor circled by marble columns and illuminated by elegant lanterns.  Tables are laid with fine linens and lavish sprays of fragrant salmon colored roses enhance the beauty of the exquisite parlor interior.  Live piano music set the mood for a leisurely afternoon as we checked our coats in the cloak room and settled into our leather sofa seating around a table for four and “took tea”, in style!


A celebratory champagne toast initiated our afternoon followed by a careful tea selections from an extensive menu of both rare and traditional choices ranging from oolong to green tea, herb and black, white and my personal favorite – peppermint! 
 The assortment of tea sandwiches served exceeded our expectations with creative variations on classic favorites!  Our waiter was charming answering all our questions and patiently explaining the ingredients of each delicate and delicious savory snack.  After a palate cleansing marigold-peach tea, our sweets treats were served.  Warm raisin scones were offered alongside thick clotted cream and assortments of rhubarb and strawberry preserves.  Ill admit, I had (ahem) not one but two scones.  Consequently, I wasn’t exactly hungry by the time our sweets were served on tiered tea trays, but that didn’t keep us from enjoying handcrafted cakes and pastries.  Just too good to resist!


The Dorchester went above and beyond presenting mother with a personalized birthday cake and special serenade from the live pianist. Unarguably an unforgettable afternoon with laughs and memories and photographs we will cherish forever!

Betty Blythe Tea Room

Monday, January 22, 2018

For the celebration of our own dear “queen mother’s” birthday, she invited her daughters to England for the ultimate tea party.  4 days bashing around London together climaxed with a mid-morning tea time at the quaint corner tea room – Betty Blythe!  With brick walls and glittering chandeliers, this venue embodies both grit and grace, just like the women of the generation for which inspire the theme of the restaurant – the roaring 20’s!

The upstairs seats patrons who frequent the corner cafe on their coffee break or to carry out scones or pastries. Down a winding staircase is the private tea room where we happily spent hours playing dress up and sampling sweet and savory sensations!

Tara, the owner, has converted the space into every little girls dream….(or every big girl for that matter!) An entire room devoted to dress-ups and tea! We tried on swing dresses and rummaged through dresser drawers to accessorized with gloves and fascinators and hats and pearls.

Once adorned, our tea was served. Tiny tea sandwiches and house-made scones served up British style – with clotted cream and jam.  Tiered tea-trays were plated up beautifully with delicate pastries and sweets which were passed around complimenting our English breakfast tea and Earl grey.

We had scoured books and blogs, web recommendations and word of mouth to find the best tea rooms in London and Betty Blythe stands out as one of Londons best-kept-secrets.  This darling niche specializes to “hen parties”, baby showers and birthdays.  With seating only for about 20, its never overcrowded and is strikingly reasonably priced.The perfect spot to take in local flavor, tasty treats and make charming, unforgettable memories!