10 May 2014

Right Royal Fun in London

Especially for Ann, who is now the proud owner of our lovely little English fox, here is a photo of the fox and Caleb.  Caleb loved tackling that little fox, but now has to make do with his other toys.

This is the last post where I’m pretending to still be overseas.  But I can issue a Spoiler now that we’re really home and tell you that it was a very successful trip, with over 600kg of goodies on their way to Australia as I type.  Yep, I bought over 600kg of stuff – no furniture, all smalls – in three weeks.  Now that’s shopping.
Enamelware just like this
is on it's way.
And we’ll be taking our usual stand at the Caloundra Street Fair on Sunday, 11 May.  Come by and visit, if you can. 

We’ve dug new things out from the depths of our garage that we will start presenting from Sunday at Caloundra.  This is directly related to a phone call I had from the Producers of the TV show Aussie Pickers.  But more on that next post.
Meanwhile, in the final catch-up post of this trip, we find ourselves in London on a beautiful Spring day ….

With the last of our boxes delivered to the shippers, we headed down to London for a play day.  The pollution and Saharan sand storm had blown away over the Atlantic, and the day promised to be warm and sunny.  So we set off for our long anticipated visit to Hampton Court Palace.
Costumed actors roam the Palace, re-enacting
the little (and big) scandals and gossip of
the Court.
The Palace was built 500 years ago and its most famous occupant was Henry VIII.  It’s actually two Palaces in one – the original Tudor building and the baroque “extensions” done by King William and Queen Mary in the early 1700s.
Our time was limited, though, so we visited the Tudor part of the complex this time.  And not even the entire Tudor part, because this place is much bigger than you think and there’s plenty to catch your attention and have you linger.
One of the cooks in the Palace
kitchens.  Look at that giant
wooden board he's using.
We spent an especially long time in the kitchens, which served two sittings for 600 people twice a day, every day.  As long as you liked to eat a whole lot of red meat the food was good, with a surprising amount of interesting, exotic spices in Tudor recipes. 
These days there are re-enactment cooks in the Palace kitchens making all manner of things, and I got a good tip from one on where to buy reasonably priced saffron.
The tapestries in the Great Hall are the actual enormous tapestries commissioned by Henry 500 years ago to dead impress visitors to the Court.  They are very fine and still highly coloured, and they certainly dead impressed these visitors.
More giant wooden boards and nice stoneware
in the Royal kitchens.

One of the least imposing rooms but perhaps the most reflective of Henry VIII’s callousness in his later years, is a hall called the Processional Route.  This was the hall that led from Henry’s private apartments to the Palace’s chapel. 
One of the enormous 500 year old
tapestries in the Great Hall.
It is down the Processional Route that Catherine Howard, the fifth wife, is said to have fled screaming from her guards in a desperate bid to reach Henry to deny rumours of her infidelity.  These rumours were apparently unfounded – it appears she was just a pretty, young girl who was the centre of attention and liked to flirt.  Clearly she was out of her depth in machinations of the Tudor Court.

But after hearing the rumours and ordering her execution, Henry refused to meet with Catherine ever again.  So much for the King’s Justice and hearing two sides to every story. 
The Processional Route, the most
haunted place at Hampton Court Palace.
Despite her efforts to see Henry, the guards caught Catherine in the Processional Route and dragged her back to her apartments – and ultimately to her death.  What a charmer our Henry was.
The Processional Route is said to be haunted by poor Catherine.  To this day she still runs down it, screaming and weeping - if you’re psychic enough to sense her, that is, which apparently I am not. 

Interestingly, this is the one spot in the entire Palace where vast numbers of people faint, or report feeling suddenly unwell.  Again, nothing from psychically-challenged me and Doug.

Lots of nice things in the Palace's gift shop, but mostly very expensive.  We did indulge in a couple of the large hour glasses, which you can just see on the left of the bottom shelf.
I can’t help but wonder how many visitors feel faint in this spot after hearing the tale of Catherine’s presence and told this is where “sensitive” people become affected by her continuing distress.  The power of suggestion.  Or maybe I’m just oblivious to the Other Side. 

I also can’t be hypnotized, in case you were planning it.

What did get a reaction from us was the King’s Very Own Chocolate Kitchen, devoted entirely to making nice cups of hot chocolate for the King and his favourites.  It was the one room of the William and Mary part of the Palace that we had time to visit, although there is no doubt we will visit again to see the rest, perhaps in October.

There are a number of lovely gardens in the
Palace's grounds.


We had time for a quick perambulation around the gardens, which were full of springtime colour and very beautiful.  I do like a nice parterre garden, although they require a huge amount of work to keep them looking neat and geometric.  No problem if you have a host of gardeners on your staff.  I will start recruiting soon.

Not all the gardens are strictly groomed, and
there are plenty of beautiful, wild areas.
We also looked in briefly on The Great Vine, planted in 1768 and now the largest grape vine in the world.  We didn’t visit the Palace’s famous maze this time, though.  It’s not for nothing I call Doug Wrong-Way Palmen and we did have a plane to catch the next day.

So then off to Singapore, on an interminably long flight that was absolutely packed.  I really prefer to stay on planes for no longer than about 7 hours at a time, but having only one stop-over between Australia and the UK means you’re destined to have a 14 hour leg at some point.  The suckiest part of every trip is the time on the plane.  Bring on teleportation, brilliant scientists.

A Heraldic window in the Watching
Room at Hampton Court Palace.
It was literally where courtiers
would stand around watching and
waiting - sometimes for hours, sometimes
for days - for the King to appear
from his apartments.
I have nothing to report about Singapore this time.  We stayed in an okay hotel with a giant room and a giant bed – unusual for Singapore – but slept most of the time.  I would like to try a night safari at the zoo one time, but it needs to be when I’m not horribly jetlagged.  So maybe next time we’re travelling through Singapore.

So that was this buying trip brought to a close.  We had a jolly good time and bought masses of great things that I can’t wait to start presenting.  Pretty soon the battle with Customs and Quarantine will commence, so we shall gird our loins for that.

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