As for me and London, it was like cutting the umbilical cord, I don’t mind telling you. There was no question in my mind or heart that I wanted to come home. But I was not finished with London. I knew it and London knew it. As I discarded my list of things yet to do, I had a little moment between my hand and the garbage can vowing that I would be back. And I will. I had one day between booking the flight and actually taking the flight so I packed as much as I could into that one day. I went into the All Souls Church where I had planned to attend a service on my last day in London––the 31st. This visit however served as a quiet place to meditate and say a prayer for my Mom. The All Souls Church is the last standing church of the great architect John Nash. A stunning if very simple structure, it was intended to bookend his great design of Regent Street, although that dream was never realized.
|All Souls Church|
We then met Colin’s aunt and uncle at Paddington Station where they arrived to spend the day with us from Swinden (yes, that’s right, British Office fans!). I bought my Mom a little Paddington bear to cheer her up. We had a lovely day showing them Little Venice and had a fabulous lunch at a stunning old pub. What makes this pub unique is the fact that it is the only pub in London that still has the little “private rooms” where the rich could enjoy themselves without being forced to sit next to the great unwashed. The really unique thing about these little rooms is that the doors leading into them are only three feet high and you are forced to duck under them to get to your private areas. I felt like Alice. Even all five-foot of me had to duck. My six-foot-two husband almost had to crawl! The picture below might not show the proportions, but picture that door as three-feet tall, because it is!!! Maybe the pints of beer should have had little tags that said “drink me” in order to shrink me to size. Once into the room, it is quite normal with very high ceilings.
After a fab lunch and a great visit (interrupted by texts, calls and emails from home regarding Mom) we headed back to the hotel where I packed up my suitcase, after which we headed out to Convent Garden for a great Italian dinner. Then Colin and I spent a wonderful night in the theatre––at a play called Jerusalem. During the two intermissions, my cousin and I would text back and forth regards my mom and her condition. To say my focus was split in this last day would be an understatement. Even the music as we entered the theatre made me weep. Colin was, as always, my solid right arm.
|Flag photo of the curtain design for Jerusalem.|
The next morning we set the alarm for an early morning wake. Although I would not make it to numerous things like the V&A and the British Museum among many others, I wanted to make sure I got to the installation at Kensington Palace, which I had been dreaming of for months. We set off. Me with a spring in my step and my husband with obligation in his shoes. To my glee, he loved it, as did I! It was absolutely magical. While Kensington Palace is being restored, they decided to let artist Chris Levine do an installation called “The Enchanted Palace” based in fact but presented like a dream with hidden princesses for the visitor to find and artistic displays that leapt out at us and drew us in. A little about that...
A palace transformed
Kensington Palace is being transformed. As the walls of the palace are being shaken by a £12 million renovation project the rubble and the dust is unleashing powerful and secret stories about the lives of Kensington's princesses.
At the heart of the Enchanted Palace journey is a quest for the seven princesses who once lived here. Their lives have been re-imagined as installations offering a fascinating interpretation of the palace’s hidden stories. The rebellious princess who ran from an arranged marriage into the arms of love. Sad queens who bore the pain and sadness of lost babies. The young heir to the throne who escaped the controlling grasp of her overprotective mother.
Visitors must use their eyes and ears to find clues that reveal the identity of the elusive royal residents. Guided by an enchanted map, the advice of obliging palace guardians and a few helping hands, their search will take them to all the hidden corners of the State Apartments and lead them to a glittering finale where they will at last meet the princesses face to face.
Bringing the Enchanted Palace to life are the palace guardians, our expert front of house team and professional actors, who provide a personal insight into the strange world of the palace.
Would not have missed it for the world!!! Each room has a theme of the princesses, from tragic, to childless, to loved, and ending with “The Dancing Princesses”, Margaret and Diana. The final room had shadows dancing on the ceiling to Fred Astair singing “Dancing Cheek to Cheek”. I took a video for the blog and did not press the right button so sadly I do not have that. But we both have the lovely memory of it and we will hold on to it for you until you can go and see it for yourself.
Finally, we walked into the Kensington Gardens, as I was a gal on a mission. When my Mom was a little girl, she was given a Christmas present from the Girl Guides that she treasured. My Mom’s family was quite poor so the Guides, along with the Toronto Star Christmas Fund, were their only source and hope of gifts. This gift was a lovely colour rendition of Peter Pan in Kensington Garden. She gave me the framed photo last year knowing my deep love for all things Pan. For those of you who have been reading the London blog you will know that I purchased the Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens prints for the powder room and planned to put her print in a place of honour across from it. My plan was to surprise her with a photo of me at the statue looking up at Pan like the children in her painting did. So I did. And she loved it. And here it is.
Anne McGrath. Keep her in your thoughts please.
Barbara: Deb, as sad as I am to have you have to come home under these circumstances, I am so relieved that you are safe and sound and that your mom is rallying. You know she is in my thoughts, as you are.
Thanks for a brilliant, evocative and sweet “guided couch tour” of London (wink). I’ve loved every single moment of it! Somehow, despite everything, you managed to end your trip on just the right perfect note. Much love xo