Royal Seal of Approval

Favorites you can enjoy too

Just before the Royal Wedding, I headed to Windsor to get a glimpse of pre-wedding preparation along with visiting the Royal Windsor Horse Show. The large Royal Warrant Holders Association Pavilion marquee caught my eye with its array of wedding memorabilia by Halcyon Days (finebone china) and Daniel (Windsor department store).

A Royal Warrant of Appointment can be made by HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and/or the Prince of Wales to businesses who have supplied highly quality goods or services for at least five years. Those granted a warrant are responsible for displaying the relevant coat of arms of the Royal Family member.

There are currently 800 Royal Warrant Holders. Once an application is accepted, royal warrants are issued for five years. To say the least, companies are motivated to maintain this distinction. In the case of Jaguar Land Rover, Pimm’s and Tabasco (yes the popular Louisiana sauce), it is clear what products are Royal family favorites. 

On the other hand, it is hard to know which specific products at high-end stores like Fortnum & Mason (department store) and Penhaligon’s (perfume house) are favored by the Royal family – complicated by the fact it is not customary for Warrant Holders to disclose this information.  

What I do know is my future trips to Boots and Waitrose will feel just a bit less mundane!

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Four Flower Finds

Perfect Mother's Day Gifts May 13th
Treat Mom to some of the best flowers in the world

Chelsea Flower Show (London)Put on by the Royal Horticultural Society, this is one of the most famous flower shows in the world. The show runs May 22-26 and features everything from over-the-top show gardens to smaller, more intimate one. If you don't manage to get a ticket, there will be window displays celebrating the 60s and 70s and the upcoming royal wedding as part of Chelsea in Bloom that coincides with the Chelsea Flower Show dates. 8452 605000
Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London SW3 4S

Hampton Court Flower Show (East Molesey)If Chelsea isn’t enough, the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (July 3-8) is the world’s largest annual flower show covering 33 acres and takes 3-5 hours to take it all in.  Luckily, the small village of East Molesey boasts quite a few antique shops, boutiques, independent stores and a surprising number of good places to eat— in case you need a break before heading back for more or visit Hampton Court Palace in the same day. 2031 666000
A308, East Molesey KT8 9AU

Kew Gardens (Richmond)Officially known as Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew is London's largest UNESCO World Heritage site and boasts the world's largest glasshouse with the largest most diverse plants in the world. The Temperate House re-opened this weekend after a 5 year, £41 million restoration — take the time to get a birds eye view of the House and the gardens on the the Treetop Walkway 18 metres* up. ✆ +44 2083 32565
Kew Green, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AE

The World Garden (Kent) — Located on the grounds of Lullingtone Castle, one of England's oldest family estates, The World Garden is the UK’s first garden of its kind. The Garden featuring plants from around the world is the brainchild of modern day plant hunter Tom Hart Dyke. You may recall hearing about Dyke in 2000 when he was kidnapped in the Panama on a plant hunting expedition. Following his release, Dyke wrote the best-selling book The Cloud Garden and opened the World Garden to the public in 2005.
+44 1322 862114
Eynsford, Kent DA4 0JA

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Five Favorite Tables

Window seats with the best view

It turns out parties of 2-3 enjoy some of the best views of the city.
Where to book and which tables to request:

Christopher's Grill Conveniently located across from the Lyceum Theatre, this stylish art deco restaurant offers a reasonably priced pre- and post-theatre menu served before 6:15 pm or after 10 pm. Though not particularly high up, several tables of 2-4 have an interesting view towards Waterloo Bridge. They serve modern American cuisine and are particularly well-known for their martini bar. Given my sweet tooth I could not resist their Nutella Martini, which is just as decadent as it sounds.
Request table looking out window towards Waterloo Bridge 2072 404222
18 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7DD

Duck & WaffleLocated on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, Duck & Waffle is considered the highest restaurant in the country. The wait staff was chatty and enthused about the food — a combination we found to be rare here. Each dish we had was flavourful*, made with interesting ingredients and meant to be shared. As an avid hiker, I have made it a point to avoid stinging nettles* — not realizing they could be eaten without harm. Not to be missed is the restaurant’s namesake duck and waffle.
Request table on far side bay of windows 2036 407310
Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY

Ichi Sushi & Sashimi Bar — Generally, I am not as inclined to go to hotel restaurants versus stand-alone establishments. However, The Park Plaza hotel features a wonderful sushi restaurant that is fresh, yummy and located close to Waterloo with a great view of Big Ben. They also offer a reasonably priced sushi afternoon tea and sushi-making masterclasses.
Request table looking out window towards Big Ben ✆ +44 2076 207373
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London SE1 7UT

Searcys at The Gherkin — Usually open exclusively to members and tenants, The Gherkin Sky Restaurant has select open evenings and lunch bookings available to the general public. The 70 seat restaurant located on the 39th floor offers a well-priced, three-course seasonal lunch menu. All the dishes we had were flavorful and perfectly portioned.
Request table on the left hand side for views of Tower Bridge 3301 070816
30 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8EP

Sky Garden — Located on the 36th floor, Darwin Brasserie restaurant offers a reasonably priced breakfast.  Small parties of 2-3 work best so you can request a table in the corner with the best view.  Alternatively, there is no admission fee to visit Sky Garden just one floor below the Brasserie (though you must pre-book a specific time). City Garden Bar and Sky Pod Bar are both located on the 35th floor with first-come, first-served seating available at scattered chairs and coaches.
Request left hand corner table in Darwin Brasserie 2031 666000
Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF

Book in advance (include a note in comments section when booking on-line) and call ahead to see if these tables are available.

Tip : Some restaurants will not reserve specific tables, however, if you book and arrive when lunch or dinner seating starts you have a better chance of snagging the best window seat.

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The Sculpture Park

World's largest sculpture exhibition

The Sculpture Park in Farham features 800+ sculptures representing some 300 artists. Similar to Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden, it is set on 10 acres and your admission comes with a handy self-guided tour booklet, including artist name, name of piece, materials used and the price.

From the moment you arrive at the Park, contemporary and modern sculptures seemingly emerge from the somewhat wild landscape. Ceramic, bronze, cooper, glass, stone and wood are just some of the materials used in the various sculptures.

The two-mile route is marked by colored arrows starting and finishing at the reception building that houses a small gallery.  Along the way, there are strategically placed areas to sit, including raised wooden Thai huts and other areas to picnic.  While there is not an onsite cafe, Bel & the Dragon pub is located directly across from the Park and you are welcome to leave and return to later in the day.

While the pieces are not grouped by artist, you'll quickly notice multiple pieces created by the same artist.  It is worth keeping track of those that catch your eye, there may be a smaller, more budget-friendly version available for purchase in the gallery. If you are in the market to buy a full-scale piece, The Sculpture Park is one of the only sculpture specialists in the UK.

With 2,000+ pieces available for purchase and delivery anytime of year, there is something to suit everyone's taste.  Lastly, since new pieces are 
added when others are sold, there is truly 'always something new to discover'! 1428 605453
Corner of Jumps and Tilford Road, Churt, Farnham, Surrey GU10 2LH

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Perfect Pairings

Celebrate National Tea Day (April 21st)

Three convenient outing and afternoon tea combinations

Buckingham Palace : Fortnum & Mason The State Rooms, Buckingham Palace is open for two months every year (July 21- September 30, 2018). Alternatively, you can watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday (10:45 am - 11:30 am). Walk 13 minutes to Fortnum & Mason to enjoy a traditional afternoon tea in the The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. Fortnum's will also offer a special Wedding Breakfast Tea to celebrate the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday, May 19th. 2077 348040
181 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER

The Science Museum : Ampersand HotelThe Science Museum has a vast collection of over 300,000 items. These include medical, scientific and technical advances from around the world — many that are one-of-a-kind. Similar to other museums in London, entry is free (charges apply for IMAX along with some activities, events and special exhibits).  Walk 5 minutes to the Ampersand Hotel to enjoy their hands-on, interactive Science Afternoon Tea — fun for kids and adults too. 20759 14414
10 Harrington Road, London SW7 3ER

Shakespeare's Globe : SwanThe 2018 Banned & Censored Plays season (April 25 - October 20, 2018) features classics like As You Like It, Hamlet and Othello. To make the most of your visit, schedule time for a Globe Theatre Tour and Exhibition beforehand followed by a Midsummer’s Night Dream afternoon tea afterwards at the on-site riverside restaurant, The Swan. They even offer a savory-based Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea option complete with a glass of ale. +44 20790 21400
21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT

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Favorite Food Trucks

Some of the best food on the go

Blacks BurgersWith over 25+ toppings to choose from, you can truly customize your burger. If you manage to save room for dessert, they also make their own gelato that is available on its own or part of five different milkshake concoctions. In addition to multiple locations in Surrey, The Blacks Express Bus imported from New York is available for hire.

Phil You UpRanked the top place to eat in Leatherhead and considered among the top 10 ‘restaurants’ in Surrey, the Phil You Up truck resides in the B&Q parking lot. In addition to traditional burgers, the menu includes pitas, sandwiches and wraps. Joe’s Special with Cajun glazed chicken, avocado, brie and mayonnaise is not to be missed.
+44 7795 215654
B&Q Car Park, Kingston Road, Leatherhead KT22 7QB

Taco TruckThe bright, red. Citroen fire truck serves up Mexican street food, including chicken, chilli con carne, fish and veggie tacos. As a truly mobile kitchen, you’ll need to follow them on Facebook to find them at public events and festivals or hire them for your next function. You can, however, have their specially made chilli sauce Guau (Spanish for ‘woof’) delivered to your door. +44 7815 028676

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Five Famous Britons

Get up close and personal

With a good chance of rain still in the forecast, get up close and personal with five of the most famous people in British History while staying dry.

Jane Austen : Jane Austen’s House Museum (Chawton) — The Grade I listed building is considered one of the most important literary sites in the world. Austen spent the last eight years of her life and where she is said to have completed six novels. The Museum includes Austen family items, including original pieces of furniture (the most striking is the small table where she wrote her novels), books, jewelry, and textiles. 1420 83262
Winchester Road, Chawton, Hampshire GU34 1SD

Winston Churchill : Churchill War Rooms (London) — As part of your admission, there is an audio tour (adults have a version and kids have their own version). In addition to this technical gadget, there is a lot to see and do for young kids and older teens. It is incredibly well-organized with interactive, interesting exhibits and actual rooms that have been untouched since 1945. Because it is part of a working government building today, it is a bit of a maze to walk through (keep your kids close since there is no cell signal). 2074 165000
Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AQ

Charles Darwin : Down Home (Downe) — Down House maintained by English Heritage is where Charles Darwin spent 40 years of his life with his family.  The award-winning exhibition highlights Darwin's life's work and features the study that has been left intact from Darwin’s time. There is a multimedia guide for Darwin's family rooms and friendly, knowledgeable staff. It is worth visiting the garden where Darwin’s children helped test his theories and you’ll see the ‘stair slide’ that was put in place for them to enjoy — mark of a true genius! 1689 859119
Luxted Road, Downe, Orpington BR6 7JT

Diana, Princess of Wales : Diana — Her Fashion Story (London) — The exhibition covers the most iconic outfits worn by Diana, the Princess of Wales, from her first public appearances in the 80s to those worn in the 90s. Highlights include the blouse worn for her engagement portrait to the velvet evening gown worn while dancing with John Travolta at the White House. A 'White Garden' has been installed to complement the exhibition and commemorates the 20th anniversary of her passing.  It is also where Prince Harry formally announced his engagement to Meghan Markle.  Until February 28, 2019 (closed April 16 - 25) 2031 666000
Kensington Palace State Apartments, Kensington Gardens, London W8 4PX

Florence Nightingale : Florence Nightingale Museum (London) — This small, compact museum is traces the life and work of Florence Nightingale, pioneer of modern nursing. It features a collection of artifacts and memorabilia, including the famous lamp which earned her the nickname ‘The Lady of the Lamp’ and even her pet owl she had while visiting patients.  Free 15-minute public tours are included in the price of admission on Tuesdays (except during school holidays). 2071 884400
St Thomas’ Hospital, 2 Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7EW

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