Best of 2018

Top 10 posts — Part I

Here is a look back at the top 10 posts from 2018.  How many have you done?

10. British Holiday Traditions, Part I : Eat — Afternoon teas with a festive twist — in London there is no shortage of afternoon teas to indulge in
www.londonviasurrey.com/2018/12/british-holiday-traditions-part-i.html

9. Frosty Forecast — An hour-long winter wonderland walk worth bundling up for in Surrey
www.londonviasurrey.com/2018/02/frosty-forecast.html

8. Open House London — Free admission, including talks, tours and walks to 800 buildings in September
www.londonviasurrey.com/2018/09/open-house-london.html

7. February Finds — London has half-term covered
www.londonviasurrey.com/2018/02/february-finds.html

6. Dine like Harry Potter – Hogwarts type Great Hall for less
www.londonviasurrey.com/2018/01/dine-like-harry-potter.html


Best of 2018 - Part II will feature the best of the best from 2018.

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British Holiday Traditions, Part III

Eat, Drink & Be Merry

Be Merry . . .
Christmas Crackers have been a British tradition since the 19th century. They were introduced by confectioner Tom Smith who was inspired by French sugar almonds wrapped in paper. While his adaptation of sweets accompanied by a riddle were initially well-received, it wasn't until he came up with a way to make the cracker 'pop' did it gain popularity.

Beyond Christmas, crackers were created to celebrate major events, including The Coronation and The Paris Exhibition. Smith also specialized in exclusive crackers in collaboration with Wedgwood and ones for members of the Royal Family — a tradition that continues.

Today, while Christmas Crackers are still a favorite UK party favor, they can also be found

throughout the world during the holidays as well as other festive events. Typically, crackers are colorfully wrapped cardboard tubes placed at the dinner table.

The crackers 'pop' when it is pulled on either end by two people. For groups of three or more, it is tradition for each person to cross their arms to pull all the crackers at once. Each cracker contains a ‘crown’, gift or toy along with a joke. Similar to advent calendars, today’s crackers can be filled with a wide array of items, including alcohol, chocolate, jewellry, cosmetics and musical instruments.

They can be purchased from high-end retailers like Harrods or Selfridges to your local grocers — a perfect way to start the holiday season or the New Year with a 'bang'!

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British Holiday Traditions, Part II

Eat, Drink & Be Merry

Drink . . .
Mulled Wine is a popular Christmas time beverage made with red wine and spices. The Romans were the first to heat wine in the 2nd century to combat the cold winters. As the Romans conquered Europe, the popularity of mulled wine grew, including the addition of spices for added health benefits and flowers to make the wine taste better.

It is not surprising that interest in the beverage spread in colder climates, such as Austria, Germany (glühwein) and Scandinavian countries (glögg).  Mulled wine became synonymous with Christmas when Charles Dickens mentioned 'Smoking Bishop', a popular mulled wine at the time, in his classic A Christmas Carol.

Today, mulled wine is served warm at outdoor markets and pubs throughout the holiday season. Two places to enjoy mulled wine complete with holiday shopping, include:

The Crusting Pipe (Covent Garden) — Located close to Jubilee Market, the only market in London that is owned by traders. Monday features antiques; Tuesday to Thursday is a general market; and Saturday and Sunday arts and crafts items are sold by 200+ vendors.
www.davy.co.uk/wine-bar/crusting-pipe+44 2078 361415
27 The Market, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8RD


OXO Tower Restaurant (South Bank) — Housed below the

rooftop restaurant with views of the River Thames, are 25+ contemporary designers selling art, ceramics, fashion, photography and other gift items.
www.oxotower.co.uk+44 2078 033888
Barge House Street, London SE1 9PH


If Pimm's is a sign of summertime, no winter season is complete without mulled wine!

Next post, how to Be Merry this holiday . . .


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British Holiday Traditions, Part I

Eat, Drink & Be Merry

Eat . . .
Afternoon Tea is one of Britain's most popular and time-honored traditions. Introduced in the early 19th century, afternoon tea was intended to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner when dinner customarily started at 8 pm.

Today, afternoon tea is usually associated with a special occasion.  It generally consists of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam (interestingly, a 20th century addition) and cake.

In London there is no shortage of afternoon teas to indulge in — a perfect way to kick off the holiday season. Some of my favorite places have put a festive twist on their afternoon — making it even better to re-visit one you love or try a new one altogether.


Biscuiteers
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Brown's Hotel

Hotel Cafe Royal
Hotel One Aldwych — Charlie & the Chocolate Factory

The Ritz
Sanderson Hotel — Mad Hatter’s Tea Party


The Savoy
Watch this space for what you can Drink only this time of year . . .

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RCA Mini Masterpieces

1,800+ postcards to pick from

Established in 1994, the Royal College of Art (RCA) Stewarts RCA Secrets exhibition is one of the most popular art events of the year attracting both novice and serious art collectors. The exhibit will feature over 1,800 original postcard-sized pieces priced at £60 each by established and emerging artists. Postcards range from traditional drawing, painting and photography to even embroidery and sculpture. All proceeds of the annual sale benefit the RCA.

The ‘secret’ is part of the fun and intrigue. The postcards are displayed anonymously, and the artist’s is not revealed until the postcard is sold. Past contributors include David Bowie, Manolo Blahnik, David Hockney, Orla Kiely, Stella McCartney, Yoko Ono, *Grayson Perry and *Paul Smith (*confirmed for 2018).

The free exhibit opens November 30th (online viewing on November 29th) and runs until December 3rd. Purchases can be made on a first come first serve basis beginning on December 1st. The maximum number is four, but additional ones may be purchased on December 3rd, the final day of the exhibition. Online registration is required to view postcards online or to make a purchase.

Exhibition
November 30 : Noon – 7 pm
December 2, 3 : 10 am – 6 pm
December 1 : Noon – 6 pm

Collection
December 6 : 4 – 8 pm

Here’s your chance to purchase a masterpiece by an internationally known or an up-and-coming artist at a bargain price!
www.london.secret.rca.ac.uk
Senior Common Room, Darwin Building, Jay Mews, Kensington London SW7 2EU

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London's Best Holiday Windows

5 displays in 50 minutes

Black Friday, the day after US Thanksgiving holiday (fourth Thursday of the month), is considered one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Since 2010, it has gained popularity in the UK.

Even before this tradition crossed the pond, London has had a long history of some of the best window displays in the world. So while everyone is nabbing deals inside, get into the holiday spirit outside at five of the very best . . .

Harrods — Harrods is a British retail institution known throughout the world. Luxury merchandise is featured in 330 departments covering seven floors at its London store — the largest department store in the UK.
Walk 4 minutes to Harvey Nichols
www.harrods.com +44 2077 301234
87-135 Brompton Road, London SW1X 7XL


Harvey Nichols — Established in 1831, Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge is an eight-story high-end department store featuring hundreds of beauty, clothing, food and wine brands.
Walk 24 minutes to Selfridges
www.harveynichols.com +44 2072 355000
109-125 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RJ


Selfridges — Voted as one of the top department stores in the world, the Oxford Street flagship store includes beauty and food halls, shoe gallery, restaurants, spa and even an in-store psychics.
Walk 12 minutes to Liberty
www.selfridges.com +44 2077 301234
87-135 Brompton Road, London SW1X 7XL


Liberty — Since 1875, Liberty has been best-known for its in-house collection of print fabrics. Today, Liberty continues to collaborate with designers and has expanded its eclectic offerings beyond fashion to include cosmetics, home decor and jewellery*.
Walk 10 minutes to Fortnum & Mason
www.libertylondon.com ✆ +44 2077 341234
Regent St, Carnaby, London W1B 5AH, UK

Fortnum & Mason — Founded in 1707, Fortnum & Mason located in Piccadilly is considered to be London's oldest department store. Fortnum's signature, luxury picnic hampers, which made their debut in Victorian times at Royal Ascot and Henley Regatta, are still popular today. 
www.fortnumandmason.com +44 2077 348040
181 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER

. . . all without spending a single pence!

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Poppies are back

Display ends November 18th

One of the most viewed London public artworks, the Tower of London poppies are back. In July - November 2014, the Tower of London featured a public art installation, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Britain’s involvement in World War I. Each of the 888,246 ceramic red poppies represented serviceman killed during the War.

The majority of the poppies from the installation were sold benefiting six charities. The ceramic artist Paul Cummins and conceptual designer Tom Piper received the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in honor of this civil achievement in 2015.

Two segments of the installation, The Wave and Weeping Window, will be on tour until Remembrance Day November 18th to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the end of the War. These installations will then enter the permanent collection of the Imperial War Museum (IWM).

A visit to IWM London to see Weeping Window and/or IWM Manchester to see The Wave before they are removed is well worth it!


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