Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part 2

It was with deep sadness that we left our little B&B in Scotland and travelled across the Firth of Forth (don't you just love that? The Firth of Forth. Just slips over the tongue, doesn't it?) to catch a train to London.

But first, a trip to the loo in the train station where we encountered our first pay toilet, heretofore to be known as "the 30p pee."

You should have seen us scrambling for change.

Anyway, after a perfectly hellacious 5 hour train ride (now that's a post for another day) we arrived in London and made our way to our hotel in the Victoria neighborhood.

Now, Victoria is not a neighborhood I would normally stay in in London. I prefer Kensington with its gorgeous homes and quiet streets, but God really had other things in store last February when I put in my pie-in-the-sky Priceline bid and actually won it. In Victoria.

And you know what? God was right! For this trip, Victoria was exactly where we needed to be--just a couple of Tube stops from everything, close to restaurants, and just down the street from the theatre.

Here's a picture of our room, just in case you're into that sort of thing, which I'm not, but I'll post it for you curious ones.

If it seems like a large room to you, especially by London standards, it is. (And no, that's not a bottle of vodka sitting on the desk over there--it's water. Fancy water.) Enough about that--let's get to the good stuff.

Hampton Court. (One of King Henry VIII's palaces.)

I had not been here since college which was, well, a while ago, and I didn't remember much about the place except for the Great Hall. I'm so glad we spent part of a day here because the place is beautiful . . . and historic . . . and massive. And it has a hedge maze which we didn't get to see on this trip, but that's why there will always be a next time.

Oh, Henry!

The Victoria and Albert Museum. This is one of those places that I've always intended to visit, but for one reason or another it just didn't happen. But this time it did, and I am so glad. What a beautiful museum!

Even before we stepped inside the doors we got a sense of how important this place is. I mean, it didn't even fall down during the blitz! They kept the bomb marks on the outside of the building to prove it.

Famous sculptures everywhere. I know I've seen this one in a textbook somewhere, but even if I haven't I think he's awfully cute.

We mainly went to the V&A to see their wonderful collection of historic textiles, specifically historic samplers which my sister, Jenn, is really into. It's kind of her hobby.

You can go into this big room that looks like a library and pull out these frames that hold all sorts of old ("antique" just doesn't seem to begin to cover it. Is it an antique if it's over 600 years old?) fabric samples.

The biggest thrill, though, was finding the many cross-stitched samplers that they had because, like I said, my sisters' into that kind of thing. Here she is examining the work of some 7-year-old girl. Amateur.

And here's a close-up of another sampler that I thought was lovely. You can see by the advanced stitches here that this girl was probably something like nine when she stitched this one.

The biggest thrill for me that day was seeing the handwork of Mary Queen of Scots. This was exciting to me because last spring I read "The Other Queen" by Philippa Gregory which was about Mary Queen of Scots, and in the book it talks a lot about how she loved to stitch. And then I stumble upon some of her handiwork. Her actual fingers stitched these pieces!

. . . in the 1500s!!!

I don't know, something about history and historical fiction coming together in one place just made me have to sit down for a while and ponder.

And since this post is getting veeeeery long, I'm sure you'll need to sit and ponder a while, so I'm going to end our history lesson/travel post for today. Be sure to come back tomorrow, though, when I'll tell you about one of my very favorite days of our trip.

I can't wait!!



  1. Oh, the glory of history and historical fiction coming together! I love it!

    I would enjoy looking at all those samplers with Jen too.

    Thanks for all the pictures and the details. Give us more!

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  3. Wonderful! I too like "old" things, and the thought of seeing something that is over 500 years old is nearly overwhelming. America is so YOUNG!!! I am so enjoying experiencing your trip through you :0! I'll be back tomorrow!

  4. How cool!! I'd LOVE to go there!! =)

  5. I loved seeing the needlework. I'm as impressed as you are with Mary of Scott's sampler. How wonderful to see the work of her hands.

    I have one other friend who is constantly filling my eyes with images of castles and fountains and lovely art work. She and her family are living in Germany for a few years and they travel a lot through Europe, constantly posting pics for us all to enjoy. I've seen so much that I may never "really see" through your pictures and hers. I really do enjoy them. Thanks for sharing.

  6. This is sooo coool! Thanks for sharing your trip with us!!