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London - Dior, Chihuly, Champagne, Pimm's, country GTG and more

London - Dior, Chihuly, Champagne, Pimm's, country GTG and more

Jul 21st, 2019, 03:21 PM
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London - Dior, Chihuly, Champagne, Pimm's, country GTG and more

Got home late last Sunday night and finally can get to my TR. This was a short trip - six nights in London and one night out at LHR.

Just a little background: The driver for this trip was the Christian Dior - Designer of Dreams exhibition at the V&A. I so loved the Alexander McQueen - Savage Beauty back in 2015 that I really had to see the Dior. Luckily I belong to the V&A so even though the entire run of the exhibit is sold out (except for a few same-day tix that one can queue for each morning - early) I didn't have to book. So I sort of threw a dart at the calendar and came up with flying from California July 6 and returning July 14. That ended up being a pretty major miscalculation since it had me arriving late morning July 7 which was the final day of the Hampton Court Flower show. But I did and saw enough and more than made up for missing Hampton Court.

I don't plan on doing a blow by blow (but sometimes my TR's often get away from me and have a mind of their own)

Flights and stuff: I booked Business SMF > DFW > LHR to get the lie flat beds over night, and Coach LHR > LAX > SMF to save a boatload of $$. About three weeks after booking I had second thoughts and tried to upgrade the return flight - I was willing to pay money (up to a limit) miles, or both -- but there were hardly any seats available and my only option would have cost an extra 3,000 bleedin' dollars. Uh - no. That was almost as much than my whole airfare in the first place. They did upgrade me in the hour flight from LAX to SMF - big whoop

Flights were uneventful -- I got to use the new-ish Flagship Lounge at DFW. On board dinner was really good - after Champagne, appetizers and salad, my main course was bourbon glazed salmon w/ orzo, sugar snap peas, asparagus and cherry tomatoes and I followed up with the cheese plate and port. Settled in to watch The Favourite . . . and fell asleep about 3/4 the way through. LOVE those lie flats (I picked up the last 'reel' of the film on my return flight - in much less comfortable surroundings)

I had arranged my justairports ride for 90 minutes after arrival and planned a quick break in the Arrivals Lounge. What with landing early, expedited Immigration, and no checked bags, I ended up with a full 90 minutes in the Lounge so had time for a quick shower and a Bloody Mary. Driver was waiting for me right on time and he dropped me in Pimlico about 1:30 and my room was ready

In London Sunday: Because I slept on the flight and already showered, and semi refreshed, after I unpacked, I walked over to Tate Britain to see the Van Gogh exhibition which was fine but warm, over crowded and just a teensy tad underwhelming. Leaving the exhibit I went to the cafe and all they were serving that late (about 4PM) were prepared sandwiches. I bought one and searched for a place to sit . . . when it hit me I must be more jet lagged and loopy that I realized. - I belong to the Tate and I don't have to resort to cellophane wrapped day old sandwiches - there is a lovely Members' Room with food and drinks all day long. I had completely forgotten. I took my pitiful sandwich upstairs to the MR and had a nice glass of wine and relaxed a bit. Then I made my regular visits to Carnation Lily Lily Rose, and a few JMW Turner's.

(I'm having problems with the site so maybe I'll try composing then copy/pasting the rest - But I don't have Word but a generic word processor so who knows what I'll end up with??? )

Next - Monday & Tuesday. Kew, Chihuly, Oxfordshire and a country pub GTG
janisj is online now  
Jul 21st, 2019, 03:40 PM
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Love this and cannot wait for more. Where did you stay?
Bougainvillea is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Bougainvillea View Post
Love this and cannot wait for more. Where did you stay?
Thanks. I stayed at Dolphin Square which is a short walk from Pimlico tube station. I rented a studio which is about 2.5-3 times the size of a typical hotel room. I only used kitchenette for juice, tea (hot and iced, and some fruit). I learned long ago that London flats don't usually provide ice cube trays so every trip where I rent a flat, I bring a cheap plastic ice cube tray from the Dollar store. I start making ice when I check in and as soon as the first tray s frozen I dump it in a plastic bag and start over so by the second morning I have enough ice to last the whole stay.

Monday July 8: I was VERY lucky with the weather - every day was warm but not 'heat wave warm' and it didn't rain a drop until I was leaving Sunday AM. But Monday was especially nice - perfect day to head to Kew Gardens. Slept in a bit so didn't get there until about 11AM. There was a very long queue for tickets . . . and one person in line for members. Last December I got shut out trying to get tix to the Kew Christmas celebrations - It usually sells out /weeks/months in advance. So -- hmmmm - I think to myself "Join Kew, skip that long entrance line and be guaranteed tickets for Christmas @ Kew." . . . So now I'm a member of the National Portrait, the Tate's, V&A . . . and Kew Gardens.

I love Kew - you can spend an hour or ALL day long and there is something for everyone. This visit I was most interested in the glass houses, flower displays, and the Chihuly installations all over the property. I didn't do the tree top walk, or visit the Palace (been there beforeI don't know how many there were in total but a LOT. Plus there was an exhibition in the museum. I didn't spend much time in the museum because I've been to his gallery and a huge exhibition at the De Young several years ago. But in the gardens and especially in the glass houses they were really good counterpoints to the 'real' plantings. First off I had a lovely early lunch sitting outside on the terrace of The Botanist (the nice on-site restaurant) looking out across the lake with a large Chihuly in the center. Had my first Pimm's of the trip - but not my last - a simply wonderful duck breast salad.

Anyone who has not been to Kew -- GO -- if even for all teh amazing glass houses.

After Kew I headed back into town and went to the Playhouse and Duchess theatres to collect my tickets for Wed and Thurs night performances, then went to Covent Garden to wander and shop a bit. Headed back to the flat and had a light supper in the on-site Bar & Grill. I walked a LOT today and during dinner I realized how tired I was - went up the toom, had a nightcap and fell asleep in front of the telly.

(Still having issues with the site so I'll do Tues as a separate entry)

Last edited by janisj; Jul 21st, 2019 at 06:26 PM.
janisj is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 03:40 AM
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I am loving this report so far! Can't wait for the next installment.
willowjane is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 06:31 AM
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Signing on. Have to love those lie flat seats! (And the showers in the Lounge.)

Interested to hear about the Chihuly at Kew, but see it is only on until October.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 06:32 AM
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Veddy, veddy nice. 💣

Pepper_von_snoot is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 06:48 AM
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Jeeze -- typos and syntax problems galore -- but I was lucky to get anything up because the website kept eating my homework . . .

I'll just clarify the last bit >>Anyone who has not been to Kew -- GO --even if just for all the amazing glass houses.<<

Tuesday July 9: This was GTG and old stomping grounds day. I'd been communicating with flanneruk and in some message I mentioned that my old local (the Nut Tree in Murcott) which used to be just a very pretty country pub is now all posh and Michelin starred no less and that next time I 'm in the area and have a car I'll check it out.

flanner came up with a plan . . . Mrs flanner would be busy til mid afternoon, so he would pick me up at Bicester Village train station (you know an outlet mall is a BIG deal when it has its own train station ). We'd go to lunch at the Nut Tree, drive round about through the countryside where I used to live, head to the flanner manse, meet the flanner pooches, then after Mrs flanner got home we'd all travel back to London together because they had a do in town. On the day, plans changed just a tad because the London party was cancelled and Mrs flanner's day had 'busied up' and she'd be delayed. Bicester Village - √, Wonderful lunch on the terrace at the Nut Tree - √, Scenic tour through my old stomping grounds - √, Visit flanner manor and their beautiful garden - √, meet/greet/play with the (adorable/rambunctious) flanner pooches - √, then finally meet the lovely and gracious Mrs flanner. After she got a chance to unwind a bit we took the pooches on a nice long walk through the town and riverside park (I call it a village - fllaner calls it a micro town). Had a really wonderful time.


Then I took the train in to Oxford and back to Marylebone - arriving about 9:30-ish. As I mentioned, the weather was remarkably good and when I got to Marylebone I decided to walk a while because it was such a nice evening. Didn't have a 'plan' but figured I'd find some casual place to have a late supper. As I was strolling south I didn't really find a place right away so I popped into a Pret just before it closed to pick up a sandwich 'just in case'.. Kept walking and before I knew it I was to Portman Sq/Wigmore St/Selfridges (which was still open - ?) / Bond Street. OK -- take the tube home or keep walking -- I kept walking though a bit of Mayfair and over to Park Lane. Still deciding if I would try to eat someplace. I wasn't famished but wasn't really looking forward to the sandwich. On I walked and I get as far as the London Hilton near the bottom of Park Lane. OK what is just about the least 'London-esque' venue . . . Trader Vic's in the basement of the Hilton -- it has been there pretty much unchanged for decades and I decided a crazy tropical cocktail and some sort of pupu platter or appetizers would do just fine So that's what I had - a Sufferin' Bastard and a pupu platter and giggled through most of it. Lunch at the Nut Tree and late night supper at Trader bleedin' Vic's By then it was getting late - could have walked the rest of the way 'home' to Pimlico but decided to just catch a cab from the Hilton.

Just a great day all around.

Next Wed - V&A, Dior, Mary Quant, Prosecco and Champagne all over town, Fiddler on the Roof:

Last edited by janisj; Jul 22nd, 2019 at 07:01 AM.
janisj is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 07:07 AM
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Oh - if anyone is keeping score -- my second Pimm's of the trip was at the Nut Tree (that emoji fits better for Trader Vic's )
janisj is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 07:23 AM
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Enjoying your memories--thanks for sharing!
texasbookworm is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 07:38 AM
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Really enjoying this, janisj! I googled Dolphin Square and, if I got it right, it looks really big. How did you find this place? More soon please!
TDudette is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 08:26 AM
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Reading along here.

I was excited to see there's another opportunity to see some Chihuly at Kew Gardens, but then......October finish. I won't be back in UK until next year now.
margo_oz is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 09:14 AM
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Janis, thanks for detailing this: One thing I really like about your reports is the way you explain your decisions/actions ~ the lurking logic of experience, if you will.

One thing of many, that is!
VonVan is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 02:58 PM
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Thanks everyone

Still plugging away. May take me a couple of days to finish.

Wed July 10 - V&A, Dior, Mary Quant, Prosecco and Champagne all over town, Fiddler on the Roof: Today I set aside for the V&A the whatever else I could fit in in the late afternoon before attending Fiddler on the Roof at the Playhouse Theatre. After a light bite/tea/OJ in the flat I took the tube to the V&A. Got there about 10:30 and headed straight back to the Dior. Even members had a bit of a queue -- but it only took maybe 7-8 minutes. The booked/timed ticket line was very long and there were several staff going up and down the line weeding out people who were too early. Don't know if it was because I was there in the AM or because the McQueen taught the V&A how to better manage this sort of blockbuster - even though essentially every ticket is sold for the run of the show - the crowds in each room were not overwhelming like in the earlier show. It was a brilliant show (haven't downloaded my photos yet but took probably 45 or 50. There were lots of similarities in the staging of McQueen and Dior -- including one 'cube' room about 2 stories high/wide that was entirely niches with sample dress forms/patterns entirely in white and a huge round room with continually changing colors/mood lighting. The workmanship and detail in some of the formal gowns especially was beyond comprehension.

Tried to buy the catalogue to be shipped -- but in the last year he V&A has stopped sending purchases from the Museum gift shops. I could order it on line and they will ship it but not for in person sales. (I ordered the catalog sitting in my PJs back home in California and it should be delivered tomorrow).

After about 90 minutes in Dior I went to the Mary Quant . . . two floors in the usual location of the costume gallery. It was no Dior but I really enjoyed the contrast plus all the 60's culture references. There were videos running showing a very young MaryQ discussing her background and style influences, Twiggy, The Shrimp (Jean Shrimpton), etc.

After that I went up to the Members' room and had a glass of wine and a salmon salad then spent some time in the furniture galleries and re-visited the jewelry vaults.

Walked up Brompton Rd and when I got to Harrods - went in just to see if they still carry the Halcyon Days enamel boxes I collect (they did for years then stopped a few years ago - but I had seen some on the Harrod's website). Yes they do -- but none I was interested in. Went upstairs to the new (re-located/re-imagined) Champagne bar and had a glass of . . . Champagne

Walked to Victoria and took the tube to Embankment and the short walk to the Playhouse Theatre in Northumberland Avenue. The Playhouse is one of the ATG owned/managed theatres and several of them offer a 'VIP' enhancement when booking tix. Usually cost £15 and for that you get a pre-theatre cocktail, munchies, a lounge and most importantly . . . a private loo You can enter the theatre early, go to the Lounge, have a drink, are escorted to your seat -- then at the interval you can go back to the Lounge - if you want another beverage you do have to pay for it, and of course there is the WC with no queue AT ALL!!! More than worth £15 IMO

For starters Fiddler is not my favorite musical but this production received wonderful reviews in the London press. And they were 100% right. It was brilliant. There was a thrust stage so a lot of the action extended out into the stalls. I had a great seat in the 2nd row to the side of the stage - the dancing, singing, set were all top notch -- especially the dancing.

Again - it was a gorgeous evening so after the show I walked down Whitehall, Millbank, Grosvenor Rd all the way back home to my fat in Pimlico.

Next - Thurs: Lunch with a friend, The Ritz and Savoy bars, dinner at Spring, and a crazy funny play
janisj is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 03:39 PM
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Enjoying your trip report, Janis.
Kathie is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 04:25 PM
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“Just a little background: The driver for this trip was the Christian Dior..”

Whenever I check this thread, I think justairports has a new employee⭐️
VonVan is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by VonVan View Post
“Just a little background: The driver for this trip was the Christian Dior..”

Whenever I check this thread, I think justairports has a new employee⭐️

- Yeah -- I thought about that the 2nd or 3rd time I opened the thread. . . . probably should have said >> the primary reason for this trip was the Christian Dior . . .<<
janisj is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 04:50 PM
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>>>“Just a little background: The driver for this trip was the Christian Dior..”<<<

That's OK -- still a good read for those of us who couldn't care less about fashion!
Fra_Diavolo is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2019, 01:05 AM
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Love that you visit Carnation, Lilly lily , Rose !
Reading along !
northie is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2019, 06:13 AM
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What are some good restaurants in Pimlico for after the Tate Britian?

Keith and I have tickets for Small Island at Royal National Theatre.

Pepper_von_snoot is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2019, 02:37 PM
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Thurs July 11 -Lunch with a friend, The Ritz and Savoy bars, dinner at Spring, and a crazy funny play:

My plans for today were an early lunch with a friend I haven't seen in nearly 10 years, pre-theatre dinner at Spring and The Play That Goes Wrong, a long running farce that I hadn't seen before.

Kim and I decided on the Wolseley when they start lunch service at 11:30 - She could have a full on lunch and I could have something light since I have an early pre-theatre dinner booking. Perfect. We sat in the cafe side not the main dining room and caught up on a LOT of stuff and made plans to meet up again in December. She left to catch the train home to Colchester and I had the rest of the afternoon to kill. Walked across the street and into the Rivoli Bar in the Ritz. I love this room and there were only a few people there at 2-ish. Ordered an Amber Elixir - wow - what a cocktail(!) Martell, Pimm’s, Grapefruit, Bitters, cherries . . . AND Champagne. So it counts as a Pimm's and Champagne Plus little pepper crackers and other munchies. A young-ish middle aged man and his younger girlfriend came in and sat across from my table. I overheard him saying he'd just gone across the road to get some cash. When there was a break in their conversation I asked which way up or down Piccadilly was the cash point. End of conversation? . . . Uh - nope Come to find out he had just returned to the UK (home is up near Manchester) after living 20 years . . . in the States . . . in California . . . first in the Carmel area (ex-wife got that house) . . . then many years in two different homes - one about 15 miles in just about the poshest Sacramento neighborhood, and the other less than 6 miles. from. my. house. We knew some of the same people and used the same cheese monger and wine manager at the same suburban supermarket!!! His girlfriend thought it was hysterical. (They were only in the bar because their room wasn't quite ready)

Another lovely day so I walked - across the parks and to the National Portrait Gallery to see the Cindy Sherman exhibition. I was only slightly familiar with her work -- Oh my goodness. Don't know how she's slipped though my radar. Really really fascinating -- some were more than a little disconcerting but overall I really enjoyed the show. It was still a bit early for my 5:45 booking at Spring - Skye Gyngell's restaurant in Somerset Hpuse - so I popped into the American Bar at the Savoy for a glass of Champagne.

Then on to Spring -- what a lovely room. All in shades of cream / off white. I will definitely book there again -- this was my only 'posh' dinner this trip and it was a god choice with really good food and very VERY good service. (plus being about a 3 or 4 minute walk from the Duchess Theatre) Dining solo one usually gets decent service - but sometimes . . . not. Spring was terrific - for example being solo it was pretty obvious I would probably only order a glass and not a bottle of wine -- but the wine steward asked me what I was having and what styles of wine I like and brought me three taste samples of his recommendations for a glass that would go well. Starter- jamón ibérico with potatoes tomato and lovage, main - an amazing lamb loin, dessert - an instagram worthy chocolate tart with crème anglaise and rose petals. With a glass of wine and tea afterwards the bill was £79. Reasonable for the quality/ambience/service.

Then across the road to the Duchess for The Play that Goes Wrong. Have you ever been to a play that was TOO funny? Only a slight exaggeration The physical comedy was hysterical but by the middle of the 2nd act my ribs hurt from laughing and and it was almost to 'enough already!! How much more can we take?' Just about every sight gag and pratfall you can imagine. Don't get me wrong - I really enjoyed it but almost too much of a good thing

Started walking home but hailed a cab at Trafalgar Sq and rolled in about 11:30

Next: Fri - Easy, kick back day - A little shopping, a little tennis on the telly, Tate Modern, early evening.
janisj is online now  

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