January 24, 2007

Kew Riverside Has Snow Too

OK, so it is not quite as spectacular as Denver but this is a lot of snow for London!

January 19, 2007

Windy London - Fallen Tree and Winter Daffodils

It was very windy in London yesterday. Kris heard reports of gusts of up to 75 mph. That afternoon, I did hear an enormous crack. I looked out the window but could not see what tree had fallen. I was afraid to go out for fear of being blown away!

When Banjo and I went out for a walk this morning, this is what we found across the Thames path in front of our house.
I just had to return home to get my camera, much to Banjo's annoyance.

We continued to the Doggy Park where I admired the lovely daffodils, marvelling on how well they survived the wind relative to the giant tree I had just photographed. Banjo showed that he thought the daffodils were special too, in his own way.

January 17, 2007

Kew National Archives - Alcohol in Britain Exhibit

Since I practically live next door to the National Archives in Kew, I visit fairly often. I wish I had known about the free internet access when we had moved to Kew but my computer had not yet arrived or been set up. There is also a nice cafeteria and great shop. Last year, I enjoyed the free tour of how the National Archives operates, including the complicated system to request and then retrieve books and materials (similar to what is used by the British Library).

In addition to the Domesday book, there is always a somewhat "quirky" exhibit. This time it was on the love-hate relationship Britain has had with alcohol. It only took 30 minutes to see but it was fun.

January 15, 2007

AWC National Art Gallery & The Art Fund Card

I joined the AWC tour of the National Gallery Sainsbury Wing. As we walked from Embankment to the National Gallery, I enjoyed our guide's references to "King Elizabeth" and "Queen James" as he explained how the Duke of Buckingham acquired so much property. We all enjoyed the tour and dialogue (vs. straight lecture).

After getting our Tex Mex fix at the Texas Embassy, I returned alone to the National Gallery to finally see the Velazquez special exhibit and to test out my new Art Fund Card. I am happy to report that my card was honored and I was given 50% off of the regular exhibit price. The exhibit itself was very crowded and it was a bit difficult at times to get close to some paintings. But I enjoyed the exhibit and was grateful not to have missed it.

January 11, 2007

KCWC Royal Fashionista Michael Talboys

Michael Talboys talked about what it was like to design for Queen Elizabeth II, as an assistant to one of her two primary and of course British designers - Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies.

Michael described the challenges of matching the gowns to country flags and themes, not always knowing how hot or cold it might be, the compromises Queen Elizabeth made to perhaps celebrate a joyous occasion in one country while in personal mourning, the constant struggle to convince her to wear larger hats, and the practicalities of sewing little weights so that a dress NEVER blew upwards in public. And yes, Queen Elizabeth had a fabulous figure as a young woman: 5'4" tall -- 36" bust -- 22" waist!

Michael also introduced a woman who was involved in the embroidery of every major gown, regardless of the designer. She brought samples of her work and described how the work was done. She is not training anyone to follow in her footsteps but was scheduled to demonstrate her craft at Kensington Palace later that week.

Michael joined us later for lunch and graciously circulated between tables, so we all enjoyed those extra tidbits of gossip that are best reserved for more intimate groups.

January 10, 2007

AWC Hike - Idyllic Shere and Armed Robbery

Our AWC hiking group took the train to Gomshall and walked to idyllic Shere, where the movie Holiday was filmed. Our leader insisted we take a short stroll through the village because it was so peaceful and cute. As we rounded the corner, there were police cars and police tape blocking the road. Apparently, there had been an armed robbery of the Lloyds TSB just minutes before we arrived.

BBC reported that no shots were fired and no staff or customers were hurt. However, the robber himself may have been injured when he was struck by a vehicle while fleeing. He was described as a swarthy-looking white male, between 5ft 3in and 5ft 5in tall, and of slim build. He was wearing a dark blue coat and dark scarf, and carried a dark holdall.