One of the conveniences of living in rural England is that London is only a short (and very comfortable) train ride away. In early May, the capital beckoned, so we boarded The Great Western Railway and headed into The City.
This wasn’t quite a ‘spur of the moment’ jaunt. Two events were happening in London that week and I was determined not to miss either one.
At the Victoria & Albert Museum, a Christain Dior retrospective had opened and immediately sold out. I’m a huge fan of Mr. Dior and managed to snag two tickets (can you imagine Roger’s excitement?). I’ve always dreamed of wearing a Christian Dior creation, but until my body morphs into the shape of Audrey Hepburn and I can rationalize spending as much on a dress as I did on my most recent car, this will never happen. Being in the same room with hundreds of his dresses (swoon….) would just have to do. The other event (also swoon-worthy) was the annual Chelsea Flower Show, which is basically the Oscars for garden designers and all things flowering in a country that is dripping with gardens and gardeners.
Trying to describe either event would be … pointless. So, I’ll let my photos do the talking. First, the Dior delectables:
And the flower show….
On the grounds of the Royal Chelsea Hospital (a retirement home for veterans) there is an enormous and very flat lawn that is annually transformed into a landscape of verdant hills, lush valleys, bubbling creeks and shady woodland for the Chelsea Flower Show. It’s a daunting undertaking accomplished within two weeks and then, at the end of the show, it’s all demolished and returned to lawn. There are 20 spectacular ‘show’ gardens, which are viewed by the royal family (this year, one was designed by Kate, Duchess of Cornwall) and judged by the Royal Horticultural Society (of which we are now members, thank you very much). It’s a five day extravaganza, with timed tickets, its own nightly television program and a daily attendance of 40,000 avid gardeners. (This House Beautiful article has great photos and a bit of show history. Due to the crowds, it was difficult to capture the entirety of many of the cutting-edge gardens; you can see a few of them here). Alongside the show gardens, the “Great Pavilion” (a 3 acre tent) is filled to bursting with floral displays and new specimens created by individual growers. Meandering through it all are gorgeous little shops and booths displaying and selling every imaginable garden accoutrement. It is nothing short of a gardener’s paradise. (Fun fact: (well, maybe not quite ‘fun’) Margaret Thatcher and her husband are interred in the chapel at the RCH.)
There’s even a dress code at the show – jackets and ties for the men and ‘floral day dresses’ for women. I lacked the time (and inclination) to seek out a floral day dress, so I stuck a flower in my hair and spent a lot of time standing next to this truck in an attempt to distract the fashion police.
In the evening, we took in another of London’s many cultural offerings – live theatre in the West End and the chance to see an American actor onstage in a literary classic. If you can’t picture Kelsey Grammer singing “The Impossible Dream”, I’m here to tell you that he nailed it!
Meanwhile, back home, our own little garden was blooming and the local ‘wildlife’ had taken up residence
AND… we finally got a sofa! (Goodbye inflatable furniture!) Drapes are on order and art… will be found. Someday.
(Please bear with me as I try new colors and layouts for my blog! It was time to retire the old template. This is a work in progress. If you care to comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts!)