Although it was not our primary activity, our trip to London wouldn’t be complete without at least a cursory look at the town’s “tourist attractions.”   I did find it fascinating that my photos, taken in full color without filters managed to capture London’s overcast nature:

Buckingham Palace:



The Queen is in attendance:


Big Ben:


The stroke of twelve – I wished I had taken audio of the chimes:


The Eye – In my opinion this is a hideous structure that is totally out-of-place:


The Thames:


With the camera zoom you can see the albatrosses drying their wings on a buoy.  They were sitting on almost all shown in the above picture:


While not necessarily British by nature – I still found these black and white images fascinating:


I liked the shadowy image of this shot “quoth the Raven:”


On a more colorful note, these are buskers playing in the  Portobello Market section off of Notting Hill:


You might not recognize this next item immediately:


This clock is found hanging from the ceiling in one of the great rooms of The Victoria and Albert Museum.  The museum of decorative arts and design is the world’s largest, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million “objets d’art.”  The clock commemorates the state opening of the finished Museum on 26 June 1909. There are so many incredible pieces to look at that our quick walk-through of a few hours only covered a tiny section, but we made sure we took at pass at the jewels:

Pinwheel of gemstone rings – I’d wear any one:



One of the many diamond tiaras on display:


This stunning glass chandelier which hangs in V&A’s Rotunda, is a fairly modern piece, constructed by artist Dale Chihuly in 2001. This is the same artist who created the colorful glass pieces in the Las Vegas Bellagio Hotel:


But enough of tourism, let’s now get to one of the main items on our itinerary – a surprise birthday tea service for my friend Sande:  Lenore and I had made all the arrangements prior to our trip – the only thing Sande was aware of was that we were going to a traditional tea.

Of course I couldn’t plan a tea without delving into the history of afternoon tea, and I must admit I learned a thing or two.  For example, the British tradition of High Tea began in the mid 1700s as an afternoon meal usually served between 3 and 4 o’clock.  Interestingly it was a meal for the working class man, who took his tea  standing up or sitting on tall stools, thus earning the term “high.”  The meal also including cakes, scones and other filling snacks.

Gradually, the upper class adopted this afternoon meal and it became an important event on social calendars. For these people of leisure the tea  served a practical purpose, allowing  the opportunity of a substantial meal before attending the theatre, or playing cards. Since the evening meal or Supper was not usually served until eight o’clock the afternoon tea provided some nourishment between the long period between lunch and dinner.

It was also around this time that one John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, had the idea of placing meat and other fillings between two slices of bread. Voila!

During the 1880’s upper-class society women would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea which was usually served in the drawing-room between four and five o’clock. This afternoon tea consists of a selection of dainty sandwiches, including of course, cucumber sandwiches as well as scones served with clotted cream and preserves. Cakes and pastries are also served.

All of the above was included in our surprise tea with the addition of a strawberry birthday cake, champagne and party poppers served with impeccable style in front of the crackling fireplace in the main parlor of the Egerton House Hotel:


Scones, cucumber and smoked fish sandwiches – thank you, John Montagu!


The gingerbread men were my favorites:



The scones and clotted cream were also scrumptious:



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There was an enormous amount of food and we couldn’t finish it all – so we asked the wonderful staff of the Egerton House to join us in our celebration.  All bellies were full and happy.

But the fun wasn’t yet over.  Our poppers not only contained a burst of ribbons but also a gift for each of us.  While they aren’t the Crown Jewels, these are still a treasured memento:



We so enjoyed our short London jaunt and stay at the Egerton House that we are considering making this an annual tradition.  If we do, I am going to try to get my friends to join me in dressing the part, as these ladies did back when:


Afternoon Tea, Kate Greenaway, 1886




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