Friday, 28 October 2011

Tea at the Orange Pekoe

If you are ever in London and want to partake of a delicious traditional afternoon tea, but not at a hotel where you have to book months in advance, then the Orange Pekoe Cafe in Barnes Bridge is the place to go. Not only is the food fabulous, but also it has a lovely relaxed atmosphere, is prettily decorated and the price is very reasonable. Last week a friend and I decided to go there as we felt like a spot of proper tea. :)

The menu which is stuffed full of countless teas. All of which you can go and smell if you feel the urge. :) Every time I go to Orange Pekoe I am thoroughly boring and choose the same tea - their version of Lady Grey! :)

Sandwiches, cakes and scones. The cake was SO delicious. You can choose from about 5 different flavours, but of course I went for chocolate. :) One thing I love about the cafe is that just before you feel like eating your scones, you can tell one of the waiters/waitresses, and they will whisk them away to be heated up so that they are the perfect temperature when you come round to eating them! :) 
They also offer a champagne tea.

Some of the tea pots that are scattered around the cafe.

I just love this wallpaper. :)

Saturday, 15 October 2011

RNA's Regency Reader's Day - A Regency Celebration

A while ago I posted about a Regency day that was being held by the Romantic Novelists Association at the Royal Overseas League. When I wrote that post I wasn't considering going as I though it was mainly for authors. But after emailing the organisers, who told me it was for anyone with a love of the Regency or novels set during that era, I decided to attend. The ROL is just off St. James's Street in Piccadilly, and is an old Victorian gentleman's club (which now allows women to be members), and I have to admit that the venue was part of the draw. Many of the London clubs have beautiful interiors and I really wanted to see inside the ROL. So I bought my ticket and started getting suitably excited about a day of wearing Regency clothing and talking about Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer.

The day before the event I received an email from the guy who runs the Napoleonic Re-enactment group that I am a member of. Apparently the RNA wanted re-enactors at the event, and he was wondering if I wanted to be put down for it. Going as a re-enactor would have meant attending for free, but I couldn't get a refund for my ticket!! Typical!! Always happens that way. Oh well I was determined to enjoy the day.

I arrived at the ROL just after 9 am (carrying my Regency outfit - I didn't have the courage to wear it on the tube or through the streets of London by myself!) On arrival I was given a beautifully bright pink bag containing some freebies (a few Austen-inspired books, chocolate, a magazine) which was lovely.

The first event of the day was a discussion on Jane Austen between four authors. Very interesting.

We then had a tea break, and I changed into my costume ( I wore my white gown with my green spencer).

After the break the author Dr. Jennifer Kloester gave a talk on Georgette Heyer. She is very knowledgeable on Heyer and her talk really was fascinating, especially hearing about who she met and what she uncovered whilst doing the research for her books - she has written a biography on Heyer and also 'Georgette Heyer's Regency World'.  I mentioned in a previous post that my parents had given me a copy of 'Georgette Heyer's Regency World', it took me a while to read but I did really enjoyed it, it was slightly repetitive at times though. Luckily I had brought it with me as I was still reading it so Jennifer kindly signed it for me. :) I was really annoyed that I hadn't thought to bring any of the other regency-style books that I have as there were quite a few authors of Austen spin-off/Regency style novels at the event. Sadly I didn't have the courage to talk to any of the either. Oh well.

Next was the dancing. It was run by the guy who runs the 19th century dance club I go to, and was great fun. I didn't manage to take a photo of the class as, like Lydia Bennet, I danced every dance :).

Exhausted after the dancing, I was very thankful that next on the agenda was lunch - Not amazing but enough to stem the tide of hunger.

I then decided to attend the Parlour Games event (there were times throughout the day when events were running at the same time). Apart from me, only 2 other people joined in on the games, so there were four of us including the lady teaching the games. Despite the lack of attendees we had great fun playing Vight-et-Un and Spillikins (pick-up-sticks, which I never knew was really called spillikins!)

We were given chocolates to munch on whilst playing. They were very yummy and I loved the quote on the side of the chocolate box!!! lol :)

The next event was optional and an added expense - Afternoon tea at the East India Club (another London club). I had originally decided not to go to this, but on the day they had spare tickets so I bought one. Well what can I say. The tickets were £18 each and it was not worth it.

We walked over to the EIC with our military escort, it was hilarious seeing people's faces as we strolled along in our costumes :).  The tea was being held in the room where the Prince Regent was eating when he received the Waterloo Dispatch which stated that Napoleon had been defeated. It was a wonderful place to have tea but sadly the tea itself was pretty dismal. All we got was one tiny pastry and a cup of tea!! 

However it wasn't all bad as we were given a wonderful dramatization of the Regent receiving the dispatch and the ball in Belgium that was held by Lady Richmond before the battle started.

A rather blurry photo of one of the authors who took part in the dramatization. For once the resulting image wasn't the fault of my camera. The guy wouldn't stand still long enough for me to take a non-blurry photo!!

The view from the EIC

The room in the EIC where we had tea - the Waterloo Room

Tis pretty I must admit :)

I took a few sneaky photos of other rooms in the IEC

School shields line the walls of the stairs. 

The library (taken quickly through the glass panel in the door, as we weren't allowed to take photos outside of the Waterloo Room)

After tea we walked back to the club for the final event of the day

One of the soldiers

And another - Matt, he is in my re-enactment group and was the only member who turned up, apart from myself.

The final event was a Q&A with 4 authors and a man who works for Naxos (the audiobook company that has put all of Austen's novels on cd). The theme was Jane Austen and the influence behind the storylines and characters in her novels, and also the novels that her work has inspired. It was interesting and one of the most exciting things that I learnt was that many a screen writer and film producer has tried to adapt one of Georgette Heyer's novels into a film, but has been be unable to obtain the funding. As a Heyer fan I was very excited to hear this, as though none of the projects had worked so far, it meant that people were trying to adapt her novels, and that one day one or two might find their way to the screen.

All in all, despite the few disappointments, it was a lovely day and I really enjoyed myself. :)

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Tea at the Savoy

Last Thursday, as a treat for graduating from uni, I went with my parents to have afternoon tea at the Savoy Hotel. The hotel has only recently opened after a multi-million pound refurbishment, so I was very eager to see what it looked like. The Savoy is essentially an Edwardian hotel although it was heavily remodeled in the 1930s, and was famous for its beautiful art deco interiors. When the new owners bought the hotel a few years ago and announced that they were going to refurbish it there was quite a bit of excitement, until they started ripping out its art deco features. There was a bit of an uproar, as the Savoy is seen as very much of a London icon. I, for one, was angry that the history of the hotel was essentially being destroyed (especially as I had never seen inside the building :) ). I truly thought that the new hotel would look awful.

I was pleasantly surprised though. Not only are the new interiors beautiful and really tastefully done (apart from a rather disgusting animal print sofa), some of the new decoration is even better than the previous one.

This is definitely the case in the Thames Parlour, where the tea was held. It used to be very dark, but now it is beautifully light and the perfect place to spend the afternoon drinking copious amounts of tea and eating cake. :)

The beautiful glass dome in the ceiling of the parlour

The pagoda - odd structure to have in the centre of a room - it was where the pianist played (30s music :) )

Our table

I really like the design of the hotel's china. Tis so pretty. :)

Beautiful!!! :)

Now on to the food - which was delicious, but of course I ate way too much and felt sick afterwards!! :)

Scones and sandwiches which they constantly replenished (really dangerous!!! lol ) (oh and my darling Mama :) )

Second course - pastries. Yes they are all mine!!! :)

Third and final course - We had a choice of 3 cakes carrot, banana, and fruit. You could have a slice of each. I had one of banana and one of fruit. By this time I was close to bursting, but it was so yummy I couldn't stop! :)

Afterwards we went to the Savoy Museum (one room in the hotel). It isn't big but it has some lovely items and photos that are from the hotel's past.

A beautiful fan depicting life at the Savoy in the '30s.

Some of the hotel's original china

A beautiful fan case...

...and the fan that goes inside it.

The only bad thing I would have to say about the tea was that my seat had a few stains and crumbs on it before I sat down (picky I know, but you would think a 5 star hotel would be a stickler about cleanliness!). Anyway all in all it was a fabulous afternoon :) .

EDIT: I forgot to mention that the scones were the most delicious scones I have ever tasted, and so light. :)

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Sense and Sensibility Ball - Chawton

On the Saturday morning after the ball, I met my new friends Jeanette and Aurora at their B&B, and they really kindly gave me a lift to Chawton. We all had tickets to the Sense and Sensibility Bi-Centenary Ball at Chawton House Library that was being held that evening. So off we set on our road trip to Chawton, in our Regency day wear, to the dance practice that was to be held at the house at 11am. We arrived to find that we were the only ones who were dressed in Regency costume, (slightly embarrassing, but it is so much more fun doing Regency dancing in Regency costume, than in modern clothes :) ).  The practice was great fun but the marquee where we did the actual dancing was way too small for the number of people who had turned up. So I was having flashbacks of the dance class I attended on the Sunday in Bath - Regency bumper-cars once again!!!

After the practice the three of us had a wonder round the beautiful garden - the perfect setting for a Regency photo shoot :).


The side of Chawton House

Aurora and Jeanette

Through the gates into the walled garden

Aurora and I posing on the steps - The perfect steps for elegant photos! :)

The front of the house

The long sweeping drive

Jeanette elegantly gliding down the drive. The perfect vision of Regencyness (well maybe not completely historically accurate - she is looking at photos on her camera!!)

For lunch we decided to go to a little tearoom in the village called Cassandra's Cup. 

I wonder why its called Cassandra's Cup... hmmm... :)!!!

And of course you can't go to Chawton and not visit this particular dwelling - The home of Miss Jane Austen. :)

Aurora in the garden of the cottage

Jeanette in the garden as well

In Jane's Drawing Room. Love this bookcase/desk (I can't remember the proper name)

Aurora playing Jane's piano!!!!!

I love the decoration on Georgian fireplaces. :)

Fanny Dashwood's purple bonnet from S&S 08

Worn by Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood in S&S 95. This is what she is wearing when Colonel Brandon's rescues her in the rainstorm at Cleveland. I took rather a lot of photos of this one. :)

The back

Miss Jane's writing table

This gown was worn by Charity Wakfield as Marianne in S&S 08

Detail on the shawl

I love this washbowl. There was also a matching jug.

Aurora in Jane's bedroom. The sign said no sitting! So she hovered instead!! :)

Jane obviously wasn't as tall as Jeanette!!

H.M.S Chawton, which I thought was so cool. Two of Jane's brothers were high ranking naval officers so the naming of this ship was connected to them. Sadly I think it has been decommissioned. 

Mrs Jenning's hilarious cake-like bonnet from S&S 08

the front...

...and the side

Bonnet worn by Emma Thompson as Elinor in S&S 08

The Kitchen

Jeanette relaxing in the kitchen

The Austen family donkey cart

We had such a good time at Chawton Cottage. It was so much fun going round in costume. We got some odd looks and a few photo requests from a few people. I think many of the other visitors thought that we worked there! :)

That evening we went to the hotel I was staying at with another friend, got changed into our ball gowns and headed back to Chawton House... Sadly we weren't allowed to take photos inside the house for legal reasons so all my photos are of the outside before we went in, but there was an official photographer and his photos are on flickr.

Walking up to the house for the ball

Before the ball started, we walked back down the drive to see the village church and where Mrs Austen and Cassandra Austen are buried in the churchyard.

Mrs Austen's grave stone


Chris - her and her husband run the 19th Century dancing club I am a member of. I love her outfit. I think she looks so elegant and very Regency hostess-ish! :)

There were so many people dancing in the small marquee so once again it was Regency dancing bumper cars and it was soooo hot. But overall it was a lovely ball. The next day I caught the train home - it was the end of my Regency adventure. :( (I can't wait for next years Festival!!! :) )