Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Afternoon Tea at the Alvear Palace

We have a tradition in my family that every year on my birthday we go and have traditional afternoon tea in a London hotel, as I adore tea . This year I spent most of my birthday on planes and waiting in airports, as we were flying out to Argentina to visit my sister who lives in Buenos Aries. This meant that tea in London was out of the question, and I don't know of one airport that has a tearoom. Airports need tearooms!! :) So I wasn't able to stuff myself with cakes and scones on my birthday, but the next day we all went to have a traditional English afternoon tea in an Argentinian hotel. :) It was a bizarre but fabulous experience. The hotel in question was the Alvear Palace Hotel. It was built in 1932 and is considered by many to be the grandest hotel (in a traditional/historic sense) in the city, so of course I had to go there :).

Part of the Reception Hall

The inner part of the Orangery where you can eat tea. We had ours in the main part.

Sitting at our table looking towards the inner part of the room.

A few tables in the Orangery

The window at the back of the Orangery

The Menu

I loved the china. :)

I was intrigued by the fact that they had all the forks laid face down.

The delicious food - it wasn't completely English, (which is understandable as we weren't in England!! :) lol ). There was a mini bagel and some other little buns which contained some unusual ingredients, but most of the food was fabulous. 

The cakes/puddings. They were more pudding-like then cakes but the hotel called them cakes. You could choose three from a whole trolley of them. :)

Strawberry cheesecake :)

A dulce de leche millefeuille. Dulce de Leche is an overly sweet, caramel/toffee type sauce which the Argentinians adore. They put it in everything from ice creams to biscuits and cakes, and they also have it on toast for breakfast. I love sweet things :) but I can't eat more then an alfajore's (an Argentinian sandwich-type biscuit the has dulce de leche as its filling, and it is usually covered with icing sugar or chocolate)  worth of the stuff, I then start to hate the taste as it is too sickly. The rest of my family adore it so they happily tucked into the millefeuille whilst I only had a mouthful.

Overall we had a fabulous time. Most of the food was delicious, the setting was lovely and the staff were wonderful - so friendly and polite. It was one of the best birthday teas I have ever had. :)

Monday, 28 November 2011

Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion

As I was going to be spending most of my birthday on an aeroplane flying with my family to visit my sister in Argentina, my parents gave me a couple of presents to open beforehand. One was the book about the Regency costume exhibition that was held in Milan last year, 'Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion'!!

I had mentioned that I really wanted it but had no idea that they had actually got it for me. :) It is a beautiful book with fabulous photos of some of the gorgeous costumes that were on display in the exhibition, and of some lovely fashion prints.

Here are a few of my favourite:

I LOVE this spencer

...and this gown

...I wouldn't mind this one :)

The embroidery on this gown is beautiful

Closer look at embroidery

I really want a pelisse like this one

I really recommend the book, it is fabulous. I really hope the exhibition comes to England soon. :)

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Keat's House, Hampstead

I have just got back from spending 3 weeks visiting my sister who lives in Argentina. I had a wonderful time, but getting back I realise how behind I am on my posting!!

I volunteer once a week at a 17th century National Trust house in Hampstead. About 6 weeks ago my father came to visit the house and we then both went to Keat's House, which is very near by. I had been meaning to go for a while (ever since I first saw 'Bright Star' :) ) but I never seemed to have the time.

It is a beautiful white house which was built at the beginning of 19th century (but sadly they didn't use it in the film):

The front 

The back (sadly the weather was not great so the photos are a bit dark)

We were luckily in time for a guided tour which was very well done. We learned so much about Keat's life and the sad love story between him and Fanny Brawne and also Fanny's sad life (not only did she loose Keats, but her brother died of T.B about 5 years later. And then 2 years after that her mother was standing outside the front door one evening holding a candle when a strong gust of wind blew the candle's flame towards her and her gown caught fire - she died of her injuries! So sad). The house has changed quite a bit since Keat's time but our guide was very good at explaining to us how it previously looked.

The kitchen and service rooms could be slightly better presented, but otherwise it is a great museum and definitely worth a visit. :)

Sadly we weren't allowed to take any photos inside :(

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A Regency Outing to Hinton Ampner

On the Sunday after the ball, there was a day trip to the nearby historic house Hinton Ampner in Regency costume. The original Hinton Ampner house was Victorian, but in the 1960s it burned down. The then owner, the 8th Earl Sherborne, completely rebuilt the house but in a Regency style. It is now owned by the National Trust.

The ceiling of Hinton Ampner Chapel

The Chapel interior

Everyone gathering in the car park waiting to go into the house.

The beautiful Drawing Room

Another view of the Drawing Room

In the Library - apparently this fireplace was designed for Napoleon

The Study

I LOVE this lady's spencer and bonnet. They are beautiful. :)

The Dining Room

Posing on the stairs :)

One of the bathrooms, it has a fake spider in the bath!!

One of the bedrooms

Posing on a window seat

Another bedroom. I love this bed.

Apparently black-tiled bathrooms were all the rage in the 40's

Breakfast all laid out for the 8th Earl

8th Earl's bedroom

We had a wonderful time wondering around the house and then went to the tearoom to drink tea and eat cake :). And then went on to have lunch at a pub in our costumes. Yes tea and then lunch is slightly the wrong way round but we were hungry :).

Hampshire Regency Dancers' Ball - A Ball at Almack's

In October, The Hampshire Regency Dancers (HRD) hold an annual ball for their members and anyone else who wishes to attend. I have wanted to join HRD for some time but sadly I live too far away from Winchester (where they are based) to attend their weekly dance classes. However, this year quite a few members from my 19th century dance class were attending the ball so I decided to go.

For the last few years the ball has been held at a prep school just outside Wickham in Hampshire, Rookesbury Park School. So on the Saturday morning I got the train down with a friend. The ball wasn't until the evening, but we wanted to get there in time for the dance practice and to check into our rooms (most of us were staying in the school dorms). Well we arrived at Rookesbury Park which, it turns out is a beautiful old Georgian house, and were taken to our dorm. All I can say is that I had serious school flashbacks. Rookesbury had the same rambling, slightly rundown feel that one of my schools had, though Rookesbury was rather more dirty. Sadly the school had to close in July due to financial trouble, so the building hadn't been cleaned since then!!! However luckily we had clean beds and sheets!!

Our dorm - there were three of us staying in it - a Canadian lady whose name escapes me at the moment, me and my friend that I came down with, Suzy. Though it had seen much better days, it was a very large room which I imagine must have been beautiful in its heyday, and it still had its original fireplace (well most of it).

The school seemed to have left stuff behind when it closed, including this poor monkey. :(

The stunning view from our dorm!!

Main part of the house

Front of the house

Lovely window by the Grand Staircase. I am sure the view was originally much better!!

After unpacking we went to the dance rehearsal which was good, but the lady doing the calling was rather strict so it was more a chore than a really enjoyable activity!! After the practice went to the high street, in the local village of Wickham, to buy snacks as we missed lunch.


The ball's theme was Almack's, so everyone had to dress properly - white gloves, knee breeches etc. It also meant that we had to go outside the building through a side door, and then reenter through the main entrance and present our "vouchers" to the patronesses of Almack's who told us if we were allowed to attend the ball. Of course no one was turned away, but they had great fun putting peoples vouchers into "yes", "no" and "maybe" baskets!

After the drinks reception, we all processed into the ballroom in a Grand Promenade and the ball began. It was a lovely ball and I had a wonderful time, but the room was so hot that I tied my fan to the sash on my gown, and every second I had free I was frantically fanning myself!! The other thing I wasn't crazy about was that we had dance cards, so had to go round and ask people to dance. It's alright when you know a good number of your fellow guests but I didn't know enough to fill all the dances and I am rather shy when it comes to introducing myself to strangers!! Anyway it all worked out in the end, as when I didn't have a partner, there was usually someone else who was partnerless who wanted to dance. So I ended up dancing every dance. :) Hence the reason why I have no photos of the dancing. However, the official photographer took loads!

Everyone chatting after the ball had ended

The Ballroom with its decorations

Me thinks they raided a baking shop for these decorations - they looked suspiciously like cupcake cases! :)

Some rather blurry photos of the Drawing Room:

The Drawing Room

The beautiful fireplace

Lovely Ceiling Rose

It was a lovely evening of dancing, chatting and eating a delicious supper (in the school gym :) !! ). We all went to bed rather exhausted, but looking forward to the Regency Outing the next day...