Monday, 8 December 2014

Insta post December 2014 Part 1

Why hello!
I have been a bit quiet not because I have had nothing to write about but there has been so much that I just have a stack of unfinished and unedited posts which I just haven't had time to edit.

So allow me to ease back into the routine with a broad recap.
Say what you like about the Victorians but they built the best railway stations.
We left Paddington station and arrived at Windsor station.
The station is right next to Windsor Castle.
That brick edifice in front of the station is the Queen's favorite home.
We walked through the perfectly English quaint town with its quirks.
That house would have never made it past the worst architect student and yet has survived hundreds of years.

We were going to St Andrews Day at Eton College.
The school has two main days for family and friends of students to come and visit the grounds.  The school doesn't normally allow the public to wander as it does tend to attract a lot of tourists so this was a special day.
Admissions into Eton nowadays is not like the past where alumni forebears guaranteed entry but it still attracts academically, musically, artistically gifted students. 

My freighbour ( half friend and half neighbour ) who I have known since he was in primary school is a King's Scholar at Eton.   
 
They are the top ranking students in all of Eton and are bestowed special privileges.
My frieghbour modeling his special King Scholar's coat which only the scholars are allowed to wear.

The King Scholars also dine separately from the other students in the more glamorous College Hall.


The other students are known as Oppidans. 
The most recent alumni you may know of is Prince William and Prince Harry.


Eton has numerous illustrious alumni but here is one of my favorite writers relatives who scribbled on the walls.

This below is the oldest classroom at Eton dating back to 1500's even though the school was founded 1440.
The library is every librarian's dream and this was one of the days that the library displayed the few existing copies of the Gutenberg Bible for viewing.
This is the famous courtyard from an upstairs library room.
So many activities are held and the music department is renown for their concerts.
This was a jazz concert in one of the many classrooms.
 

The highlight of the day was that our King Scholar was playing in the famous wall game.
The match on this day is between the King Scholars and the Oppidans ( all the other students.)

 
It was a glorious sight to see all the Etonians in their uniforms sitting on the wall.
No one really knows the rules except the players.
The King's Scholar huddled in support of their side and I think they must have been the inspiration for Harry Potter.
Though we had no idea what was going the good news is that the KS team won!!

The other highlight was the Cecil Beaton exhibition that was held at the Colefax Fowler showroom in Mayfair. No pictures were unfortunately allowed.
This was the jib door entrance to the iconic yellow room.
But the Mayfair showroom was the home of Nancy Lancaster and is the site of the famous yellow room which I wasn't allowed to photograph by default.

Here is a picture of what it looks like.
As it is a showroom, the room is normally decorated to showcase the antiques and furniture so changes constantly.

Via
But here is the view from the iconic yellow room.
This was a view from one of the few rooms I was allowed to take a picture of.

After the exhibition, my friend and I went for coffee and have a peak at the Xmas tree at Claridge's which was done by Dolce & Gabbana.  While it was nice part of me was a bit saddened that even trees were branded.
PS the coffee at Claridge's isn't that nice so order something else.

I paid a visit to Sotheby's and half the time 
I admire the lighting more than the art.
I can never get over how empty the previews are.
Such a wasted opportunity as I wrote about here.
Opinions differ but the worst thing I saw this past year was the Allen Jones exhibition.


Oxford Street is the shopping mecca of London and I got completely duped while walking in front of Boots.
As I was walking, I felt and saw snow and was so excited and took pictures trying to capture it only to realize the store was pumping out fake snow!

I wonder if all the retailers and decorators 
have a pre holiday decorating meeting because 
the decorations were all white in the city.
White trees hung at Fortnum and Mason and at Chanel!
Hope you are all well and the prep for the holiday season isn't stressing everyone out!

44 comments:

  1. I do wish I had been lucky enough to have attended Eton or Stonyhurst and then Oxford or Cambridge....but Stephen Fry says the only advantage it really provides is never having to explain why you didn't go there.
    Nancy Lancaster of an old Virginia family is a fascinating woman.

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    1. History and tradition are a rich aspect of it. Nancy Lancaster did a great job of the English country house as sometimes it takes an outsider to do.

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  2. Lovely to catch up with you Naomi, thanks for introducing us to your bright Freighbour! I'm not ready for Christmas at all and though I tried to accomplish some things today I made almost zero progress. Our son hasn't been home since Thanksgiving so the only thing I really care about is having that Rascal home, all under one roof playing board games and watching movies. But I'd better get them some gifts too! ;) Wish I could shop in London, it's so festive looking I think dropping $ on gifts would be very easy.

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    1. My frieghbour is also such a lovely guy which is a tribute to him and his parents. I can't believe that the year is nearing the end. In a way very relieved I must say. Ultimately it is about family and I am sure the memories would be more prized than the presents?

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  3. How fab to have a day at Eton! I had a boyfriend there in the 80s - lots of very silly memories of visits and clandestine assignations! I wonder what he's doing now.... might have to google him!
    The Sotheby's preview was so empty! Crazy!
    I'm sure I'd have been tricked by fake snow too.

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    1. I had been to the june the 4th one but I really wanted to see him play the wall game especially as they won. The exhibitions at the auction houses are so neglected. I feel so guilty and want to spread the word more but still no traction! The fake snow was soooo upsetting once I realized though Ruth!!

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  4. Love this! Have never been to eton - must get there!

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    1. YOu would go crazy at the history of Windsor!

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  5. Oh my. This is all so very Harry Potter. Here in the States we just eat this stuff up. Our schools are all frats and hippies and modernish buildings. And yeah, the Lululemon in my neighborhood spit fake snow at me the other day, too. Ah the holidays....

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    1. I didn't realize how Harry Potter until I was standing behind the scholars! Fake snow in Cali even??

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  6. Glad to have you back. The real oldness of England is not to be discounted:).

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    1. Yes Eton existed before Columbus made his way over!!

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  7. I so love the history. My house from the 1920s is considered old in this neck of the woods so I crave antiquity! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Mind you in London because of the bombings during the war, not many old homes survived here either. a 20's home here is rather respectable!

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  8. ooooh White Christmas trees at Chanel and F&M - must have a peek when I am down next week !!

    Can you believe that it is almost Christmas soon? Incredible, and then NEW YEAR !

    INDIA | http://www.seethesparkle.com

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    1. YOu will love the street lights on Bond Street too - also white! I can not believe it is xmas soon.

      2015? I hope to get to India maybe in 2016 too!

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  9. Happy memories of Fortnum and mason!
    How interesting to go to eton! Wowies!

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    1. It's like Geelong Grammer but older and colder!

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  10. So glad you're back on air - and such an interesting post. Wonderful combination: Eton, Cecil Beaton and interior design, auction houses and Christmas decorations in the London stores. Have always wanted to see the Yellow Room. Your post is a lovely break from the spring storms and heat here in Oz.

    We loved Eton, having paid many visits, and spent at least one Christmas there with a friend (and his wife) who lived in a lovely old College house as he was a master at that time. Even went to dinner parties with other Eton College masters, one of whom, an Aussie, later went on to become Headmaster. But you probably remember what old Evelyn Waugh (who didn't got to Eton) said in "Decline and Fall": something along the lines of "anyone who has attended an English public school will feel quite at home in prison". Thanks for the tip about Claridge's coffee. Where would you say is the best place for a lovely special afternoon tea in London? With scrumptious food and high class tea, great service and beautiful location and ambience? The Ritz? Claridge's? The Savoy? Or somewhere else?
    Feeling rather virtuous as have just weighed up all the dried fruits for the Christmas pud, mixed them with brandy and left to soak. Yes I know, it's very late for this, should have been done months ago, but still.
    Glad you're back on the blog grid! Pammie xxx

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    1. You gave me a gentle nudge bc I was starting to sweat looking at all the unpublished posts!

      Eton and Windsor is such a quaint town that has all the little shops of the old style high street. But it does get a lot of tourists. The teachers there have a nice cushy number too and I think it translates into better teaching bc there is no commute for the staff and makes all the difference. It is funny you mention that quote bc with most public school boys - they are known to make great prisoners - recently there was the Etonian Simon Mann who survived the toughest jail after his attempted coup and they said only an Etonian could have come out of something like that hehe.

      Afternoon tea in London is a funny one - opinions vary so much!! I used to think Dorchester was the best until they changed their scone recipe several years ago. The Ritz is a bit too fuddy duddy. I haven't been to the Savoy since it reopened several years ago but honestly the drinks at Claridges just don't cut the mustard. I like the Connaught though. Will do some research next year and let you know :) Hope you get to join me next year too xxx

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    2. We'll be in Paris in June again next year - and thinking about crossing the ditch for a few days in Cambridge/London - so that would be great to meet up over afternoon tea somewhere! Pammie xxx

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    3. Oh goodie! Will be a project then :))) xxx

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  11. OE's are always such fun chaps! I've not been there for years.
    The AJ exhibition is quite shocking to contemporary eyes. Especially the hatstand, seat, and table
    And the extended festival of shopping once known as Christmas has totally lost the plot! Not Yuletide anymore : (

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    1. I think the AJ was just so boring - I mean sex is so everywhere that only a 12 year old boy would have found it interesting. Harsh I know! Black friday was the pits - and we don't have thanksgiving to even offset that sort of behaviour!!

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  12. I adore learning about the history and traditions of old English institutions. Your day at Eton sounds perfect. And the CB exhibit must have been wonderful. Honestly, when I finally get over there I am calling you up first thing!
    PG's ancestor had a future in engraving-very fancy grafitti.
    Im still searching for the perfect spot for 'tea' in these parts. Not easy to find, even in Boston.

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    1. The CB was just the best - I then went to a showing of an old bbc documentary a few nights after and it just piqued my interest in him even more. Please do let me know and I hope to be able to show you something for you to write about! I say you must start your own tea tradition.

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  13. Such fun to see you in London! As I wandered around town, I have to agree that all of the decorators must have collaborated to produce white decorations! Have been to Windsor, but not to Eton. Had a behind the scenes tour of Oxford which was fabulous!

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    1. It was so good to see you and I wish we took a pic! You need to get to Eton next trip over here - plus I say we go to the Soane next time too xx

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  14. Loved getting a peak of London at Christmas! Yes I'm stressed a bit, but trying not to let it ruin my holiday mood. I loved seeing Eton! Thank you for those very cool photos and an insiders's look. Your freighter (love it), must be a very sharp fellow. For an American, this kind of experience is so fairy tale and I only wish my sons could attend such a place! Happy holidays Naomi and don't stress out! xo Kim

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    1. p.s. Love the train stations in Europe and Windsor's was so cute. Very much like Thomas the Train show with it's darling village and flowers! Another reason to love England.

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    2. It was so good that the scholars are also good at sport!! They didnt have many supporters as the rest of the school support the other side naturally. I think the best thing about Eton is the respect and broad range of interests but I would dare say that a few Etonians would love the american high school life in California that the rest of the world dream about!

      I love the festive spirit but too many parties can get a bit wearing...bah hambug. I am running out of things to wear!!! xx

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  15. So cool to visit Eton. I remember in sixth form my teacher took me to Oxford and Cambridge and I was excited by that, so I'd have been well chuffed to go to Eton. Isn't it interesting how these types of educational establishments put so much focus in to their sports - a good thing of course.

    I was just in London for a few days working and avoided Oxford Street like the plague but I will certainly take a peek before the Big Day. Hope you're having a good week. Christmas never stresses me out but i'm certainly busier catching up with everyone and celebrating xx

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    1. I was just at oxford street snd they are still pumping snow!!!!!

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    2. Got cut off but would you not agree sports is great for kids?? Xx

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  16. Your wonderful post has me hankering for a trip back home. I've never visited Eton, but would love to one day, but have had tea at Claridges, which by the sounds of it, was far better than your coffee. Thanks for sharing all the pics of the whitewashed Christmas trees. Nothing like London at Christmas.

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    1. Yes Windsor is a great town with lots to do but I think eton is a bit harder to really visit and see as it is closed unless you are invited. But the river and high street are old school. But this pumping snow is a new thing that is so confusing!!

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  17. Thanks for returning with another great post!!! So much of England I need to explore beyond London!

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    1. I need to get out of London more!!! But by the way thanks for the card bc I did get it despite my terrible handwriting! ;)

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  18. What a great post, there is so much inverse snobbery about public schools, 'Toff- bashing' is the only socially acceptable prejudice. When you look at these pics, you 'get' why these guys do well in life, all of that dedication and toughness as they fight on those freezing muddy fields. And yes, if they fail, prison is probably a walk in the park compared to their school days! I haven't made it to Fortnums yet, it is usually top of my list for gift hunting, but this year offerings are all a bit more hand-made.

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    1. yes agreed about the inverse snobbery - it seems such a pity that the Brits especially get tetchy about it instead of being proud. I find foreigners just think - great school and it isn't a layered issue. The decorations inside Fortnums wasn't as festive as last year and surprisingly less busier than last year. It seems the mood has affected sales and the budget was blown on black friday!! I say handmade is the way to go.

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  19. Just catching up on blog reading while I scarf down a late lunch...what an amazing day, I love this peek inside Eton. I've always wondered about English public schools and what it might be like to attend one.

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Thank you for dropping by!