A very Tudor day at Hampton Court

Yes, we know it’s out of season to visit Hampton Court Palace and make the most of the beautiful gardens, but we had two crucial things… A beautifully crisp, sunny day, and [perhaps more pertinently…] half price entry (valid until 13th February 2015). So, we headed out to one of the prettiest parts of suburban London to visit the huge Tudor palace.

Hampton Court Palace

Henry VIII, responsible for large parts of Hampton Court, was a proud man – nowhere more evident than in the Tudor rose emblem found throughout. Except maybe his relationship history. That could take some beating.

Tudor Rose ceiling at Hampton Court Palace

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Royal Tour – guest photographer

[Normally I’m the one behind the camera, but in our “guest photographer” posts, I take a back seat while my other half upstages me using my old camera… these are the results]

And I’m back! This is my second time holding the camera…

Blurry tube

A pretty house, spotted on the way to Buckingham Palace:


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A short Royal Tour

Last weekend we fancied a trip to Spencer House, a Historic Houses Association property, as they were doing a National Trust member BOGOF offer, so we went while we had the chance! It was beautiful, although at £12 each not the cheapest option if you’re paying full price. However, there was a strict ban on photography [boo 🙁], so we thought we’d include some shots from the rest of our day.

From Spencer House we wandered down towards St James’s Palace, and saw this beautiful building – and many others! This was, in fact, an HSBC – one way to make that trip to see your bank manager more enjoyable…

HSBC lampposts

St James’s Palace was intriguing – quite different in look from the other royal residences, like Clarence House, I realised it had rather fallen under my radar.

Lamp at St James's Palace

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Westminster Hall – introducing our Guest Photographer

So we have some special news for you today… And we’d love to know what you think!

Since the photographer half of us has just bought a new camera, the Canon 70D (details over on our Twitter) there’s his old 600D around the place. He’s looking to sell it, but hasn’t yet, so he very kindly offered it to me temporarily to try out a few shots. Although I’m terrified of dropping it, I’ve been having a brilliant time on our photography days out (making heavy use of the ‘automatic’ setting…). I’d love it if you’d have a look at my efforts and see what you think! Suffice to say I won’t be taking over as the primary photo-taker in this relationship, though…

NB: read this post first for an explanation of where we went.

Chandos House:

Chandos House light

Houses of Parliament:

Houses of Parliament

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Things of beauty: Chandos House and Westminster Hall

As part of the wonderful Open House weekend which swept across London recently, we braved the queues and decided to go and visit a couple of the open venues. But first, a gripe… Although the Open House concept is amazing, and the execution good too – friendly staff, efficient queuing and a huge number of open places – the app is genuinely terrible [so frustrating]. Without opening times and days despite them being on the website, entire venues going AWOL, and with an impossible map, we had problems planning where we wanted to go and started the Sunday heading to Portcullis House which was in fact closed. (Annoyed, we ventured on to Westminster Hall, which looked fairly uninspiring in the Open House listing; fortunately for us, it was actually one of the highlights of the whole project.)

But first, Chandos House. Rather random, and again not portrayed favourably on the Open House publicity, we chose it for the Adam brothers’ name and the fact that it was just behind Oxford Street, which was on our way elsewhere. However, it was possibly one of the most exquisitely gorgeous gems I’ve seen in London.

A confection of sparkle and pastel colours:

Chandos chandelier

It was designed by the Adam brothers as a showcase of their design talent, and is now owned by the Royal Society of Medicine. You can in fact stay here, and it’s a remarkably reasonably priced hotel for such a central location – recommended for a special and secret stay in London!

Chandos chandelier mirror

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Open House: Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Recently, the wonderful Open House weekend took place in London. Although our Sunday visits had a few issues (see the next post for that story!), on Saturday we headed to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to take a peek inside. The queue was terrifyingly long but surprisingly fast-moving, and we were inside and through security in about 20 minutes.

We were awed at what we saw when we entered! Surprisingly opulent and with stunning ceilings and colours, we very much enjoyed wandering around.

Designed by Gilbert Scott (along with other large parts of London!), there are various beautiful rooms which are [casually] used as meeting and conference rooms by the Foreign Office.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

There are huge, grand halls, making it hard to believe it was a petition away from being demolished, being run down and largely derelict 50 years ago.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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Scandal at Cliveden

For the bank holiday weekend, we headed to Cliveden to see for ourselves the luxurious yet scandalous home of the Astors and the Profumo affair. A beautiful house that is now a rather grand hotel, the grounds are managed by the National Trust. (Unfortunately there’s a lot of scaffolding at the moment!)


There was a new rose garden, which gave ample opportunity for some close-up shots…


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Cornwall part 2 – Lanhydrock

On one of our Cornwall days the weather was looking faintly ominous, so we decided to visit Lanhydrock, a National Trust property near Bodmin. With over 50 rooms open to the public alongside beautiful gardens and over 900 acres of land, it was possibly the most impressive National Trust visit I’ve ever had. The focus of the Trust’s vision is to bring the family (the Agar-Robartes) alive for visitors, and they certainly managed to do so for us.

From the impressive gatehouse, built in the 1500s, down the drive to the house, largely burned down and rebuilt in high Victorian style in the 1880s, we were discovering gorgeous architecture and interesting details throughout our visit.


Doorway in the main courtyard:


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Quick visit to Richmond

[Just the iPhone 5s today, DSLR stayed at home]

On another beautifully sunny Sunday (we’ve been very lucky this summer) the Month of Sundays pair headed out to Richmond to see what we could find. We stumbled upon a particularly retro Tesco Express:

Posh Tesco

If you don’t mind a bit of a walk, there’s a free car park near the National Trust’s Ham House, from where we walked along the river to the centre. There were some extremely photogenic cows:

View over Richmond park

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The Vyne, Hampshire

[Due to an unfortunate incident the DSLR was out of action for this trip, so the iPhone 5s had to step in]

Recently, we decided to spend a day away from London and headed to The Vyne, a beautiful Tudor house in Hampshire.

The Vyne

Coincidentally, they were having a Tudor weekend so we got involved – with a hog roast and traditional pastimes, such as archery. There was a bit of girly success here, which was extremely exciting (please note the arrow directly in the centre…) [Please also note that it was an unsporting extra arrow that gifted this victory]

Golden arrow

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