Sunday, November 2, 2014

London Calls Again

Following my trip to Washington I was home for less than 48 hours before leaving for London to visit my sister, Irene. I wouldn't normally plan travel like that, but Irene asked me late last summer if I would come over to help her make some decorating decisions and this was the window that worked for us both. We only see each other a few times a year and I relish the days we get to spend together.

We were blessed with good weather and a few bright and sunny, un-London-like days. (In Hyde Park near the sunken garden pond.)

A few hours were devoted to visiting the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre where I always stop in at Nordic Style to admire their displays.

Irene is an art historian (on account of her Ph.D. she is actually Dr. Irene) so a visit to The National Gallery to see the current Rembrandt exhibit was required. I was a little fixated on the architecture which almost rivals the collection.

We spent the weekend in Wiltshire enjoying long walks in the countryside. Evidently the literary agent for one of my favorite (deceased) English authors lives here.

Back in London I did what I could to help with the children's routine as Irene needed to finish some writing. I love doing the school run - the English uniforms kill me and my niece, if you could hear the way she calls me 'Aunt Philly' - well, I can be counted on to indulge things Mummy does not allow.

On my last day I spent some time before school pick-up exploring Notting Hill where some streets have a distinctly bohemian feel very different from other London neighborhoods. And Portobello Road is a lot of fun for both the antique shops and the boutiques.

Irene (below with Spaniel pup Lily) is eight years younger than I am. At dinner one night she mentioned to our companion that when she was two-years-old I saved her from drowning in our swimming pool. While it is not something I've thought about in a long time, it is my most vivid childhood memory. My movements leading up to and following the incident play like a movie in my head. It was no less than a miracle I showed up at the moment I did and for much of my young life I felt acutely responsible for her. Now firmly in middle age, however, it seems roles are reversing and Irene has begun to feel responsible for my well-being because whenever we are together in London she drags me to her gym (admittedly very luxurious and spa-like) and insists I drink green juices.

I want to tell you - probably because another birthday is fast approaching - that despite the age difference and the fact that, given a choice, I would always take wine over kale juice, we were mistaken for twins more than once.


  1. Thoroughly enjoyed viewing your photos! Thanks for sharing.

  2. What a wonderful life story you have told us, Phyllis! Funny thing, I have a brother who is 14 years younger and I too saved him one day when he was about two and just walked right down the steps into our pool. I was all dressed up for a big party, but went right in. He, of course, doesn't remember it at all!
    London in good weather is unlike any other place, indeed. What a lovely post….

  3. Beautiful photos and what a lovely visit to London. Enjoyed this post very much!


  4. I love sister stories ... My sister and I share quite a few but nothing so heartwarming as this. Your photos are great, and just take us right there. I love the National Gallery ... That and the V&A are the only reason I go into London anymore, which is rare. Give me the shires any day.

    Thanks for the refreshing photos.

    Karen in VA

  5. i was thrilled that you read my blog phyllis as i so admire yours. really had to pop right over when i heard you were here visiting too.
    what an accomplished sister you have, and she looks quite young, so to be mistaken for twins means you are, as the brits would say, a jolly sprite yourself!
    loved your pictures, particularly the countryside.
    yes, to wine over kale any day!

  6. Phyllis what a wonderful trip to spend some time with your sister!
    Great images from the occasion!

    The Arts by Karena

  7. Thank you for sharing your special trip with all of us.
    I'm hoping to go to England for the first time this coming June (for a very big birthday!).
    Your images have added to my excitement!

    Happy Sunday.


  8. Love these special moments! I love those uniforms!! The hat is the best!! xo, K

  9. I just love London!! It is one of my favorite cities. Love all these images and I wish I was there right now! xo K

  10. Welcome back, Phyllis!! What a whirlwind year of traveling. Beautiful photos! Glad you enjoyed good weather there. After all these years, I still love Portobello Rd. It's much smaller now, but I still find treasures. Cheers~

  11. Wow you lucky lady another excuse for "having" to go back to London!!!! Your sister sounds fascinating...and i love the story you shared. These pictures are to die for...sooo gorgeous, coffee table book worthy:)

  12. London is such a wonderful city, and how lucky you are to have family there. She is lucky to have you as a sister/rescuer, and it sounds as though you are equally lucky to have her in your corner. And it sounds like that kale juice is working my friend! Welcome home, and thanks for the beautiful images!

    xo Kat

  13. Your trip sounds dreamy and I'm jealous. There...I said it.
    I've never been and would love to make the trip with my boys. I think we would all love it.

  14. What a wonderful trip and as one that has three sisters, there is nothing quite like them. So many beautiful images and sites and know she was thrilled to have you there to help her!!

  15. Phyllis
    What a wonderful trip. London is a favorite destination of mine and each time I hear of someone visiting I am thrilled to read the details. How fun to have a sister living there...a perfect excuse (as if we need one) to visit the U.K.
    Enjoy your week home. I imagine you're looking forward to catching up with day to day life at home after so much travel.

  16. Cheers to wine over kale! How lovely to have a sister living in London, but like moms everywhere, I imagine you never get to stay as long as you would like, especially when the weather is so cooperative. Thanks for sharing the pictures and the story, Phyllis!

  17. What a wonderful trip, Phyllis. I love London and the English countryside, and now feel like I had a mini vacation there thanks to your gorgeous photos. BTW, I would choose wine over kale juice anytime, too! XOXO

  18. I am in Surrey right now after spending three days in London…such a pretty place.My sister is with me now and we are staying with a good friend…this post makes we want to get out for a good walk in the country side. Love your photos.

  19. Could not have enjoyed this post more! The photographs are, as usual, superb. I thought the checker board garden shot was my favorite until I came across a certain adorable uniformed niece. Indulge away, Philly!

  20. Your great images make me want immediately to book a flight. (Who was the author whose agent had such a lovely home? Just curious.) Hurrah for British design and hurrah Phyllis, for favoring wine over kale juice.

  21. Phyllis, what a wonderful holiday with your sister, my ex-I laws live in England having them to the states was always entertaining. As for the shopping at Nordic style what beauty each piece must have inspired. Did you find time to decorate for your sister? My sister does the same with me. I do wish she lived in England though a great reason to then make time to visit beautiful England.
    Your niece looks so adorable in her school uniform, and I can here your accent and proper English in your entry on her.
    Would have loved to have seen some of the design choices for her home.
    You have a wonderful style here, and love my visits.

    Thank you for taking the time to visit my place, your words joy my day.

    Beautiful inspiring November to you.


  22. Phyllis, what a wonderful excuse to visit London. My brother lived there for over ten years and we frequently visited him and enjoyed London and the surrounding areas from Lake District to the Cotswolds and up to Scotland. Loved it all.

    Your photos are beautiful!

    And your story is heartwarming!

    Have a great week, Elizabeth

  23. Your pictures from your London trip are beautiful, Phyllis! Notting Hill was definitely my favorite stop because of Portobello Market -- You forgot to mention how amazing the food is there too! Visiting the markets on Sundays was always my favorite! I want to go back and walk the countryside after this post.. thanks for sharing!!

  24. I've been meaning to stop by to read this post for awhile... Beautiful pics and I can tell you had a fabulous time! x

  25. I love London. My favourite museum: Victoria & Albert's. Have you ever visited?

  26. Haha! Wine over kale juice - I must agree. :) Your photos are just stunning.

    1. Dear Miranda, Thanks so much for stopping by and inspiring me to revisit so many happy memories. I am glad you are enjoying them, too. Wishing you all the best in 2017.


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