Well, that is, up until Saturday! Perhaps it’s to do with my living-abroad stint, but these days I just love it when a rare spare day rolls around in my diary and I get to pencil in an entire day with a friend and tick something off my list of Places To Visit. And this weekend it was to be a visit to Hampton Court Palace with my very best friend, Ebony.
After a het-up morning of “shit I didn’t set an alarm, oh I never set weekend alarms for love nor money”, rushing around finding memory cards and tangled earphones and completely forgetting hand cream and my anxiety remedies to arduously shove into my Mulberry Alexa, I raced it to my train with a handful of seconds (42, I counted!) to spare, flat white in hand and roasted veg focaccia in the other. Classy.
Hampton Court Palace is situated just a stone’s throw from London. A 30-minute or so train ride from Waterloo will deposit you right on the banks of the river and a brisk stroll across the bridge brings you to the gates of the history-laden palace.
We took a brief half hour to sit down at the Tiltyard Café and enjoy an obligatory English breakfast tea and brownie with a gossip in that particular and very thorough way that only best friends can manage.
The palace is achingly beautiful, full of remodelled artefacts and indulgently high ceilings.
We got lost several times but the Great Hall, Chapel and Henry VIII’s apartments proved to be excellent respites from tiny droplets of rain and our main mission of perusing the gardens.
The Great Vine :: now, never did I ever guess I’d find myself one day writing about the beauty of a plant on this here, once-fashion blog, but dayUM girl, this vine! The Great Vine is the largest grape vine in the world and is over 240 years old which is simply incomprehensible to me. 240! The plant fills an entire glass greenhouse and it’s pretty cool to see the vines interlock and lace around the structure. Apparently, it grows at around 1cm a day!!
Oh, and the gardens themselves!
So beautiful, full of rich colour and coolly coordinated arrangements in that very English way you’d only find here. The Privy Garden was by far my favourite - representing a formal style of gardening that was rarely seen after this time.
Of course we couldn’t leave without attempting the infamous Great Maze. A hedge maze, Triwizard Tournament style, that is believed to be the oldest in England, it was surprisingly tricky - we tried Google Maps in an attempt to get to the centre - but we came, we conquered, we took the obligatory photo ;)
All in all, a very successful day of being homeland tourists and indulging in overdue best friend catch-ups, I’d say! We wrapped things up with a quick bite at The Mute Swan just over the road (a Malaysian vegetable curry for me and the quiche for Ebony!) before heading home to our respective homes. Perfect.