SINCE 2006

Jennie's Blog

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Chatsworth’s Masqued Ball (or “Down the Rabbit Hole with Alice!”)

I stepped upstairs to get a shot of The Painted Hall from above. Beautiful space for a soiree!

When my husband first surprised me with this special trip, it was early enough that I’d have time to put together my costume for the masquerade ball at the end … but, naturally, grandiose schemes were the first to cross my mind! I could totally see making a 1780s take on the White Queen, from panniers to a towering powdered wig! Then common sense (and the deadline and my actual suitcase space) reined me in, and I decided to go for something far less ambitious but still fun.

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Off to Nottingham!

Looking down from the station toward the hotel.

I repacked my suitcases Friday night to squeeze in all the fabric I’d gotten on an outing with Suzi on Wednesday (I wish I’d taken photos — SUCH a fabulous shop!). The next morning, Keith drove Cathy, the baby, and me to St. Pancras Station, which I’d never seen before. Goodness! It is an absolutely jaw-dropping example of Victorian Gothic architecture.

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Harrods and Selfridges at Christmas

Miss Seamstress Mouse makes a lovely tutu for her fashion doll client.

Cathy and I took in the Harrods windows after our afternoon tea at the V&A Museum Cafe’. It was quite dark by the time we stepped out of the Knightsbridge tube station and walked toward the famous store (that early London dusk in December!). My phone battery gave up the ghost at that point, so Cathy graciously shared all her photos with me:

Harrods by Night

Harrods by Night

Caroling mice in a window filled with "snow."

Caroling mice in a window filled with “snow.”

A giant marionette in a shimmering gown. The windows had a toy theme in 2015!

A giant marionette in a shimmering gown. The windows had a toy theme in 2015!

The smallest windows along the sidewalk were filled with tiny tableaux of mice at play with full-sized shoes, jewelry, and more. Such fun!

The smallest windows along the sidewalk were filled with tiny tableaux of mice at play with full-sized shoes, jewelry, and more. Such fun!

The conductor mouse leads with his baton.

The conductor mouse leads with his baton.

Two mice feast and celebrate together.

Two mice feast and celebrate together.

Miss Seamstress Mouse makes a lovely tutu for her fashion doll client.

Miss Seamstress Mouse makes a lovely tutu for her fashion doll client.

The Piece de Resistance: A life-sized music box ballerina in a resplendent ostrich-tip tutu!

The Piece de Resistance: A life-sized music box ballerina in a resplendent ostrich-tip tutu!

We stood and gawped as the sparkling marvel twirled on her box.

We stood and gawped as the sparkling marvel twirled on her box.

The amount of work that went into this costume was astounding.

The amount of work that went into this costume was astounding.

Simply amazing...

Simply amazing…

On Friday evening, we took the bus up to Oxford Street. This was my first time there at night, and I got totally turned around and took us down the wrong way (right instead of left, in case you’re ever there stepping off a Number 12 bus from points south!). It was a long, long walk from Selfridges in the end. Oh, well. We got a workout and saw all kinds of things, including carolers, bands, and dance groups out on the sidewalks. All the trees on the street were decorated with silvery blue fairy lights that had an “icicle” effect with random “drops” falling — wish I could have captured a video!

Lights on Oxford Street

When we finally reached Selfridges, we weren’t as impressed with their windows (Harrods definitely won the holiday windows award, in our books!). They followed a fairy tale theme, but some of them left us scratching our heads. Here were the ones I liked enough to photograph:

The Miller's Daughter spinning straw into gold...with a spider's web?

The Miller’s Daughter spinning straw into gold…with a spider’s web?

Goldilocks sitting in a tree...

Goldilocks sitting in a tree…

The Three Bears' Chairs with owls (?) and porridge.

The Three Bears’ Chairs with owls (?) and porridge.

I liked the tiny lit windows in the trees in one window.

I liked the tiny lit windows in the trees in one display.

A Giant Gingerbread House...but no Hansel or Gretel.

A Giant Gingerbread House…but no Hansel or Gretel.

Tiny Paddington Bears all around, thanks to the anniversary!

Tiny Paddington Bears all around, thanks to the anniversary!

We walked back to Regent Street and boarded the bus for home in a light sprinkle of rain. My feet were dead tired, but the baby was sound asleep in my carrier, and it had been a fun evening. Next time I’ll share about our trip to Nottingham and Derbyshire from St Pancras!

Fine Art, Wedding Gowns, and a Police Box!

This is my favorite room for its skylighted ceiling, rich red backdrop, and collection of amazing 15th-17th-century paintings.

Suzi had a morning appointment on Friday and urged Cathy and me to do something on our own. She and Keith would meet us for lunch around 1. So we took the bus to Oxford Street, then walked past Selfridges to Manchester Square, home to the stunning jewel box that contains The Wallace Collection–one of London’s best kept art museum secrets.

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Fortnum & Mason at Christmas

Wine and whiskey bottles displayed in a cascade of

After Cathy’s arrival, we decided to simply hop a bus up to Piccadilly Circus and walk around as dusk fell, enjoying the lights of Piccadilly Street, Regent Street, and all the lovely little side streets that connect the two. It begins to grow dark around 4pm at that time of year, so it’s quite easy to catch all the lights without being out very late.

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Christmastime in London and Derbyshire

As a very early Christmas surprise in 2014, my husband gave me a small gift bag in November and asked me to open it. When I unwrapped the tissue paper inside, I found what looked like a Mardi Gras mask and felt completely puzzled. “You’re sending me to New Orleans?” I asked, incredulously. He laughed and told me to guess again.

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Whatever happened in 2014?

And a delightful photo of the entire group (including four extra guests who came for the promenade). Such lovely frocks and accessories!

After a year of careful planning and hard work, we did, indeed, put together a marvelous tour itinerary, revisiting some favorite spots from the 2012 tour and adding a new costumed event. But, due to a crazy change in immigration law where we live in Africa, my travel visa lapsed and could not be renewed until after the tour! Thankfully, my well-traveled and very gracious husband stepped in and lead my tour for me, and I chimed in on Skype now and again to chat with the group and see how things were going. It was a huge disappointment to miss my own trip, but I’m so glad it went off without a hitch and was a roaring success. Here are some photo highlights thanks to Cathy Hay of Your Wardrobe Unlock’d, who was a special speaker on this trip and took lots of pictures!

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Off to England!

I'm headed to the UK to lead this year's Historical Fashion Tour. My group will be in Bath for the opening of the Jane Austen Festival, then in Winchester and London. You can follow us over on my Facebook page, where I'll be posting pictures and insights from the trip.

I’m headed to the UK to lead this year’s Historical Fashion Tour. My group will be in Bath for the opening of the Jane Austen Festival, then in Winchester and London. You can follow us over on my Facebook page, where I’ll be posting pictures and insights from the trip.

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Closing out the 2013 Tour list!

Well, the little time I’ve had online has been spent working on this year’s tour instead of formatting pictures from last year’s! Time is flying by far too quickly. In less than seven months, we’ll be in Bath, Winchester, Chawton, and London, touring Jane Austen sites and viewing historical fashions up close.

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Catching up…?

Our group after the Grand Costumed Promenade. I am always so proud of our group's incredible costumes--this year's were stunning all 'round!

Yes, it has now been over four months since I promised to finish blogging my last trip, but I plead Kenyan Internet! It has been turtle-slow since October, which has made it difficult to do very much at all, especially with photos. But I’m busily organizing pictures this month and hope to complete the final few days of our trip soon.

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