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Posts Tagged ‘Kate Middleton’

If you’ve been around London and paying any vague amount of attention, you’ve probably heard something about the Designs of the Year exhibit at the London Design Museum. What? You’ve never heard of the London Design Museum? Well I guess neither had Justine when I suggested we go one afternoon, so scratch that first sentence.

It’s in a slightly undesign-y looking building near Tower Bridge on the Thames. In fact, it is housed in a former 1940’s banana warehouse, but this all to change with a slated 2014 move to the former Commonwealth Institute building in west London. The museum covers product, industrial, graphic, fashion and architectural design and was a brainchild of Terence Conran, who coincidentally has an exhibit dedicated to him on the entire first floor. The museum costs £10 for adults to enter, which feels a bit expensive in a city full of free museums, but is totally worth it if you are a design geek. Being slightly artsy with a background in product design, I felt like I fell well into this category. As for Justine, she had an upcoming date with a design and art book publisher, so naturally this would aid in the development of dinner conversation material.

Along the River Thames near the Design Museum

The current museum consists of only two floors, but to be honest this was perfect for my museum attention span. When I find myself at places like the Victoria and Albert or the British Museum, I try to see to too much and end up heady and overwhelmed. The Design Museum with a cup of coffee in the cafe and a peruse in the gift shop can easily be done in 2 hours.

As I mentioned before, the entire first floor was dedicated to Terence Conran. At the time, I had no idea who this bloke was, but turns out that’s because his contributions are so woven in to the London experience that I had been influenced by him without even knowing it. The  designer, restaurateur and retailer promoted a whole new style of interior design simplicity that reverberates today across the globe. Looking at his designs, I started wondering what things had looked like prior to this ubiquitous genre. “Like an old Granny’s house,” Justine had to remind me. In my head I tried to contrast clunky wooden furniture with heavily upholstered thick florals next to sleek clean lines and curves. Obviously I’ve spent too much time in London and not enough time at my Granny’s.

Clean Lines at the Design Museum

Teapots

In 1964 Conran opened the first Habitat and later went on to develop Heal’s. He was revolutionary in his displays as they were set up like actual living rooms, which not only taught people how designs could be arranged, but also allowed them to wander in and out of possibilities imagining them as part of their everyday life. I’m reminded of this scene from the movie 500 days of Summer.

And while we are here, shouldn’t we mention Ikea? Being founded in 1943, I can’t say that they’ve necessarily taken from Conran’s concepts, but clearly they must have influenced each other. Ikea, however, being more disposable and therefore a further step away from Granny’s living room.

Justine and I compared back and forth which Terence Conran restaurants we had been too. Most were a bit too expensive and highly appealing to the West London set. Nice area, but not quite what I consider innovative. But then again, there was a day when the King’s Road was full of Mary Quant innovation and Vivienne Westwood appeal. Funny how things evolve.

We next headed upstairs to view the 2012 Designs of the Year where my definition of design continued to expand and expand until I wasn’t quite sure what a designer is or does anymore. There was everything from a bicycle helmet that activates and extends only upon impact to a computer software program that mutates an image of your face into a creepy facsimile. Also included were an electric car, DIY design jelly shoes and elements from Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. In April, judges will chose seven winners from Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Furniture, Graphics, Product and Transport categories and one overall category winner.  I couldn’t even begin to guess who the winner would be. I left with my head spinning from so many ideas.

The Design Museum is located at 28 Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD and is open daily from 10am – 5.45pm. Last admission is at 5.15pm.

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Since I had scoped out the Mall and Buckingham Palace the night before, I knew there was no way I was going to get a glimpse of anything royal. Nonetheless, my plan was to descend into the crowd with a good spirit and a bottle of cava. In the morning I called my friend, Vanessa, and we decided to meet up at Hyde Park. St James Park was already full and Hyde Park promised jumbo screens of the events and port-a-loos.

Whether or not you agree with the monarchy and the royal family, it’s great to see everyone get together and celebrate. It’s nice to have a community vibe for at least a day in a big city where we are most often in each other’s way.

Hyde Park during the Royal Wedding

Straight off the plane with suitcase in tow.

There were people dressed in bridal gowns and tons of Will and Kate look a likes. Vanessa’s flatmates were well prepared with Will and Kate masks, the ring, and matching outfits. They were a huge hit with the rest of the crowd and you can see why.

The Kates

Re-enactment

Showing off the ring while Will lurks behind

I didn’t see much of the royal kiss from my position in Hyde Park. In fact, I bent down to fix my shoe and I missed the first kiss entirely. The jet flyover that accompanied the kiss was visible from Hyde Park and made everyone feel like part of the experience.

Jet flyover

Best of all, it didn’t even rain like the forecast predicted. I can’t wait to do it again for Harry’s wedding. I’m considering Will’s wedding a great practice run.

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The night before the Royal Wedding, the Mall and Buckingham Palace were already packed with people who had flown across the world to sleep in a tent in a foreign country’s public park along side strangers. Their dedication made me envious. I knew it was impossible to sleep in a comfortable bed AND get a glimpse of the royal couple on their wedding day. You can guess which option I chose.

The dedicated hailed from many backgrounds with the Americans making a big showing. Also making a big showing were flags and pajamas.

Pajama Party along the Mall

These ladies were making it a Girl's Night Out

Home sweet home

Having a kip. (That means nap.)

This guy offered to trade me a cupcake for a kiss. Thanks, but I'm not hungry.

Country of Georgia, represent!

Texas girls, represent!

We all know why the souvenir shop owners are smiling.

Prepared for the big day.

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I keep swearing that I’m not obsessed with Kate Middleton and the Royal Wedding but I’m starting to think that may not be true. As a foreigner, I find the pomp and circumstance and the entire concept of a monarchy utterly fascinating. But most of all, it’s downright impossible to ignore all the preparations going on around London for the big event. Here’s some photographic evidence of the massive effort to make it the perfect day for Kate and Will.

Flags hung over Regency Street near Piccadilly Circus.

It must be weird to have your face showing in every other window all over town.

Suspiciously nice looking flowers suddenly appear at Buckingham Palace. Accompanied by flags and supervisors.

Walking route through Green Park disrupted by massive tent structure.

Still a week and 4 days to go. I’ll do my best to post on something else during the next few weeks, but I can’t make too many promises!

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It was Friday night and I wanted to check out somewhere new. I had just finished my first week of work and was eager to celebrate legal employment. I remember that Yelp had arranged half-priced drink specials at The Ebury. I was curious about the establishment as I have frequently passed by it. Also (if you believe the hype) Kate Middleton has been spotted there flipping through bridal magazines. I’m not actually a Kate chaser, but I figure when in London…

The Ebury is a classic yet modern restaurant and bar on Pimlico Road. It falls in suit with the other establishments in the area- slightly upmarket without the snootiness of Sloane Square.  If you are a casual person, you might feel out of your zone when you first arrive, but on closer inspection you notice the worn carpet on the stairway and the glitches in the service. In fact, it took some downright effort to get our first drink. We only intended on staying for one or two, but I sent a text message to Cary who had just finished teaching his yoga class and all of a sudden we had company and a great reason to stay. At this point, our 1 drink turned into 3 and the service went from nonexistent to pretty good. Yes, sometimes yoga teachers have cocktails too.

The cocktail menu is extensive and has a lot of area for exploration. The Marilyn  Monroe was a sweet strawberry and champagne mixture. The Strawberry Basil Martini was subtler on the sugar level yet still fruity. The Moulin Rouge was not too sweet with a tropical vibe. Husband had a glass of rose that he winged about at first but then ordered a second. I guess it grew on him.

Moulin Rouge and Marilyn Monroe

With all these cocktails going to my brain, I needed some food. Rather than booking into the restaurant, we shared a massive Mediterranean Meze that included hummus, grape leaf wraps, tzatziki, warm pita bread, olives and other goods. It was enough for 3-4 people and should be for £17.

You might not spot Kate, but if you come between 5 and 7 you might spot me. At £8 – £11 a cocktail, I designate this place strictly for happy hour and the next Yelp special.

The Ebury is located at 11 Pimlico Road, London SW1W 8NA. Happy hour is from 5-7 everyday and includes 2 for 1 priced drinks.

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The other day while walking through the park and looking like total hell, I was thinking about how it was a good thing that I wasn’t famous. There was very little chance that someone was going to run up to me, snap my photo and then draw funny pictures around my image describing how I had let myself go all because I didn’t bother to put on makeup or heat damage my hair that day.

This thought was very fortuitous. The very next day I was walking through London a bit more groomed when I was nearly knocked over by a large man running down the street. Out of the corner of my eye I saw that he was holding a professional camera. I turned to see what was going on and realized there was a whole crew of men with cameras in their hands.

Waiting for the shot

Standing at the foot of The Wolseley the men were poised and ready for action. Papparazi, I realized. I’ve crossed paths with a few celebrities in the past, but hadn’t given much thought to how many there must be in London. I decided to pause for a moment to find out who it was.

When the door opened, the men started yelling “Kate! Kate!” and I immediately got excited that I was only a few steps from Kate Middleton. A minute later, a woman exited yelling at the papparazi to go away. She retreated into the restaurant and re-emerged with Kate Moss.

Oh, THAT Kate.

I texted Mariah back in the U.S. figuring this would be the exact type of thing she got a kick out of.

“So how did she look?” she asked.

“Gorgeous, of course. Flowing hair, large sunglasses, designer clothes. Actually with all of that in the way I didn’t see her at all.”

So that’s the trick.

That evening I told Husband about my celebrity run-in.

“Why didn’t you get a photo? You probably could have sold it” Husband asked.

I thought back on that day I looked like hell walking through the park. “I don’t know. I guess I wanted to respect her privacy. What if she was having a bad hair day?”

“Celebrities don’t get to have a bad hair day” he answered.

Exactly.

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