Tag Archives: london

Why Great Britain Is Great Infographic

There’s a reason why it’s called GREAT Britain: in my opinion, it should be called Fantastic Britain, but maybe I’m getting carried away. If you don’t believe me when I say there are millions of reasons to love the UK, then check out this awesome infographic from the CityBase Apartments blog. This lists only twenty reasons, but they’re some of the best! You can check out the original post here. Let me know in the comment section why YOU love Great Britain!

20 Reasons Why Great Britain Is Great

20 Reasons Why Great Britain Is Great

Original post on CityBase Apartments

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Review of “London Road: Linked Stories” by Tessa McGovern

As the end of summer simmers down and autumn approaches, you may be looking forward to some quiet afternoon reading. Just the thing for a relaxing bookfest on the sofa, London Road: Linked Stories by Tessa Smith McGovern is a group of short short stories taking place in my favorite of all places: England.

london road cover

London Road: Linked Stories by Tessa Smith McGovern

The scene opens on an unusually hot morning outside, of all places, Chorley Prison. We meet Janice Bailey, recent inmate, as she sets off on a journey to London to restart her life. All she has to go on are a few pounds and a friend’s recommendation to a halfway house in the city. Having been in prison for manslaughter in self-defense, she doubts that anyone will ever take her in or give her a shot.

This lovely group of stories is essentially about second chances. Janice has a second chance to live again, with new friends, a new job, and new purpose. With each story, we meet a new character, someone linked with the rest. All the characters have come together in the city to find a new way of life, pulling the past’s baggage along with them. We meet Mandy, known for petty theft, on probation in a literary reading group. We meet Isobel, who’s on antipsychotic drugs and has a difficult relationship with her mother. We meet women who are obsessive, afraid, lonely. What do they have in common? They all come to this boarding house in London where life throws them one more chance to stay alive and keep going.

With the montage-feeling of Love Actually. London Road is written to lift your spirits and show you the hope that follows tragedy. Each character has been through life’s worst, but by the end, they find resolution and something to help them along. I suppose this is what the title could refer to: the journey each character takes from bad to good, from hopeless to purposeful.
Because of this forward-looking perspective, I recommend this book to anyone looking for an easy, uplifting read. Each story is quite short, and the entire book could be read in an afternoon.While at times I would have like a more in-depth look at the characters’ lives, it’s good to remember that these stories are purposed as flash fiction. McGovern manages to combine good storytelling and conciseness in London Road. I especially recommend this book to my fellow Anglophiles as the book also includes references to the Queen, afternoon tea, and pubs. What’s not to like?

You can find the e-book for free or $0.99 (depending on your Amazon membership) here!

Thanks to BookTrib for providing me with London Road to review.

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Yardley Advertisements from the 1960s

Looking over Yardley ads from the past century, I find it interesting that the British toiletry company has kept up with modern times while retaining its elegant and even sophisticated reputation. Some of my favorite Yardley ads are from the 1960s when Mod culture was high in Swinging London. The fashion trend that Yardley helped promote seems to have been full of hopefulness and a sense of security, which I find refreshing living in a time when emaciation and extremism seem predominant in fashion.

Twiggy was one of the most popular models of the time, and she started modeling for Yardley in 1967, advertising Twiggy eyelashes and paint.

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photo courtesy ~ pictify.com

But Twiggy wasn’t the only face of Yardley. With the release of Romeo and Juliet in 1968, Olivia Hussey became the image of romance.

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photo courtesy ~ pictify.com

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photo courtesy ~ pictify.com

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photo courtesy ~ Musings from Marilyn

Twiggy and Olivia Hussey are my favorite models from the ’60s… do you have any?

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photo courtesy ~ pictify.com

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photo courtesy ~ Carnabetian Army

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photo courtesy ~ John Bull & Uncle Sam

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photo courtesy ~ Hair and Makeup

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London: Then and Now

London is one of the oldest cities in the world. It has been the home of some of the most influential people in history. The city has fostered artists, musicians, authors, monarchs, and some of the greatest thinkers in the Western world. William Shakespeare, the father of English literature, once directed his ageless plays from London’s own Globe Theatre. Queen Victoria, ruler of a planet-encompassing empire, reigned from the city’s Buckingham Palace. London’s fame started centuries ago, and its character has remained strong throughout the years.

image courtesy Joseph Plotz

In circa 1173, biographer William Fitz Stephen wrote of his beloved city:

Among the noble and celebrated cities of the world that of London, the capital of the kingdom of the English, is one which extends its glory farther than all the others and sends its wealth and merchandise more widely into distant lands. Higher than all the rest does it lift its head. It is happy in the healthiness of its air; in its observance of Christian practice; in the strength of its fortifications; in its natural situation; in the honour of its citizens; and in the modesty of its matrons. It is cheerful in its sports, and the fruitful mother of noble men … If the mildness of the climate of this place softens the characters of its inhabitants, it does not make them corrupt in following Venus, but rather prevents them from being fierce and bestial, making them liberal and kind.

London over the years has seen waves of change, but to this day, its citizens are proud and happy to call the city their home. Even now, they embrace its history, its culture, its ever-vibrant life – at least, some of them do. In the following video, vlogger Charlie McDonnell speedily walks by many of London’s most famous sites, braving the drizzly rain and the Tube like every other happy Londoner.

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Top 25 Reasons to Love England

The reasons to love England seem limitless to me. I could go on and on about crumpets and Peter Rabbit and Harrod’s and Cranford and Fanny Price. I’ve discovered that many of my fellow Americans are Anglophiles just like me, and they have their lists of reasons why they love all things British as well. Over time, I’ve compiled the top 25 reasons why Americans love England. You can read the original articles here and here. In fact, the first article is what inspired this blog. So enjoy, and let me know what your favorite things about England are in the comments below!

25) the Royal Guard

What’s black, white, and red all over?

24) Afternoon Tea

Sugar and a splash of cream, please.

23) Castles

Who wouldn’t want to live in a stone-walled, tapestry-lined fortress with straw for carpets and a drawbridge for a driveway?

22) Gardens

The English Garden is apparently a place to be proposed to, to ramble aimlessly on dull afternoons, to escape from unwanted suitors…

21)Double Decker Buses

Let’s just hope they aren’t too top-heavy…

20) Oxford

Second oldest university in the world – quite inspiring.

19) Pubs

They come in pints?

18) Royal Weddings

Occasions for gravity-defying hats and bell-ringing celebration, brought to you live on the BBC.

17) Rain and Fog

The perfect backdrop to the mysteries of Sherlock Holmes or the ramblings of drunken Dickens characters.

16) London

The center of Anglophilia! Everything your heart has ever desired can be found along the banks of the Thames…

15) the Accent

When I get to England, I will wander the streets, talking to random strangers just to hear their accents.

14) the Queen

Revolution or no, Americans still hold a tiny love of royalty.

13) Prince William

No longer on the singles list…

12) History

From ancient stone henge to William the Conqueror to Henry VIII to the knights of the round table…

11) the Way of Life

Rolling countryside, church steeples, knitting by the fireplace, making fresh butter… (apparently, this isn’t true anymore, and I’m living in a dream world)

10) Food 

Bubble and squeak? Hot toddy? Bangers and mash?

9) the Thatched Roof

pure cuteness!

8) the Cars

I wouldn’t mind driving around in a Mini Cooper.

7) the Red Telephone Booth

We don’t even have telephone booths in America… just phones nailed to the concrete.

6) Bond, James Bond

Classy, smooth, debonaire… Sean Connery.

5) Humor

The British have this subtle sense of humor that Americans just don’t have, and often don’t get.

4) Simon 

Simon, television sucks without you.

3) Drama

The BBC has the answers to everything.

2) Music

Perhaps it’s the accent, but I think that Brits can simply sing better than Americans.

1) Literature

Number one! English literature is one of the best gifts to mankind from mankind. Shakespeare, Jane Austen, John Keats, Tennyson, C.S. Lewis, Kazuo Ishiguro, etc. etc.

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Interview with Peggy Seymour from The Mymble’s Daughter

Around the time of my birthday this year, I received a bubble-wrap envelope in the mail. What made this bubble-wrap envelope more than ordinary was the lovely postmark that read “United Kingdom”. I knew it was from a very good friend of mine who knows me better than most anyone and who always sends me the best of birthday presents. Excited and curious to see what piece of England would be hidden inside the envelope, I opened it to discover a beautiful necklace depicting one of my favorite characters from Alice in Wonderland: The Gryphon. I loved the necklace so much, I had to look up where it came from.

the Gryphon necklace ~ photo by Rose West

Let me introduce you to Peggy Seymour from The Mymble’s Daughter, known on Etsy as adorapop. Peggy, master jeweler and artist extraordinaire, is based in Wales, though she’s actually from London. Her profile on Etsy talks of dragons and castles, leading me to believe that I’ve found something of a kindred spirit across the pond. A brief glance at her Etsy shop reveals that Peggy puts her heart into her work, creating beautiful and unique necklaces, pendants, sketches, and more. A little Victorian, a little steampunk, and a little fairytale, The Mymble’s Daughter has it all! There is a wide selection of jewelry, with themes from Alice in Wonderland to Charles Dickens to the Royal Wedding. The Signature Collection features jewelry depicting the birds that Peggy is so inspired by. She also sells a collection of beautiful bird sketches. You won’t want to miss checking out The Mymble’s Daughter – there’s sure to be something to catch your eye, either for yourself or for a gift for a friend.

Peggy graciously agreed to an interview, and I am pleased to be able to share with you.

The Interview

Rose West: Where do you find your inspiration when creating new jewelry?

Peggy Seymour: Anywhere and everywhere. Most often I’ll just be reading, or watching a film and inspiration just pops into my head. I am most inspired by birds and Victoriana so I try to surround myself with as much of these things as possible.

Red Riding Hood necklace ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: Is there a story behind your name, Mymble’s Daughter?

PS: It’s a mistranslation of a character’s name from one of the Moomin books written by Tove Jansson. Her name is Mymlan in the original Swedish but somehow she ended up as the Mymble’s Daughter in one of the English translations and I’ve always loved the name.

gold-plated Thaumatrope Steampunk necklace ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: What is your most popular item or collection on Etsy?

PS: I think it’s got to be either the Thaumatrope necklace or the Decision Maker necklaces. I guess it’s because they go with just about any outfit and they’re fun to play with. My most popular pendants are the ones with cats on them. Who doesn’t love cats?

sterling silver Decision Maker necklace ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: I love your charming sketches of British birds. How has art affected your life?

PS: I’m so glad you like them! I had a bad art college experience which wrecked art for me for many years but I am just now starting to draw and paint again. I find it very soothing. Birds are my favourite subjects at the moment as they have such personality. Art is incredibly important to me and I’m so glad to have it back. I missed it!

Dunnock and Goldcrest print from Field Notes on British Birds ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: Do you do much business with Americans?

PS: Oh, so much! I’d say at least three quarters of my etsy customers are American and I would be lost without them.

Royal Wedding Special Edition Necklaces ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: I see from your profile on Etsy that you are originally from London but now live in Wales. Which is your favorite place to be?

PS: That’s quite a tricky question. I love Wales very much and have been coming here ever since I was a tiny child. It’s beautiful here and I have a quality of life I just wouldn’t be able to find in London at the moment. However, I think London will always be my favourite place to be and I don’t feel quite myself except when I am there. It’s home.

The Bird and the Empty Cage Bobby Pins ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: What are your favorite places to visit in London?

PS: I realise this may make me sound a little strange but I love the old Victorian cemeteries like Highgate Cemetery and Brompton cemetery (where they filmed some of the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ film). There is also the most wonderful little toy museum called ‘Pollocks Toy Museum’ which I insist everyone must go to if they visit London. Oh, and ‘Liberty of London’ is a must.

Pirate Princess Locket ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: So does everyone in Wales really live in castles?

PS: Of course! Well, I do anyway :)

Marie Antoinette Masquerade Brooch ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: I confess, one of my goals in life is to learn how to ride a dragon. Do you think you could hook me up?

PS: If you’re ever in the area I’m sure we could work something out.

Steampunk Necklace Number VI ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: This might seem like a strange question, but I need to know: What does Marmite really taste like?

PS: Hehe. It tastes a bit like thick soy sauce, I guess. Very savoury. I love it but I never know what to put it on. The Danish actually banned in a few weeks ago! Something about it being too salty. Weird.

image courtesy Peggy Seymour

Thank you ever so much for taking time to talk with us, Peggy! It’s been such a pleasure!

Be sure to check out The Mymble’s Daughter on Etsy!

Charles Dickens Quote Pendant ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

Edgar Allan Poe Cufflinks ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

Alice in Wonderland bracelet ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

Old House by the Thames bookplates ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

gold-plated lapel pin ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

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The Tower of London

The midnight waters of the Thames washing up the sides of the wooden boat and the steady beat of the oars is all that you hear in the darkness. A half-eaten moon and a handful of stars glimmer from too far away. You can see the darkness of the sky and the deeper darkness of stone-walled buildings that line the river. With hollow steps you find yourself out of the boat and on the landing, holding your now dirtied skirts with a ringless hand. One glance over your shoulder, and the stars disappear as you find yourself inside the hole that shudders darkly in the night. You are trapped in the Tower of London.

The Tower of London ~ image courtesy Kjetil Bjørnsrud via Wikimedia Commons

Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress

The Tower of London is more that just a tower – in reality, it is a full-sized castle, holding its historical stance on the banks of the Thames. For some reason, I always imagine the Tower in its darkest moments, when royal beheadings and imprisonments were commonplace, when its walls resounded with the cries of its victims: A young Elizabeth I with her disheveled red hair, passing the endless days of her imprisonment reading Latin books by a tiny window. Lady Jane, the nine-days-queen, wondering if she had been right after all in taking the throne. Mary of the Scots, fuming with anger at her cousin that she couldn’t manage to kill. Edward and Richard, the two little princes who disappeared and were found two hundred years later, buried under the staircase. Anne Boleyn, murdered because she didn’t have a son.

"The Princes in the Tower" by John Everett Millais

The passages and corridors are haunted, they say. The murdered and martyred are said to still walk the dank and damp stone floors.

In the Tower of London, large as life,

The ghost of Anne Boleyn walks, they declare.

For Anne Boleyn was once King Henry’s wife,

Until he had the headsman bob her hair.

Oh, yes, he did her wrong long years ago,

And she comes back at night to tell him so.

With her ‘ead tucked underneath her arm,

She walks the bloody Tower,

With her ‘ead tucked underneath her arm,

At the midnight hour.

~ from “With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm” by R.P. Weston and Bert Lee

Despite the bloody history of the Tower of London, its original purpose was not to be a prison only. William the Conqueror built the White Tower in 1078, and the royal family called the palace their home for hundreds of years. In its thousand years of history, the Tower of London has been used as an armoury, a fortress, and even the Royal Mint. For over six hundred years, the Tower was home to the Royal Menagerie, a collection of exotic animals such as tigers, bears, cheetahs, and elephants. During the reign of James I (1603-1625), some of the animals were made to compete in coliseum-type fights called baiting. The animals were eventually given to the London Zoo, and now the only captives in the Tower are the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, which have been kept safe in the fortress ever since 1303.

The Crown Jewels ~ image courtesy Joseph Echeverria via Flickr

Today, the Tower of London is mostly a tourist attraction, and for about 20£ you can  see with your own eyes the White Tower, the Jewel House, the armor collection, and the Tower Green where Anne Boleyn was beheaded.

The White Tower ~ image courtesy Bernard Gagnon via Wikimedia Commons

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