For Mother’s Day, Colin chose to take us to Hampton Court Palace just outside of London. This was the home of Henry VIII and it was sooo incredible being there. Tudor England is the time in history I am most familiar with. I know more about Ancient Roman social culture, but as far as history (time lines, lineage, wars, etc.) I know more about England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I. So to be in a castle in which I recognize the paintings and can actually name the people in them and their historical significance is really quite unique. In all of our traveling, the places have inspired my research. Like, we’ll visit St. Peter’s Basilica and then I’ll be inspired to read about it. Here, it was the other way around. Being in this palace was like finally getting to see what I’ve been reading about and studying for so long. It was just an amazing experience.

So, there are two parts to this castle. There is the Tudor part which is much more rustic and stripped down…large wooden beams, stuccoed walls, ornate painted wooden ceiling medallions. That sort of stuff. The castle retained its integrity for almost 200 years and very little changed. Then in the late 17th century when William III took the throne, significant changes were made but then halted due to the death of Mary II. William had made a ton of changes and the result is a part of the castle that is much more elaborate and baroque in its design.

Ok, class. 🙂 Lecture’s over. Let’s begin the tour shall we?

We packed a picnic lunch (actually Colin packed it. I wasn’t to lift a finger on Sunday) and we had a lovely little lunch in front of the palace. From here you can see the Tudor facade. It’s quite different from the Baroque (I’m pretty sure it’s baroque) facade you’ll see later on. This is me and the girls just after we ate. Also, this is just after we realized Colin had forgotten to pack diapers for Noodle and he had to dash around downtown (we’re facing it) to find some. 🙂 The situation was made a little more urgent as Noodle’s diaper strap had broken and she was literally hangin’ by a thread. hahahaha. Good times. 🙂

This shot was Lara’s idea. She insisted on getting one in front of the golden flowers. 🙂

We went all over the palace and saw the apartments of Henry VIII, William III, Queen Anne, and King George I. They were really spectacular…but my favorite part was Queen Anne’s bathroom. I know that sounds silly, but it really was neat. We couldn’t take photos inside the palace, but I’ll sneak ya this one from the guide book.

It’s not the best picture, but it shows the basics. Anyway, I just thought it was neat. Historical hygiene (or lack thereof) is one of my “mini fascinations”. I love picking up little nuggets of information about the beauty routines and medical remedies that were popular in different times throughout history. Anywho. 🙂

In the kitchen, there were Beefeaters playing traditional instruments and talking about them. I didn’t have a very good view, but I still managed to snag some photos.

That’s not real meat, by the way. There were tons and tons of displays in the kitchen…sound effects as well. There was even a part where you could see a fake meat pie filling being prepared in a huge cauldron and they actually had the smell of it wafting through the air. That was really bizarre. 🙂

Next stop, the kitchen shop. We are huge suckers for gift shops. We don’t necessarily buy a lot of stuff…we just love checking them out. But here, we snagged a bottle of mead, some lemon curd made from an Elizabethan recipe (for when I get this bad boy), and some bramble berry & honey jam. (We have some growing in the backyard and I’m curious as to how it tastes…I don’t know what the American equivalent is.)

The girls got some lollipops and Noodle got a peppermint stick. The coolest find was, by far, Colin’s leather & pitch tankard. Lemme go take a photo of it real quick.

Hang on…

Ok I’m back. Here it is.

Colin tried it out on Monday night and announced. “Mmmmm….pitchy.” 🙂

He had a hard time deciding between this one and THIS ONE. 🙂 Whew!!

Next we headed outside. Sunday was an incredibly dry day. It was scorching hot and we were on the last day of an 8 day streak with no rain. (A record for these parts? I dunno.) Anyway, we were baking alive, so Colin sat down on a bench to rest for a minute, rearrange the stroller, and re lather the kidlets in sunscreen.

I headed down to the fountain.

And then I walked around it and found a mama duck.

AWWWW!!! This makes me want to grow chickens just so I can hold baby chicks.

Then I walked back to towards the bench and I was spotted by the Noodle.


getting closer….

hahahha. Not really. Zoom out.

Ah, here she is…

We walked back towards the castle. See the two large pedestal lamps on the pillars? We’re on our way there to see the Privy garden. Stopped to snap a pic of the train that goes around the grounds. (complete with tour)

And here we are in the garden. This is just the left side.

Walking down the central path, looking left.

At the end of the path, we turned around and Colin snapped a pic pf me and my girlies….ahhhh. 🙂

See the baroque facade?

Now, who put that in there!???!

On the right side of the garden there is a tunnel which you haven’t seen yet. We headed towards that and the girls saw a rainbow and flipped out. So we had to take a photo of it.

Back towards the tunnel.

Ahhh….doesn’t that feel nice and cool? I could have stayed in here all afternoon. That’s me at the far end…that tiny coral dot. 🙂

Ok, now we’re out of the tunnel and heading towards the pillars again. See the sundial? We just finished a loop of the garden. Try to keep up with Noodle.

Stopped at the pillars and took one last shot of the garden. You can see the tunnel in the top right corner.

Here comes the (t)rain again…

hahahahaha. Sorry,. I just had to.

We then turned away from the train and continued along the side of the house. (This is the more baroque part)

Next, we headed into what they call the “Wilderness”. I had to laugh…cuz the “wilderness” was essentially a gorgeous field filled with thousands of daffodils and 4 hundred year old trees…and paths…and benches….and ice cream shops. 🙂 Oh, and a cafe….and on and on. 🙂

At the far end of the “wilderness” is a hedge maze which dates from the 17th century. It’s in amazing condition and we had a blast walking/running/making faces through it. The goal is to find the center and then there is a quick exit out the side.

My wonderful family who made my Mother’s Day so so special. I ❤ them!

Look! A piggy!

Ah…we finally found the center. At first Lara was leading us and every single choice she made led us to a dead end. We were really hot so after a while we told Lara to choose and then we’d head down the opposite path. Sorry, honey, but you’re no navigator. 🙂

Don’t really know what this dial was for…it was all whackadoo and spinning wildly. ???

After that we walked around the gardens some more…admired the climbing roses, the allium, and the grape vines.

Outside the palace there is a phone booth. I’m sure the British are like “What is up with the phone booth fascination!?!?” But like I’ve said before, everything in England is frickin’ adorable. And red is a rockin’ color, yo. So, yeah…that’s it. It’s just plain cute.

After we walked away from the palace, Colin had the brilliant idea that we should snag some Indian take out and have a picnic in the shade. So he went to the grocery store and then found a spot across the river from where we had our first picnic and I went to an Indian joint down the street and ordered some lamb Korma, naan, and pilau rice. We ate and put our toes in the cool grass and then the kiddos walked around for a bit. By this time it was after 7 pm and we had a 2 hour drive ahead of us.

Just after we packed up the picnic, Colin surprised me with a new necklace. 🙂 It was seriously a sweet day. And then Lara said. “awwww…she hugs…and then she cries….”

Needless to say, Monday morning was a really hard morning. We were all dragging ourselves out of bed. But we had an amazing time and I am so happy we got to go.

If you made it this far, congratulations! Thanks for coming along with me on all my countless little trips. I hope you enjoyed the tours! Ciao, all!