Staying in South Kensington, you get a taste of what the high life must be like.
Houses valued at $10 million and up are everywhere. As you walk around the neighborhood of elegant white townhouses with grand entrances, you expect t to see the Banks family and Mary Poppins appear at the front door.
Ferraris, Bentleys and Aston Martins are parked on the street. As I was popping down to the grocery store one morning, I noticed a Bentley at a traffic light driven by a chauffeur (wearing his cap) with a little old lady in the back holding her little Pekingese on her lap.
It’s also the home of some of London’s great museums like the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. With nothing planned before Jonathan and Celine’s wedding at 2pm, Garrett, Finn and I make plans to pop down to the V&A for a short visit.
But not before indulging in a full English breakfast at a local cafe. You can argue all day long about which country does the best breakfast. But honestly, why waste the energy? Just enjoy the heck out of wherever you are. And when you’re in England that means a plate full of eggs, sausage, English bacon (cut from the loin, not the crispy American stuff), baked beans, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding and toast.
Yes, a cardiologist’s nightmare. But an occasional delight when on vacation.
Our bellies full to bursting, we wander down Cromwell Road to the V&A, which according to Wikipedia, is the world’s largest museum of applied arts, decorative arts and design. We only have a few minutes, so we make our way to the Raphael Cartoons. It’s not what you may be thinking.
Cartoon apparently comes from the Italian word “carotone,” which means big paper. Artists would often sketch out their ideas on big pieces of paper before painting them on the final surface. The cartoons that hang in the V&A are full scale designs for tapestries created for the Sistine Chapel. They are among the most valuable treasures of the Renaissance.
The scale of the cartoons - and the gallery in which they hang - is just enormous. They depict the lives of St. Peter and St. Paul. And fun fact, they actually belong to the English Crown, and have been on loan since 1865.
People, you need to go see this for yourself!
We rush back to the apartment to get ready for the wedding, cram all six of us into a London taxi and make our way across town to the Museum of the Order of St. John. The Order of St. John traces its roots all the way back to the 11th Century in Jerusalem where monks would care for the sick. Without going into the full history, suffice it to say that the room where the wedding was being held - the Chapter Hall - was nothing short of amazing.
Wood paneling, vaulted ceiling, massive fireplace with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II mounted above it. On the wood panels were names of knights going back to the 11th Century.
As beautiful as the room was, it did not compare to the lovely bride, Celine. Our nephew Jonathan cleaned up pretty well too. It was clear from their heartfelt vows that they are very much in love. The ceremony was charming, the guests lively and the setting spectacular.
Following the ceremony, all 100 guests take the 10-minute walk down to the pub where the reception is being held. We take advantage of the time before dinner to reconnect with friends and family that we haven’t seen in several years.
Dinner. Toasts. Dancing. More eating. More drinks. Laughs and then even a few tears as we said our goodbyes. It’s a familiar ritual of family gatherings.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.