Monday, September 30, 2013

Visiting Kew Gardens ~ Windsor Castle ~ Tea At Harrods

Being in London, England was such an amazing experience.  In a lot of places we visited we felt like we were living in the past and stepping back in time.     We were enjoying the old historical buildings, statues, castles, double-decker buses, beautiful flowers, and even the old black London taxi-cabs.

We had heard about Kew Royal Botanic Gardens and included the gardens as a must-see on our to-do list.  The gardens were located about a 25 minute drive west of London.


The Kew Royal Botanic Gardens has 121 acres of gardens including botanical glasshouses.  Besides being a beautiful garden for visitors to enjoy, it is an internationally important botanical research and education institution with 700 staff members.

 Entrance into Kew Gardens.

        The Gardens were created in 1759 and celebrated their 250th anniversary in 2009.

My husband and I thought the Gardens looked like a big park.  But, there is so much going on here at Kew Gardens. They have the world's largest collection of living plants with the collection including more than 30,000 different kinds of plants.

We were sitting waiting for the tram to take us around the gardens.  
The waiting-bench was in front of this beautiful old tree.  
Closer inspection showed these interesting nut-like clusters.

       This is the same tree seen from a distance. I loved the shape of this beautiful old tree.

The tram ride through the gardens took us by The Orangery Restaurant.  The Orangery was first used as a hothouse to grow citrus plants and was built in 1761.  The beautiful old hothouse is now used as a restaurant.  I loved the huge old windows all around the building.
Orangery Restaurant

The restaurant served hot lunch items, but we were just having a little coffee break and could not resist the amazing English Scones available at the restaurant.

These English Scones are so delicious I can't help but wonder why they are not readily available back at home in the United States.  One thing for sure,  I am going to try to find a good recipe and make some when I get home.

We drove by this beautiful building in the park.  They were getting ready for a wedding.

We were able to hop on and off of the tram.  This very old tree caught my eye and it turns out, according to this sign,  that this tree is the oldest tree in Kew Gardens.  The sign says it is believed this tree was planted in the early 18th century.

Sweet Chestnut tree.  The oldest tree in the gardens.

This huge glass house is known as the Palm House and was built in 1844-1848.  They call this building the most important surviving Victorian iron and glass building in the world. This glass house showcases the world's greatest diversity of palms.   It houses Asian fruit trees and many other plants.

Palm House

Located in Kew Gardens, Kew Palace is considered the smallest of the British Royal Palaces.
The Palace was built around 1631.

Kew Palace

  Kew Palace was a favorite home to King George III 
and Queen  Charlotte and their 15 children.

Nine sons and six daughters of King George and Queen Charlotte.
All but two of the children lived on into adulthood.

Located out behind Kew Palace is the "Queen's Garden."  
There is a collection of plants here believed to have medicinal qualities.

Queen's Garden

Surprisingly, photos were allowed to be taken in the house.

Leaving Kew Palace we could not help but notice this pretty little garden 
in the side yard of the Palace.

A very pretty and unusual looking flower.

These flowers looked somewhat like our "Coneflowers" at home in the US.

This pretty purple flower looks very much like our "Rose of Sharon" 
flowers back home in the US.

There was much more to see in Kew Gardens and we could have visited much longer. 
Our time was limited and we did enjoy seeing all that we did get to see.

Windsor Castle

Driving from London to Windsor Castle took about 45 minutes.  
The Castle is located about 23 miles west of London.

The original Castle was built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror.

Windsor Castle is the longest-occupied palace in Europe. 
More than five hundred people live and work in Windsor Castle.

Windsor Castle is a popular tourist attraction and Queen Elizabeth II's 
preferred weekend home.

Windsor Castle occupies more than thirteen acres.

We were fortunate enough to be able to tour the State Rooms of the Castle, 
but unfortunately no photographs were allowed inside.

In the below photo is the South Wing of Windsor Castle and is the official entrance to the 
State Apartments or the private residence of the Queen.

There was  a small additional charge for entrance into the Windsor Castle Gardens.  

I would not have wanted to miss seeing Windsor Castle Gardens.  
Just entering into the Gardens was picturesque with the large stone arbor entrance.

Windsor Castle Gardens

It was an amazing treat to get to see this beautiful garden.

After leaving the gardens we walked past this Windsor Castle guard on duty.

We had to walk back through the town of Windsor to meet back up with our tour bus.  It was a beautiful old town and we would have loved to have stayed longer.

Flower tower in the town of Windsor.

There were a lot of interesting shops in the town of Windsor.

Buildings in the town of Windsor.

This sweet, girl was advertising old-fashioned, period dress photography photos.
How beautiful!

No trip to London would be complete without an English High Tea.

Knowing this was our last day in London, 
my sweet husband made reservations for us to have Tea at The Georgian Restaurant in Harrods Department Store. 

Harrods Department Store has been serving customers for over 150 years.  Charles Henry Harrod started a humble grocery shop in 1849 and by 1902 Harrods was London's biggest store with 92 departments and a staff of more than 2,000.

The Georgian Restaurant is a perfect setting for High Tea in the afternoon.  The dining room was so beautiful with pretty pink chairs, stained-glass sky-light and beautiful huge white floral arrangements.  It was definitely a regal setting to be remembered always.

The tea itself was unusually delicious. 
 If I could find tea like this I would make it all the time at home.

I loved the beautiful white china with the simplicity of the "H" monogram, 
and the beautiful single red rose.

And, then ...... the freshly cut tea sandwiches, scones and pastries were served.
Oh!  My goodness!  How wonderful!

I can tell you everything was every bit as good as it looks.

Well! Our wonderful London experience was coming to an end!  It was time to travel on back to the United States and on home.  

We will always have great memories of beautiful London and all the other places we were fortunate enough to visit on this trip.

Delta, as I am sure is the same with all of the airlines, is such a wonderful way to fly.  They all could not have been more accommodating on the long 8 hour flight back home.

When we arrived back in Atlanta and boarded our connecting flight on back to Tallahassee, I heard southern accents from different folks on the plane, and I must say it was completely charming to be back home again!

Thanks for coming along with us during our travels, and seeing the beauty of this wonderful world the good Lord has provided for us.

Wishing you a happy beginning of the week and many blessings wherever you may be.

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