Europe, Part 1

We flew to London from O’Hare on a Wednesday. The terminal had angled skylights, which made it hot as a greenhouse even for our 9pm flight. We ate dinner at the terminal because we were there at dinner time, and then they fed us breaded sweet and sour chicken on the plane at 10pm–I ate my salad and my dessert. You’d think a snack and breakfast would have been a better plan than dinner and a snack, but I suppose it’s better for them to serve the hot meal first.

While we were in line for the flight, a guy behind us was complaining that people in London wouldn’t take his US money (he claimed that in New York, the street vendors will take foreign currency), and the woman with long gray dreadlocks in front of us seemed absolutely shocked. J explained to her how she could go about changing her money once we arrived.

Walking around J’s sister’s neighborhood, I noticed the front yards. Many are paved as courtyards or parking spots. Most were walled in. It struck me as odd that people would have these lovely gardens in front of their houses and then park cars in them. I suppose you have to park somewhere. A fair number of people were out walking, especially on the footpath along the Thames (this was Thursday afternoon). Couples, mothers with baby carriages. No joggers.

Friday we went to Hampton Court Palace, which was near the top of my to-do list, and the Royal Horticultural Society Flower Show, which J’s sister wanted to see and which was conveniently on the grounds.

These guys lined the path to the palace entrance:


Henry VIII’s chambers had a comfy-looking red velvet-covered toilet seat, which was apparently actually from the 1700s.

The Tudor part of the building had elaborately styled chimneys:

In the kitchens, the boiling vats were in their own little nooks, up a few short steps and around the corner from other parts of the kitchen–no huge cauldrons hanging over fires.

Ages of soot above the roasting fire:


There’s a sharp contrast between the meandering navigation of the older part of the palace and the more modern feel of the 1700s building.

The yew hedges of the maze (my first hedge maze) are contained in iron fences so you can’t cheat and cut through the hedges.

Mushroom trees (trimmed yews) on the grounds between the palace and the flower show:

The king’s privy garden–this is a restoration of William III’s garden from 1702:

Part of the exotic plant collection:

Part of the flower show was a “concept garden” about recovery or renewal. Maybe 6-10 themed gardens. One had everything planted in freezers. Two were about recovery from forest fire, one with a smoke machine, one with saplings that got taller and taller as they curved in a line from then”burned” area planted with black plants.

I fell in love with some of Susan Entwistle‘s paintings.

The flower show had a florist exhibit with all sorts of scenes made out of flowers:

Also, chicken coops:

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