Category Archives: London Life

Jamie Cullum @ Kew the Music

Jamie Cullum

Jamie Cullum at Kew the Music

Last Friday, we saw the very talented Jamie Cullum perform at Kew the Music—an outdoor music festival at Kew Gardens.  He was fantastic!

Jamie Cullum is an English-born jazz-pop singer-songwriter.  We started listening to his music around 2002 and saw him twice in concert whilst in San Francisco—once at The Palace of Fine Arts in 2006 and once at The Fillmore in 2010.  It was amazing to see him in London—his home turf.

Kew Gardens was probably one of the best outdoor concert venues we’ve been to.  It was so pleasant to listen to great music in such a beautiful setting. (It helped that the rain held off too!)

Fireworks after the concert

The concert ended with fireworks…how fitting.

Chelsea Flower Show

Staying with the theme of nature…

Kevin and I attended the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show last month.  Located on the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, London, this annual festival of flowers attracts over 150,000 visitors each year, including Her Majesty The Queen.

The Chelsea Flower Show began in 1862 as the Great Spring Show.  Over the years, it has grown to become one of the most respected and most famous flower shows in the world.  It is also a top venue to watch emerging trends in garden and floral design (something Kevin and I know a lot about).

The vibrant, eye-catching colors and enchanting fragrances definitely stimulated our senses.  Mom and Marcia, you both would have loved it!  Maybe next year???

Kew Gardens

Another fun thing we did with Kevin’s parents was take the Tube to Kew Gardens.

Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise inside Temperate House

The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, (as its formally known) is located in Richmond, about 10 miles west of central London.  Kew Gardens consists of over 325 acres of gardens, glasshouses and wildlife.  Kew has the largest and most comprehensive collection of plants in the world and is also a center of scientific research and conservation.

Kew was established in 1759 as a nine-acre garden by Princess Augusta, mother of King George III.  Over the years, it has grown to become a major visitor attraction and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It was a lovely, sunny day when we visited Kew.  Here are a few of the highlights…

Tropical Plants

Tropical Plants inside Temperate House

Temperate House

Temperate House

The Temperate House (c.1859) is the world’s largest surviving Victorian glass structure, at over 52,525 square feet.  It contains exotic plants and tropical trees and palms from around the world.

The Pagoda

The Pagoda

The Pagoda, completed in 1762, was designed by Sir William Chambers who had a special interest in Chinese architecture and design. The ten-story structure is one of Kew’s most popular features.

Japanese Gateway

Japanese Gateway

The Japanese Gateway (Chokushi-Mon) was originally created for the Japan-British exhibition in 1910.  It is a replica of the Western Temple of the Original Vow (Gate of Nishi Hongan-ji) in Kyoto, Japan.


Waterlilies in the Waterlily House


A Resident Peacock

Rose Gardens

Rose Gardens

It was a great day and a nice break from the urban landscape of London.

Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew

Tower of London

Tower of London

Tower of London

The Tower of London has served several purposes throughout its vast history on the north bank of the River Thames.  We recently visited the Tower with Kevin’s parents, while they were spending some time with us in LondonTown.

The Tower of London was established as a fortress around the 1070s by William the Conqueror.  Throughout its history it has also served as a royal residence, a prison as well as an execution site.  Today, the Tower is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions, primarily because it is home to the spectacular Crown Jewels.

The Crown Jewels consist of the crowns, robes, scepters, orbs, swords, ornaments and clothing used during coronations and other state occasions.  The beautiful diamonds, jewels, gems and gold dazzle—especially the Imperial State Crown that has over 2,800 diamonds!  This massive collection isn’t even insured as they could never be replaced.  (I would have loved to take photos here but photography is not allowed.)

Another highlight of the Tower of London is the exhibition of royal armor—over five hundred years worth.  The variety of armor and weaponry make for a grand display.  It was interesting to see the different shapes and sizes of the suits of armor for previous kings—especially Henry VIII who found it necessary to protect his “vital assets” with a bit more metal…

Henry VIII's Suit of Armor

Henry VIII's Suit of Armor

We took a guided tour with a Yeoman Warder, or “Beefeater” as they are nicknamed.  The Tower of London is home to the Warders, as they actually live inside the outer walls of the Tower’s grounds.  The Warder’s official role is to guard the Tower and the precious Crown Jewels.  Our “Beefeater” was highly entertaining and wonderfully witty.

Yeoman Warder

Yeoman Warder

It was a fun experience to learn a bit more about this historic city.