A Family Affair

Smiles were permanently plastered on my parents’ faces during their ten-day stint as Londoners. They were finally here and ready to skip around the city and take a few trips. Visiting for the first time since moving here, Deb and Rick arrived on a sunny Friday morning with only the slightest sense of what was in store.

Saturday morning started off with a trip to Stroud in the Cotswolds. The town was kind of a bust, but our delectable lunch at No. 23 Bistro (go for the chili fried manchego cheese, paella, and addicting bread with special butter) and scenic drive kept everyone feeling optimistic about the day.

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Once we did a quick twirl around the town, we headed to more exciting Cirencester. Mom and I visited my favorite shop and found a few new ones while Dad and Mark popped into a few pubs. After the 5:00 pm town shutdown, we headed to our inn in Lechlade and took in the most amazing sunset I’ve seen in England along the way.

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The Five Alls Inn was already buzzing when we arrived. Kate Moss is said to frequent the inn for lunch and she definitely has good taste, the food was fantastic and the setting rustic yet chic.

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Two fantastic feasts later (dinner plus made to order breakfast of course!), we set off for Blenheim Palace to take in some culture and enjoy lunch on the sun filled terrace. The decor throughout the house was unbelievably ornate. I took some notes, the dining room is just so me!

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Since my parents visited London when I studied abroad here in 2005, they had already seen the major sights. So, we went off the beaten path and scoped out some lesser known attractions. Tuesday morning, we sauntered through the London Silver Vaults, which opened as The Chancery Lane Safe Deposit in 1876. Originally renting out strong rooms to hold household silver, jewelry and documents, it transitioned to housing silver dealers in secure premises a few years later (source: Wikipedia). Mom and I instantly fell in love with rings in one of the first shops, and I also came across this very cool wagon-like liquor holder/dispenser. At £3,000, it was hard to pass up…

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Silver shopping was a unique experience and I’d recommend stopping in without hesitation for something interesting different to do. We got back on the tourist trek and headed to Harrod’s next. Dad treated his two (of four) favorite girls to a dainty (read: teeny tiny), elegant lunch.

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Mom and I are no fools, we had really been eyeing the ice cream bar all along!

095 097We rushed home after popping into a few more shops to get ready for a pre-theater dinner of mouthwatering pasta at Bocca Di Lupo. Mom got her first birthday cake of the week (yes, we had ice cream for lunch and cake for dinner…) before scurrying off to make curtain time at The Book of Mormon.

I at least laughed off the birthday cake- the show was HILARIOUS! It is a MUST SEE and I can’t wait to go back to catch all of the wise-cracks I missed while shrieking at the previous one. We all walked out of the theater with achy cheeks from cracking up and admired the ever vibrant Piccadilly Circus, bustling as always even on a Tuesday night.

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Mom and I kept the gaiety going on Wednesday with tea at the One Aldwych, while the boys opted for a Scotch tasting. This was my first official tea experience, and I had high expectations. Choosing the spot was tough, but I found great recommendations here. In the end, the themed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tea with golden eggs and mini milkshakes prevailed and we were not disappointed. Our very sweet French waiter was delightful and even surprised Mom with birthday cake number two!

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Afterwards, we took a stroll along the river before meeting up with the boys at my favorite wine spot, Augustus Harris, followed by pizzas at Obika (sans birthday cake).

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By Thursday afternoon, we were hungry again. Lucky for us, it was Real Food Market day at Covent Garden. This is a must do if you visit London, and a weekly lunch outing for this girl. The hubs joined us between conference calls and we all had the pulled pork sandwich, possibly my favorite selection so far. Calzones and cupcakes were also shared (you really didn’t think we could go to a food market and only try one thing did you!?).

119 121 122Once I had paparazzied my parents enough, Mom and I dragged Dad to a few shops in beloved Covent Garden, the apple of my London eye. To cap off the afternoon and kick off Mom’s (actual) birthday, we got classy and sassy with drinks at The Ivy. Dad was totally in his element with his mojito (pronounced “mo-ay-toe” in Rick’s world), or maybe he was just so happy to be sitting somewhere other than outside of the dressing room.

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The big birthday dinner was planned at Margaux, where we had another remarkable meal. Highlights included the endive salad, scallops, veal, lots of sides of mashed potatoes, and you guessed it, a birthday cake- this time accompanied by a fresh strawberry champagne cocktail and enthusiastic rendition of “Happy Birthday!”.

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The birthday celebration didn’t end there, and neither did the cake. To keep the celebration rolling, we headed to Paris the next day where we were all immediately enamored by city’s beauty. Stay tuned for part two: Paris with the Parents!

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