Twenty years had passed since the tragic death of Princess Diana but to this day she remains a highly disputed figure. Hers was a life shrouded in mystery and controversy, and of a charmed stroke of serendipity, as well as significant tragedies. She is as popular today as she was during her lifetime; the media is continually digging into whatever skeleton in the cupboard they can get about her, and people just can’t seem to stop talking about her.


I’d choose not to make any unfavourable remark about her life; I’d rather talk about her fashion story — the distinguished style she crafted after she married The Prince of Wales.


The current exhibit at Kensington Palace Museum explores a collection of Diana’s most famous outfits; how her style evolved from a very shy teenager to a glamorous woman who used her image to influence people around the world. As soon you enter the gallery, you’ll see a set of framed photographs as well as sketches of the couture looks commissioned by Princess Diana.


The world of designer fashion, couture or fashionable made to measure clothes was new to the young Lady Diana Spencer before she married The Prince of Wales. She was unfamiliar with the latest trend that her entire wardrobe was borrowed from friends except for a single dress, a shirt and one smart pair of shoes.


After her engagement, she started to meet with a handful of fashion designers she liked, to help her create a working wardrobe. Many of the designers, both local and international, were charmed by her shy public demeanour and those that she recruited to help her craft her image became some of her closest and loyal friends. Her style popularised the romantic fashion movement of the 1980s with light, lacy and flowing fabrics like the gowns in above photo.


A Welsh fashion designer named David Emanuel made Lady Di’s blouse for a feature on Vogue magazine in 1981 (see top left photo) and it coincided with her engagement announcement that the same style blouse sold out on the high street all over the country as soon as the magazine was released. That was the instantaneous response from the public that from then on women were buying whatever style clothes she was wearing. She became influential in the world of fashion and was the most photographed woman in the world. The other photo above is her ‘country outfit’ designed by Bill Pashley; she wore it in Scotland when she and Charles were on their honeymoon. The weed fabric is in keeping with traditional English country dress.


Catherine Walker is one of Diana’s favourite designers. They met barely three months after she got married to the prince and their friendship lasted a lifetime. Ms Walker was commissioned to design many of the famous outfits that Princess Diana wore to various official functions.


As she became more confident and sophisticated, her style changed and she wore clothes that convey whatever message she was trying to communicate to the world. After her divorce with Prince Charles she started wearing a more modern, fashionable clothes sometimes showing her cleavage, or her knees, and she seemed more at ease not having to conform to whatever expectations the royal family had on her.


Undeniably, she was very glamorous and whatever outfits she wore, it was not only the clothing that stood out but rather her caring and compassionate demeanour.


In 1997 Prince William suggested to his mother to auction her iconic gowns to raise funds for humanitarian causes, and Diana took her son’s advise and sold 79 of her most famous dresses in June of that year.


The sale at Christie’s in New York raised £3.4 million for AIDS and cancer charities.


The press reported that the auction was quite a symbolic event — Diana was closing  a chapter of her royal life and focusing on charitable work.  Sadly, she died barely two months after that remarkable auction.


Inevitably, the exhibit includes a few outfits she wore while attending official functions with Prince Charles, and there were photos of her and The Prince of Wales together. A few of her suits were also on display but there’s only one outfit at the gallery that she didn’t wear to an official event.


This shift dress she wore for shopping to Bond Street is such a classic and I love it. (I am in the process of trying to find a similar fabric for my next sewing project.  ) Just like Grace Kelly, she became a style icon. Her influence is extraordinary. No one knows what her life would be had she lived longer. People still talk what she’d look like if she’s still around and the type of influence she’d have on her grandchildren. Her legacy remains today through her children, the charities she supported, and the people whose lives she deeply touched. A few weeks ago I blogged about the documentary that her sons recently made in her honour — DIANA, OUR MOTHER: HER LIFE AND LEGACY


Even if you’re not a big fan of the late princess, I’d highly recommend you visit Kensington Palace Museum — the birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria. Although the highlight of their exhibit this year is Princess Diana’s outfits, there’s other things to see — clothing, furnitures, etc., that once belonged to Queen Victoria and other royals who once inhabited Kensington Palace. (FYI, it’s worth getting an HRP membership that allows you unlimited free access to the museum and special events at Kensington Palace and other historic royal palaces.)


KP’s Sunken Garden is another place I’d highly recommend you visit when you’re in the area. This summer they call it ‘The White Garden’, designed to showcase white roses, scented narcissi and a carpet of forget-me-nots with only a few red roses around the reflective pool, in commemoration of Princess Diana’s 20th death anniversary. The late princess apparently loved the garden and would often stop to admire the flowers and chat with the gardeners.


In the last couple of weeks many people have left flowers, photos, letters, and other tributes at the gates of her former home. Funnily enough, some loyal fans of the late princess still publicly show their contempt by hanging on the palace gate some very amusing photos of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. 


During my early morning run (it always starts and ends at the gate of Kensington Palace), I’ve seen several tv crew, both local and international, filming around the palace ground.

French TV filming for a documentary about the late princess.

When I saw Princess Diana’s outfits three weeks ago, I was reminded of The Duchess of Cambridge who is always being compared to her mother-in law.


May be someday Kate will ‘inherit’ (for lack of better word) Diana’s famous ‘People’s Princess’ title. But for now, Diana is, and remains ‘The People’s Princess.’ 


I must end this post with a special mention about my cousin, Emma Laoreno-Comelli, who visited London three weeks ago. All photos of Princess Diana’s outfits were taken when we visited KP together. It was one of the highlights of her trip. She and I are both big fans of the late princess and spent the day around KP. 


We had a wonderful time together and ended our Kensington Palace tour with an afternoon tea at The Orangery.


Photos of Princess Diana wearing the pink suit and the white pearl beaded gown were both from Getty Images. 


Undeniably inspired by the sewing lesson I had three months ago, I’ve been on fire to learn another new skill. So, I recently got into modern calligraphy. That’s something I’ve been wanting to do in the last couple of years but just never got around to actually doing it. But before I’m quite there, let me just say that I like to learn something new each day, and it is a lifelong aspiration. It could be as simple as memorising a new ‘big word’ I come across with in my daily reading, or it could be a more complex activity involving skill in making things by handwork like sewing. I do it not just to gain an intellectual knowledge and a new skill to do a craft, but also to unwind. 

When I was in graduate school I took lessons on brush calligraphy, ikebana (flower arrangement), and tea ceremony. And before I got married I also did try my hand at many things — golf, all types of water sports, etc. — to find a new hobby. And one thing I tried that I absolutely enjoyed was pottery making — thanks to a friend who got me into her favourite pastime. It’s a wonderful recreation to get into. Very relaxing and therapeutic. Regrettably, I didn’t pursue it when I moved to the UK. Not only because I didn’t find a place to do it in central London, but it’s also a very costly and time consuming hobby. I might take up pottery making again in the near future.


Being left-handed, I imagined learning modern calligraphy would be a little bit challenging because I always tend to write in small letters.

This is my handwriting when I’m not in a rush — not very good but readable. 

I’ve done Japanese calligraphy before, and thought using a brush is fairly easy than using a dip pen. I was a little bit hesitant about doing modern calligraphy although it’s been on my ‘must try’ list for a couple of years.

Image: screenshot from Rhoda’s Instagram account

It was my friend Rhodawho inspired me to finally do it. When she posted some photos on Instagram, I immediately contacted Lucy to find out if she has a modern calligraphy beginner’s class coming up in west London. I already got Lucy’s book for my birthday but never even finished reading it until I saw Rhoda’s Instagram post.


After I made the booking in June, I told my friend Joy about it and she was thrilled to do the calligraphy lesson with me. (Joy is a church mate of mine, and just like Rhoda, she is an incredibly talented lady). Thankfully, she was able to reserve a seat on the same class I signed up for.


So glad Joy and I were able to do it together, it was so much fun doing it with a friend.

That’s my ‘young-self’ many moons ago doing Japanese brush calligraphy on a piece of lacquerware. 

I find modern calligraphy arduous, at least in the beginning. It is learning a new style of writing and I had to condition my mind to forget about my own handwriting. Just trying to write massive letters to practice A-Z was quite a challenge for me. But I went home after the workshop quite happy that I learned a series of techniques that will allow me to continue doing it on my own, and at the same time determined to practice it religiously and get better at it.


Lucy was very sweet and quite helpful in giving clear instructions on how to do it from scratch — putting the nibs on the dip pen, holding the pen properly, and so on and so forth. She went around and took the time to teach one of us, there was a dozen of us, and she practically did the best she can in such a short period of time, just two hours. I felt that it wasn’t enough and I plan on attending more of Lucy’s calligraphy classes.


On the first week I devoted half an hour to forty five minutes practicing the alphabets just about everyday. The second week was quite hectic; I didn’t get to practice except for an hour and I felt terribly bad about it.


On the third week I promised myself not to neglect my calligraphy practice and I just got on with it every opportunity I had. However, I got tired of writing A-Z and decided to write words like the attributes of God and then moved into scribbling full scripture verses. The repetitive task of writing the scripture verses can be meditative and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.


Despite my busy schedule, I have been able to practice religiously for 45 minutes everyday, except Sunday, in the last couple of weeks.


This week I started writing proverbs by using an antique mahogany dip pen. Although it doesn’t work like a new pen I still enjoy using it.


 I am in the process of learning different calligraphy fonts and formats trying to come up with a personal style that I can hopefully develop. The goal is not to necessarily master modern calligraphy, but rather to continue expressing myself through this medium. I’ve always been fascinated by Calligraphy, particularly the Gothic and Medieval script. It is something I wanted to explore in the future but for now, I’ll focus on modern calligraphy. It’s been a month now since I attended Lucy’s class and I am making some progress albeit rather slow. I find it so relaxing and therapeutic, and I’m determined to continue doing it.


Soon there will be another post about my Victorian laptop.  That is, the portable writing box that was popular in the Georgian and Victorian era.


Here’s the first part.

Every summer Jared and I organise different activities for the kids at church as part of our youth ministry outreach program. We always encourage them to spend time with their church friends rather than with their school friends simply because they usually get themselves in trouble when they are with their school friends (yes, we do our best to keep them out of trouble). Whether or not the kids travel during the summer holidays, we always have some activities lined up for them and those that remain in London have the option of joining whatever church activity we’ve planned.


The lavender field trip wasn’t part of our young people’s summer activity. It never was. It’s rather on my personal bucket list this year; I’ve been wanting to do it since the ‘Burlington Ladies’ lavender picnic didn’t materialise last year. (Take note Aimee, Dynah, Kristine, Marj and Precy!) I wanted to do this excursion on a weekday when it’s not too crowded. So I’ve invited Joy to join me for three reasons — first, she and I both have free time during the week to do an out of town trip together; second, we both share some common interests like baking, crafting, etc., and we enjoy talking about those things other than spiritual matters; and third, it will be our first time to do things together on our own outside of the church. But alas, it never happened. For good reasons. Every time we set a date to go last month it gets either too cloudy and/or rainy, or something else comes up. In hindsight, we realised that the Lord arranged it that way for specific reasons.


When I mentioned to Jared at the beginning of summer that I thought about inviting the teenage girls to join us for the lavender field trip, he thought it’s not something they’d be interested in doing, and that, it would be the last thing these teenagers would ever wanna do. I told him he was wrong but I didn’t mention anything to the girls until three weeks ago.


The topic came up when we took Angeli and Anisa out to dinner (we had pizza btw). I was wearing my new maxi skirt and the topic of ‘skirt-sewing’ and ‘lavender trip’ just naturally came up. But before any of our teens and/or anyone from church reading this blog raise their arms up in protest or get jealous that we took the two girls out to dinner without the other kids, let me just say that that week we only had four of our teenagers in town while others were traveling. And we had planned a special activity for those who were in London but for some reasons, two of them couldn’t join us. So with only two girls able to do something with us that week, Jared and I decided to just take them out to dinner after the Wednesday night bible study rather than do something else the following day.


Over dinner I mentioned to Anisa and Angeli that I was going to a lavender field with Joy wearing the skirt I just made. The girls were thrilled with the prospect of visiting a lavender field for the first time (which greatly surprised Jared. I proved him wrong ha!), they were giggling talking about walking in the field and taking loads of photos in maxi skirt. Anisa even mentioned that she will tell her Mum she needs a new maxi skirt. I told the girls I could teach them how to make the exact same skirt I had on — they got more excited about it so right then and there we planned a sewing workshop. A couple of days later, I took the girls out to a fabric and haberdashery shop to buy the materials. It only costs each of them a total of £9.50 — the fabric was on sale from £5 per metre down to £2 but because they bought 3 metres they got an extra 50 pence discount hence, they only paid £5.50; zipper – £2.30; thread – £1.50, and 20 pence for the hook and eye.


As soon as we returned to church, we started the workshop. I’ve given the girls detailed instructions on how to take a proper body measurement to determine their waistline; to take the desired length of the skirt; fabric allowance for sewing; width and length of waistband, and so on and so forth — it was clear-cut. Easy enough to follow and they did a great job measuring and cutting the fabrics on their own.


Sewing is a little bit tricky for beginners but they very quickly learned how to use the sewing machine. Angeli brought her grandma’s sewing machine; Heather brought her dad’s sewing machine; but regrettably, Anisa’s didn’t work, she has the cutest and ‘girliest’ (just made up the word, it’s not in Webster dictionary yet) sewing machine I’ve ever seen. With only 3 sewing machine and five girls, two of them had to wait and work on something like redo the plaits, or cut the fabrics for the belt while others were sewing. I had to quickly move from one girl to the next, keeping an eye on what everyone was doing to make sure they’re on the right track. It was a lot of work and I was moving around like a headless chicken.  At the end of the second day, I was dead tired and felt like the puppies on the pics below haha! (photos from the internet)

Feeling Tired After Eating! (1)

Except for Heather who, instead of a maxi did an easier midi-skirt version, it took the other girls three sessions to work on their skirts. Sewing the invisible zipper was a bit complicated so I had to do it for them except for Heather who had the courage to do it on her own, it was a trial and error but she did it right after two or three attempts. All of them had to remove the stitches or redo whatever mistakes they made, and at times, they showed their frustrations like rolling their eyes or something — that’s expected from teenagers, right?   They seemed excited and happy doing it, but Heather and Angeli were the ones who showed so much enthusiasm and excitement. And for their first ‘real sewing’ project, I must say that the girls did a great job. I am so proud of them. See photos below of all five girls — Anisa, Angeli, Heather, Jasmine and Jemimah — with their skirts on.

And yes, we finally got to do the lavender field trip last week! Heather was away and missed it. (Sorry Heather!) We couldn’t put it off for another week simply because the lavender season is almost over. In fact, mid-July is the best time to visit when the lavender crop is at its finest. As you can see in the photos, the purple hue isn’t as bright as it should have been a month ago.


The girls look fabulous in their outfits.


They had fun goofing around the field and posing for photos like there’s no tomorrow!


Some people passing by actually looked at the girls from head to toe probably wondering why they were in their Sunday’s best.

Trystan took this beautiful photo of the girls. Well done, Trystan! 

Loved seeing them very happy and having loads of fun. But they’re teenagers so at times they’d roll their eyes when they’re told, ‘Come on girls, give me a big smile!’ 


Oh, and this ‘sleepy-dreamy’ look? Blame it on the photographer and the magnificent smelling lavender.  The gorgeous smell was very relaxing and made us feel sleepy haha! (I love lavender. I could live in a ‘bahay kubo – ‘small hut’ in the middle of a lavender field.)


If anyone (am guessing may be some of our church mates who skipped reading the story and just  wanted to see the photos) is wondering why Joy and Oliver ended up joining our young people’s outing (as they’re not part of our teens ministry), here’s the short answer — please scroll up to read the full story — the teenagers just tagged along with us. Joy and I originally planned for this excursion on our own. We talked about going very early as soon as the field opens, taking selfies and/or photos of each other and sitting in the cafe to catch up over tea and scones. But alas, we didn’t even get to sit down and have tea! Lord willing, next year we’ll get to do that ha!? 


Trystan was our official photographer and he did a wonderful job! Thanks to Oliver/Joy for T’s solo picture below. So cute. He had fun taking pictures of everyone.

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Photos below (courtesy of Joy & Oliver) show the kids and adults alike in action. Even Elijah ended up posing like a model with his head tilted and lips slightly open (with thousands of bees buzzing around us, I was afraid that a bee would actually end up in his mouth as he posed for photographs). 


There were loads of honeybees around the field and being stung by a bee is not part of the lavender tour. 


Trystan took this picture of Oliver, Joy and the girls.


He also captured Elijah and Jeremiah — either gazing at the horizon or watching people, and also, probably arguing on who’s gonna carry the bags.  (We made them carry our bags to free up our hands for the photo shoot. See Elijah carrying my bayong? Thank you man!) Part of the fun of being in the lavender field was actually watching people posing, selfie-taking, or sometimes just staring at the flowers swamped with bees (lavender fields are a magnet for bees).

We didn’t get to tour around the 25 acre field but we got to walk around a portion of the field where the lavender are still in bloom and waiting for harvest. We stayed for about 4 hours and it was long enough for us to leisurely meander around, enjoy the scenery, and take loads of photos.


We first ended up at the lavender shop, about a mile and a half from the field, but it actually was a blessing in disguise because we got to see Mayfield’s quaint shop.


I love its rustic charm, and all the beautiful smelling lavender products.


Mayfield Farm is in a remote but charming part of the Surrey countryside, not in Kent as I originally thought. It’s the only lavender field in England that’s quite close to Britain’s capital city, only 15 miles from central London.


It has a small shop and a cafe at the entrance of the field where anyone can buy fresh and gorgeous smelling freshly harvested lavender, soaps, aromatherapy, cosmetics, and pretty much everything lavender infused products; the guests can also try their lavender tea, lavender scones and other lavender flavoured sweets. They have a car parking which is free of charge, if you’re able to find somewhere to park. It gets quite busy and the field was crowded when we arrived. In fact, we could hardly get any photos without a photo bomber. But at 5 pm people started leaving and we were able to get some good photos without anyone walking, standing or taking selfie behind us.


Jared and Trystan both don’t mind taking photos of everyone but themselves. In saying that however, they happily posed for a nice photo with me before we left. (Photo courtesy of Jas).

See how the lavender is no longer in bright purple hue? Next time we will make sure to visit in mid-July, not in August. Thanks for the pic Trystan!

Jared took loads of photographs and the one below is my number one favourite — the gorgeous blue skies, rows of green and purple hues, and my eyes aren’t shut — they usually are in most photos  — and to top it off, I am holding a lovely bouquet of lavender like a bridesmaid haha!

Thank you Joy and Oliver for the lavender bouquet! It was one of the best props anyone can have for a photo shoot in the field. Carrying my ‘bayong’ would have been so ‘baduy’ (tacky) haha!

Mayfield isn’t like any of those lavender fields in Provence, France (the lavender capital of the world) but for Londoners who love this gorgeous-smelling plant, it is a great place to visit. I’d highly recommend this to anyone who likes lavender or wants an ‘Instagram-worthy’ photographs. I wish they do allow picnics in the field but sadly, they don’t. Food and drink can only be enjoyed in the sitting area provided in the coffee shop.


There is no time limit in place for the guests, they can stay for as long as they want, between 10 AM to 6 PM.


The wafting gorgeous aroma of lavender was overwhelming. I love lavender and just couldn’t get enough of it. It was a blessing to be there; I was reminded while traipsing around the field that only a Wise God can create those magnificent smelling plants. The Lord is the only One who has the power and the ability to provide the increase — growing plants, blooming flowers, bees collecting pollen and nectar to make honey — practically everything around was a beautiful reminder of God’s power in creation. Our teens may not have the time to even pause for a minute and think about God and His glorious creation, but I am so glad they have been a big part of this venture — maxi skirt sewing and lavender farm traipsing — we created a lot of memories together that, hopefully, will linger on long after Jared and I are no longer around. I can only hope that someday their first lavender field trip will become one of those funny stories that they can tell their grandkids.


A few weeks ago I shared a little story how I got into sewing and the reasons for learning a new skill. After I finished my first handmade shift dress, I ventured out into a new project — a pleated maxi ball skirt and a cropped top. I found this tutorial for a skirt that doesn’t require a pattern and the instructions are pretty straightforward and easy to follow. For the cropped top, I couldn’t find any tutorial and just decided to use the pattern I made with Tita Mely


I had fun making the skirt and it made me feel like I could easily create even the more complicated skirt.


Sewing the top was a different story altogether. It was a little bit complicated to make, at least for the first time. The fitting wasn’t right when I tried it on and it took me 2-3 hours a day for about 5 days to finally get it right. The arm hole was the most challenging part to sew and I had to work on it at least five times to make it perfect, partly because it has a lining and I wanted a perfect fit. It was purely experimental — trial and error and yes, it was a huge success if I may say so myself.  Definitely learned a lot and will apply the little skills I learned the next time I sew a sleeveless blouse.


Top photos show some of the mistakes I made — invisible zipper sticking out, twisted fabrics, etc. It was a bit frustrating having to redo the arm hole a few times and I thought about getting Tita Mely to continue the work but decided not to. I started the project and was determined to finish it. And I am so glad I did because in the end, I am happy with the result. The skirt is made of cotton and the top is of poly cotton; both with a cotton lining so it is not see through.  Photos below show the evidence of my hard work. It’s a rather simple maxi skirt and top but putting them on made me feel like a million dollars haha!


Unpretentiously, I was happy to model my own creation.  This maxi skirt is my new favourite; it’s a classic, always in fashion skirt. It fits my size perfectly and the abundance of fabric makes a beautiful flow as I walk, or rather, frolic around the lavender field. 

Love this pic that Jared took of myself. 

The next post will be about the ‘maxi skirt project’ with our teenage girls at church and our trip to the lavender field.

Note: Here’s the link to the 2nd Part.


Summer is my favourite season of the year. I am a tropical girl after all.  Regrettably, London has a very short summer and there is no distinct four seasons here. It’s a rather odd and unpredictable weather with a cold, wet and long winter months but very brief hot summer days. When it’s not raining I like to go out and take a long walk in the park. And we are blessed to live in a neighbourhood that’s only a few minutes walk to some of the most beautiful parks in the city — Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and Holland Park. There are other parks in London that I love to visit whenever I get the chance. One of them is Regent’s Park — a massive area and home of London Zoo, Royal Botanic Society, etc. And my favourite part of the park is the rose gardens which is absolutely stunning when all the flowers are in full bloom.


The rose garden is part of Queen Mary’s Gardens created in the 1930s, and has the largest collection of roses in London. There are over 12,000 roses and 85 variety beds aside from many other flowers like begonias, tulips, etc. It is indeed a floral paradise.


The garden was named after Queen Mary, the wife of King George V. 


In 1932 when the garden opened to the general public, the first superintendent planted a rose garden which was completed in 1934.


Almost all rose varieties, from the classics to the most modern English roses, are present at Regent Parks’ rose garden.


There are shrubberies around that add a sense of fascination to the gardens.


The wonderful sights and scents of the gorgeous roses, the superb shrubberies and many other plants and flowers all play a significant part in the experience of visiting the park.


Visitors can sit on the grass, have picnic, and enjoy the garden.


All the rose varieties have name plaques such as Keep Smiling, Pride of London, Deep Secret, Lovely Lady, and many other captivating names.


I can’t get enough of these roses.


The garden smells absolutely divine.


I’d probably come here every single day in the summer if we live closer to this park.


We hardly ever come here but about a month ago Jared and I managed to do it; we walked around Regent’s Park for about 3 hours from Primrose Hill all the way down to Avenue Gardens and Queen Mary’s Gardens.


Jared and I took loads of photographs and this last one is my favourite (I am not the subject but a rather shadowy figure in the background).  If you love roses and happen to be in London in the summer months you should visit Regent’s Park, and you’ll enjoy seeing the sea of roses.


Stratford-upon-Avon is one of my favourite places in England. Jared took me there the first time when I first arrived in London and then we took another trip with a group of people from our church back in 2003. Then about three weeks ago Jared and I once again visited this medieval town and revelled in its history, charm and beauty.


Stratford-upon-Avon is synonymous with William Shakespeare. The famous English writer was born and grew up in this ancient market town in the mid-1500s. For someone from a far-flung country like myself  who did read ‘Romeo and Juliet’ growing up, it is fascinating to walk around the little street where Shakespeare was born and wandered as a young boy. Seeing the house where he was born and all the wooden buildings that are still standing today during his time is such an amazing experience.


Above photo is a huge house now called “Shakespeare’s Centre” — the part on the left side was the family home where Shakespeare was born in an upper room in 1564 (apparently there’s no record of his exact birth date). The building has the original floor which William walked around on.  The part on the right side was the workshop and shop where William’s father, John Shakespeare, made and sold his gloves.


Shakespeare’s face, name, etc., is everywhere as you walk around town.


On our visit last month we visited Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (above photo) for the first time. It is the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife. Our tour guide shared with us a story how William would walk just about everyday for an hour from his house to get to Anne’s home when he was courting her (today it’s about ten minutes drive to get from Shakespeare House Museum to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage).


Just like the Shakespeare House Museum, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage has a beautiful garden and if you visit in the summer months, it is absolutely beautiful with all types of flowers in full bloom.


Another historic house to visit in this ancient market town is the ‘Harvard House’ — home of a Christian minister, John Harvard (1607–1638), one of the founding fathers of the famous Harvard University. Interestingly, John Harvard’s maternal grandfather Thomas Rogers (1540–1611), was a contemporary and associate of Shakespeare’s father. Both men served on the Borough Council.


I am totally captivated by this 500+ year-old house — the wood carvings, the door with iron work details, its original owners, and just about everything about this building is  fascinating.  


 The black and white building on the left was the school where Shakespeare studied as a little boy; it is now a hotel but the facade is the exact same structure during his time. Notice the street was also that wide in the 15th century.


Anywhere you go around town the famous writer’s name is visible.


I absolutely love all of these black and white Elizabethan houses.


There’s charming little tea houses and coffee shops dotted around the town centre.


As we were leaving I noticed this cute little shop with Christmas tree and other ornaments and I was reminded of home. Back in the Philippines, as soon as September hits you’ll see Christmas decors in the malls.


I always recommend to our family and friends to include Stratford-upon-Avon in their itinerary. Visiting this old town will give visitors the taste of old England and real ‘Englishness’ — if such a thing even exist today. This country has lost its identity and people have no more sense of history and appreciation of its own heritage, but it’s a topic for another day. 

Note: Here’s my previous post about our visit to other towns and villages in the Cotswolds.


Note:My previous post about our Cotswolds exploration was the visit to a historic town referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Cotswolds.’

The Cotswolds were declared an area of outstanding natural beauty in 1966. It is a rural landscape just over an hour drive from Britain’s capital city; it contains medieval stone-built villages, towns, stately homes and gardens, and it is indeed one of England’s most picturesque places. There are loads of quaint villages that dot the hillside with some fairy tale like settings. Jared and I have visited Blenheim Palace together for the first time last summer and we continued on this Cotswolds journey visiting a new place every chance we get.

The villages are typically the sort of romantic English scene with stunning views looking out to the countryside in the distance. The houses are made of old timber and local stone with medieval churches and rivers running through them. Visiting these places remind me of Enid Mary Blyton and her books. The beautiful scenery looks like the images that jumped out of the pages of her children’s books I so loved and enjoyed reading as a little girl. Bibury, Castle Combe and Bourton-on-the-Water (the Venice of the Cotswolds) are just some of the prettiest villages I’ve visited in the Cotswolds.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.