Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Worshipful Company of Carmen

Believe me, London has its fair share of ceremonies and traditions, but one of the most obscure ones I've seen took place in July in the Guildhall Yard located in the section of London called The City. Hosted each year by the Worshipful Company of Carmen, one of the Livery Companies of the City of London, this ceremony has been taking place for the last 500 years.They originally controlled the supply of carts and wagons allowed in the city, so each year they would brand the carts with a mark for that year to certify that is was valid for use.

The tradition continues today, although the vehicles are a bit different than 500 years ago. Dignitaries, Chelsea pensioners, and special invited guests were invited to this year's ceremony to view the physical branding of vehicles both new and old as they passed in front of the viewing stand of the Lord Mayor.

This year, the vehicles were branded with the letter S, in the spirit of the old tradition.

Many passed by in review to be branded including this 1910 dust cart,

and this early "moving van."

Several buses made their way through including this 1952 Leyland Royal Tiger Coach

and this 1950 Bedford Sea Front Bus.

A 1959 wood paneled truck for carrying livestock

and a 1921 Burrell Road Locomotive, which made quite an entrance.

Full of gents and ladies in formal dress, this 1926 Char-a-banc, which was popular for sightseeing trips to the seaside or country ran just fine until it approached the entrance to the Guildhall Yard. At that point, it just "played out," and much to the dismay of all its posh passengers, it had to be emptied and pushed up for branding.

Amidst all the innovative new vehicles and the vintage cars and trucks, slipped in this 1939 Rolls Royce which has been used in service to the queen as her luggage car.

I leave you with a photo of the Guildhall, taken on a calmer day, because I think it is one of the prettiest buildings in London. As the Cart Marking Ceremony came to a close, the Lord Mayor and distinguished guests slipped inside for a champagne reception and lunch, making for a proper finish to one of the quirkier ceremonies still taking place in London today.

Friday, August 27, 2010

London: A to Z

Do you like quizzes? You might enjoy this tribute to London done by artist, Laura Seaby, using some of the well known sights of London. The print can be ordered through Keep Calm Gallery, along with many other prints which might catch your fancy.

The key is in the lower right hand corner, and I might have to buy it to identify all the icons--I'm stumped on a few! How about you?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Earlier in the week I posted about a wedding of friends that we attended in Pebble Beach. Black tie dress on the lawn of the 18th hole--perfect setting for a couple who love golf.

One of the bonuses of going to Pebble Beach was a chance to stay with friends from London who now live part time in Carmel-by-the-Sea. I fell in love with their home seen here.


Walking the streets of Carmel-by-the-Sea, you find "cottages" of all styles,


including several that look like they could be straight out of the Cotswolds in the English countryside.


Fascinating to me was the regulation that the trees can not be cut down when there is any home construction. Isn't this tree amazing?


This house is called The Bark Tree by the locals.


This was one of the favorites from the outside, beautifully landscaped and actually for sale now, and we lucked into a Sunday afternoon open house.


For $2,395,000 million dollars, it can be yours. Three bedroom, 2 bath, 1600 square feet. Take a peek here.

The gardens of many of the homes were spectacular.


Love this one,


especially the front gate.

Trimmed in blue, this house stood out.


And this is the house that faces our friends' house. If you could pick one for yourself, which one would it be? I've labeled them with letters.


Clint Eastwood, former mayor of Carmel, has opened this restaurant and inn, Mission Ranch,

with a beautiful vista out the back patio. Formerly an 1800's ranch and dairy, it was rescued from being developed into condos by the former mayor.

Shops in the area ooze with charm,

and tempt visitors and locals alike.

And did I mention, they LOVE their dogs there?  The famous Cypress Inn, partly owned by Doris Day, is probably the most pet friendly hotel in town, as well as the beaches where dogs run free, and many restaurants which are happy to have your furry friends as guests along with you.
We fell in love with the casual, welcoming spirit of this city of artisans and Pacific breezes. Did you spot a place where you might want to live?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Destination weddings

Have you ever been to a destination wedding?   A couple of weeks ago, hubby and I jetted west to Pebble Beach for the wedding of some good friends.
It was only the second destination wedding we had ever been to, unless you count that time we went to Enid, Oklahoma for a big wedding.

This time, we were ecstatic at the chance of spending some time in Pebble Beach

and Carmel, while joining our friends for their nuptials.

Mike was thrilled that the morning activities included golf  at Pebble Beach

where we were staying. Here's a view of the 18th hole.

I wouldn't be completely honest if I led you to believe if was beautiful and sunny while we were there, like the first pictures indicate. We saw the sun for a total of about two hours during our stay there in Pebble.
It seems that when inland California is extremely hot, the chances are higher for fog in Pebble Beach along the coast.


So even though it was foggy and cool at wedding time on the lawn of the 18th hole,

all it took was the arrival of the bride to completely brighten up the day.

Next stop--charming Carmel, just a stone's throw away.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Surrounding Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle, situated in West Sussex, is surrounded 

by 40 acres of grounds and gardens. The view from the keep is lush and verdant.

There are formal gardens which are a tribute to Thomas Howard, the 14th Earl of Arundel

 with beautiful fountains and classic follies. 

Flowers are abundant, including this thistle, which is the national flower of Scotland.

I enjoyed some of the wild flowers the best

which framed the Arundel Cathedral. seen in the distance.

We found the guides at the Arundel Castle to be some of the most gracious ones ever, and they recommended we stroll down to the Black Rabbit Pub for a late lunch along the River Arun. Perfect, we thought, a little walk down the river would be refreshing.

Paddington got distracted when he found a discarded friend on top of the rubbish bin.

After walking for what seemed like ages, we finally found the pub one and a half miles away

Thank goodness, it was a pleasant afternoon with the castle in the background,

as we enjoyed some typical shrimp and chips

 and bangers and mash. With peas....always.

The town at the foot of the castle was charming

with cute shops and restaurants which would have been oh so much closer than the Black Rabbit Pub.

On the recommendation of a friend, we checked out Spencer Swaffer Antiques, a favorite among many, for treasures to take back home.  We did not find anything this trip that we could not live without, but

we had a hard time convincing Paddington that these "vintage" friends did not have a train ticket back to London with us.

Arundel gets 5 stars from all us, including Paddington!