Deep Fried Diaries

The insider's scoop on food, travel & southern culture

SIMONE SEZ: Best of British


Just placing a quick call

The boys and I have been abroad! Only for vacation, not to worry. It’s something we’ve always talked about—broadening the boy’s cultural horizons—and yet, the plan always seemed so far from fruition.

Now we’ve come and gone in The Big Smoke (London), and although the long days abroad had us knackered (tired), we were absolutely chuffed to bits about our trip (overwhelmingly pleased).

You’ll have to excuse me, I seem to have picked up a spot of British slang.

There’s a famous quote by St. Augustine that goes a little something like this:

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

I’ve always loved that metaphor, as I feel it conveys the importance of curiosity and adventure in life. To travel is to open your eyes to new places and people, and to push yourself outside you cultural comfort zone. Otherwise, we develop a distorted sense of reality—one in which the world revolves around us.

Try telling a kid that the world doesn’t revolve around them, and well… you can’t. Because when you’re a kid, everything revolves around you—that’s the nature (and privilege) of being a kid. But in all seriousness, it’s important to me as a mother to provide them with glimpses of other cultures, so that they can begin to challenge complacency and unlearn the innocent egoism of youth. And we’re off to a good start! The boys and I certainly covered some ground the last two weeks, and fast:


The boys & Annie after lunch at the Wolseley

When our plane touched down in London, my dear friend Annie Cumberland—who has been like a sister, mother and best friend to me for 25 years—scooped us up at the airport, and the cultural experience had begun.

To the boys, everyone was talking in funny accents and driving on the wrong side of the road. The Wolseley seemed the perfect place for a “proper” lunch—Spencer (8) had the smoked salmon & chips (fries), and Kemp (10) the langouste. (Yes, they have very discerning palates).

We took a ride on the London Eye that same day, and I can’t imagine the boys having a better first glimpse of the mother country. Big Ben was staring us right in the eye, and we had a great view of the stately St. Paul’s Cathedral on the horizon. The very next day, like true tourists, we breathed in the London air atop a double-decker bus. Friday was Westminster Abbey, BuckinghamPalace, Churchill War Rooms, more fish & chips and riding on the Tube. We followed a busy day with dinner and a theater show: Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. Wonderful!


Mad Hatter Tea at the Sanderson Hotel

I passed the boys off to Auntie Ro and Uncle Peter, who took them to explore the Tower of London. Meanwhile, Annie and I—along with her other sister’s family (Yvonne, Jake and their handsome sons George, Edward and Charlie)—were off to the races: the Royal Ascot! We were all dressed in our proper attire, fit to see the Queen. I had the perfect hat to match my vintage dress, and I fit right in with the dashing crowd. Jake and I got to betting—not breaking the bank, just 5 pounds here and there. The biggest chance we took was on the Queen’s horse “Estimate” (a monarch’s horse had never won), and by God, this one did! History was made before my eyes, jolly good show.


Elenaor Olver, Anne Holmes-Drewry & I at the Royal Ascot


Holding the winning ticket!

That Saturday, the boys and I met up with their cousins (my sister-in-law’s family) for a James Bond style boat ride down the Thames River. We went on to visit Ben Franklin’s house, had a private tour of Parliament (where I imagined Winston Churchill commanding the House of Commons), and then on to dinner in Nottinghill. Everything was absolutely splendid, and no rain to be found!


About to take our James Bond style boat ride down the Thames with John & William Stafford (My sister-in-law Alexandra Stafford’s brother)

That Sunday, the boys and I took a little jaunt to Scotland to explore our Scottish heritage—another reason this trip to the United Kingdom has been in the pipeline for so long.

I feel that it’s important they learn a little something about where they came from and to answer their questions about Grandma Greta (my mother), whom they never got to meet. But more on our Scottish trip in the next post!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures. We had a wonderful trip, but always good to be home. Best of British! (Best of British luck)

I’m Simone. And this is what simone sez…

The crowds at the Royal Ascot

The crowds at the Royal Ascot (Look closely: Queen Elizabeth II getting her trophy!)

The boys & I overlooking Big Ben

The boys & I overlooking Big Ben from the London Eye

The boys and their cousins

The boys and their cousins, William & Jamie (who happens to go to UVA)



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This entry was posted on July 10, 2013 by in SIMONE SEZ.

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