The friend I usually go to Tea Party Club events with is currently living in Japan, so this year I stayed in London with my partner. I didn't feel that it was fair to make him go to the event with me, and I wouldn't enjoy myself anyway if I was constantly worrying that he was getting bored, so we arranged to spend the Saturday apart, but to make it a weekend trip so that we had Friday and Sunday together. This meant that I didn't buy a tea party ticket for the Sunday, but honestly I think I would have been too tired to go to two events in a row, so it worked out well.
On Friday, we went to Sea Life London Aquarium, which we had both wanted to do for a long time. We were aiming to do the 2 for 1 train ticket deal, but our tickets got taken away by the machines at Marylebone so we ended up paying full price. I believe there is still a 2 for 1 promotion going on cereal boxes, so if you are planning to go to one of the Merlin attractions, I would recommend doing that deal instead. It's a fun way to spend an afternoon, so I didn't mind missing the deal too much.
|The jellyfish are definitely my favourites. They look like floating princesses.|
|They even have sharks!|
For dinner, we went to Pierino, an Italian restaurant near our hotel. The food is very good and you get a lot for your money.
We stayed at the Imperial College, which is student accommodation turned into a hotel during the holidays. I recommend this place a lot – it's clean, comfortable, quiet, fairly cheap for London, in a great location near the V&A / Natural History / Science Museums, the staff are lovely, and it even includes breakfast. We have stayed there twice now, as it is much better value than Travelodge and Premier Inn. There isn't air con but there is a fan in each room, which is actually quieter than AC. The only thing I would say is that although it is immaculate when you arrive, they don't thoroughly clean it in between your stay, but unless you are very messy or staying for a long time, this shouldn't matter.
|This regal lion watches over your stay|
I didn't have as much time as I hoped to put my coord together, and although I had grand plans for crafting accessories to go with my Haenuli dress, I ended up buying from taobao/highstreet and barely decorated a basket to go with it. I was pleased with my coord in the end, as it ended up fitting my theme of mori-kei/forest, although I'm not sure if it looks very lolita. Also, my hair never behaves itself. It looked perfect when I left the hotel bathroom, covered in hairspray, but it didn't last long.
|My hair never behaves itself. It looked perfect when I left the|
hotel bathroom, covered in hairspray, but it didn't last long.
This year I made lots of rosettes (one of the reasons I didn't have as much time to work on my coord as hoped), and sold a few at the bring and buy. I didn't realise you could have a table set up in that room as a remote vendor, so my rosettes ended up mixed in with people's second hand accessories, but people still seemed to like them.
Wicked and Whimsy took place in the same venue at Pall Mall as last year, and was much improved by the completion of the building work that took place last August – this year we entered through the front instead of the side door, and didn't have to queue for nearly as long. They had also fixed the air conditioning, so although it was very hot, no one was close to passing out from the heat this time!
I met some lovely people as well as talking to a few girls I had met before, mainly from the Midlands meet I attended on ILD, and of course Jess, the wonderful founder of the Otome Sewing Bee group. Everyone was very nice, but I couldn't help feeling a little lonely, as one friend is living in Japan as I mentioned, another is currently travelling, and the other person I know fairly well was very busy in the fashion shows and catching up with friends, which of course I completely understand – I just felt a little sad seeing all the great friendships there and feeling a bit of an outsider. The Oxford comm was not there either, but I hadn't checked to see if anyone was going before the event. I hope everyone is ok, and that they just decided they didn't want to go this time.
|Mei looks badass, but she is an incredibly sweet person.|
The fashion show was very well put together, and made me take a second look at vendors that I had not paid much attention to before. The models did a great job of making all the clothes stand out well. Unfortunately, I started to feel ill just before Haenuli's fashion show, so I missed that, but I felt better after a break and went back into the main room for the Q&A session and raffle.
|Lisa's style is more gothic than this, |
but she models classic and sweet so well.
Haenuli is very sweet, and her English is near perfect. She brought her mother to the event, who wore a special Hanbok (traditional Korean dress) especially made for the occassion. Haenuli told us the story of how she built her business, and all the pitfalls she has encountered along the way. She is a very inspiring and kind person. She used to work as a preschool teacher, and heard about a competition run by the Korean government for a prize of $20,000 USD for submitting the best business plan. Haenuli won the competition, quit her job, and was really excited to begin her brand – until her roommate changed the business into her name and ran away with all of the money, never to be seen again. Haenuli was devastated, and this is the point that I would have wanted to give up. But she was very determined, and had $10,000 USD in savings. She knew that if she had a little more, she could make her business plan work out. Her mother took out a loan from the bank for the other $10,000, and helped her, as she truly believed in her daughter. As Haenuli recounted this story, her mother looked so proud and started crying. It was very moving, and I think every person in the room wanted to cry along with her.
After the Q&A, I asked Haenuli for a photograph together. She was very nice, and complimented my outfit. I told her that Enchanted Fawn was my dream dress, and she told me she was honoured. She especially liked the deer rosette I made for my basket, so I gave it to her, regretting that I didn't have one nicely packaged, but somehow it felt more genuine this way.
This year I didn't buy very much, and didn't win anything in the raffle. Haenuli brought a limited amount of items to sell, and the new dress, First Bite, sold out before I approached the stall. A lot of the other vendors didn't have items that suited my style, although they were very beautiful. I did buy a brown blouse from the bring and buy, another Peppermint Fox brooch, and another hair accessory from Alchimia. From selling my rosettes, I actually came away with more money than I arrived with, which is very unusual! I think because I had budgeted all year for the event, I felt that anything I bought had to be something I truly loved, and I just didn't find many things like that. However, I do have my eye on Angelic Pretty's Circus Étoile, so maybe I will be able to buy that instead. Mica and Kyra both looked amazing, and I wish I had photos to show you, but I'm sure they will pop up on the Facebook event page soon enough.
On Sunday morning, we went to Le Pain Quotidien, as it looked like a beautiful French bakery from the outside. However, the menu was so expensive that we ended up just getting coffee. The staff seemed annoyed that we weren't ordering food, even though there was still plenty of table spaces left, and took a long time to eventually bring us coffee in bowls instead of mugs. An American couple had ordered breakfast and were getting quite upset, as their food took a long time to arrive, and they thought it tasted stale. Although we noticed their displeasure, the staff did not, as they talked in hushed voices and seemed too scared to approach the waiters to complain.
Afterwards, we visited the Tower of London, something we have never done but always felt that we should. I don't think it is very good value for money compared to Warwick Castle or Blenheim Palace, but I am glad that we did it. The queue to see the crown jewels was very long, and you are not allowed to take photos, but it was interesting to look at. Strangely, the amount of diamonds, precious stones, and gold on the various pieces just looked gaudy and ugly to me. But then, I am a commoner after all. My favourite pieces in that room were the ceremonial trumpet banners (really, this country is ridiculous, isn't it?!) because the embroidery was incredibly detailed and beautiful; the Jewelled Sword of Offering, because it reminded me of fairy tale knights; and a gold punchbowl commissioned by George IV, which was so huge and ornate, that it took so long to make that by the time it was finished, he didn't have much chance to use it before he died – it was so outlandish that it entered Game of Thrones territory; and Queen Victoria's mourning crown, which was small and elegant.
|Wire elephant sculpture|
|The quietest part of the Tower, tucked away in a corner.|
We also saw the ravens, and their size really struck me. The photos don't do them justice, as they were the size of small dogs. They even sounded like they were barking. I find them to be very prehistoric looking and fascinating creatures, and they seemed very intelligent.
The different towers and rooms all had their own secrets and mysteries, such as stone engravings, Walter Ralegh's prison/study, and the unfortunate tale of the two missing princes, whose skeletons were believe to be found years later hidden in a trunk.
The only thing we didn't get to look at was the chapel, as you have to enter the guided tour to go around it, and we were short on time. There are plenty of other chapels in Britain to look at, though.
Overall, I had a great weekend in London, and it was a nice respite from the busy-ness going on in my life right now. Thank you for reading, and I hope my blog posts will be more fashion related in the future. Did you attend Wicked and Whimsy, and if so, what were your thoughts on it? If not, what other fun things have you been up to?