Remember Remember the 5th of November

I’ve always remembered the 5th of November.  Not for the usual Guy Fawkes, bonfire or fireworks but because it’s my Godmother’s birthday.  However the 5th of November has a new additional memory etched in my mind since my second Phyllodes operation was also on the 5th November 2009!

But today is about my Godmother.  She invited me to be her +1 and visit Clarence House.

Clarence_House_royal_residenceOk so perhaps we’re not going for a cocktail party with Prince Charles but we do get to have a peek in a little bit of Clarence House, drink a glass of Highgrove bubbly and do some Christmas shopping… and all that for charity too!  Once a year Charles invites guests to attend a Christmas sale at Clarence House to raise funds for his many charities through The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation.  There is a marquee (with errr solid walls) set up in the garden and leading from the house.  The marquee is stocked with lots of goodies perfect for Christmas gifts, table presents and stocking fillers.

What a wonderful occasion.  We had our allocated time slot and queued up behind others, including Jan Leeming, before our credentials were checked and we made our way into Clarence House.  Our route took us through a lovely entrance way filled with stunning antiques, pictures and photographs, down corridors with walls adorned with equine portraits and into a room that smelt of cinnamon and Christmas as the huge tree sparkled with baubles and reminded us that Christmas really is just around the corner.  A glass of bubbly was presented to us by a butler dressed in Clarence House livery together with a delicious mince pie.

On the other side of the room were a few stalls set up with some incredible handmade items including some stunning handcrafted jewellery and hats.  Then through to the main shopping event in the marquee attached.  The space was beautifully stocked with baskets overflowing with gifts, tables adorned with all things fabulous and special.  The team clearly did a wonderful job at displaying the items for us all to plunder and purchase.  Sadly no photos though as we were asked to turn off our phones and told no photographs.

I’d love to post more about the items I bought… but then again the Christmas recipients may well be reading this post!  Suffice it to say the The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation has a few more £ in their coffers!

Clutching our Highgrove shopping bags we headed up to Piccadilly.  We’d booked a table for afternoon tea in the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason.

images-11We were greeted on the fourth floor by the wonderful sound of a baby grand piano being played beautifully.  fortnum1  images-12

 

I loved that the restaurant was spacious and the tables set apart from each other.

It makes such a nice change to be in a restaurant where you can hear your companion’s conversation rather than the stranger to your right!   Also worth remembering if taking afternoon tea and wishing to be discreet or perhaps with someone of an older generation!

The menus arrived and I was staggered by the variety of teas available and the required choices that needed to be made.  Surely a little overkill and confusing for diners?  I got lost in the massive selection and we ended up choosing ‘safe’ teas.  Our afternoon tea arrived quickly, the teas poured and our waiters then took their leave allowing us to chat privately.

fortnum2The tea was delicious and plentiful.  We were offered a replenishment of any of the items as each layer (sandwiches, scones or cakes) was eaten.  For us it was plenty and I added a Fortnum & Mason ‘doggy bag’ (errr beautifully packed F&M box tied with a ribbon) to my shopping bags.

We laughed that I had not dressed appropriately to match my coordinated shopping bags.  Highgrove and Fortnums both share the same distinct blue/green.

Next year I shall go prepared!

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