Bon Appétit! Julia Child’s kitchen at the National Museum of American History

by Sandra Hutchinson

In 2001, when the food historians at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. learned that famous chef, TV personality and cookbook author Julia Child (1912-2004) was selling her home in Cambridge, Mass. and moving back to her home state of California, they contacted her to discuss the possibility of including some of her culinary objects in the museum’s collection. They were invited to visit Ms. Child in Cambridge, and she agreed to donate the entirety of her kitchen to the museum — literally every object that she had collected and used in her kitchen from the late 1940s, through 2001, including appliances, pots and pans, cookbooks on the shelf, even the magnets on the fridge.

The signage says the only things the museum added are the plastic tomatoes (in the trug) and bananas in the bowl on the table. Also, the museum recreated the linoleum floor from Ms. Child’s kitchen out of paper.

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Paradise Mill and Silk Museum, Macclesfield, England

by Sandra Hutchinson

The Silk Road may have begun in China, but many people say the western terminus was the city of Macclesfield, in Cheshire, in northwest England. Macclesfield is known for once being the world’s largest producer of finished silk products. In the 1830s, 71 silk mills operated in this market town.

Today, you can walk through Paradise Mill, a working museum where visitors can see original Jacquard looms demonstrated by museum staff. Next to Paradise Mill is the Silk Museum, which presents an extensive exhibit on the history of silk weaving and printing, including a display of a number of looms.

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Levens Hall—stunning topiary in Cumbria, England

By Sandra Hutchinson

Near Kendal, in Cumbria, on the southern edge of England’s Lake District, lies Levens Hall, with its extensive topiary garden, said to be the oldest and most extensive garden of its type in the world.

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Levens Hall itself is still a private residence, home to the Bagot family, but it and the surrounding gardens are open to the public (for a fee) from spring to fall. Photographs are not permitted inside the home, so unfortunately, I have none to share. The original home was built circa 1250 to 1300, and subsequent additions turned it into the sprawling manor house that visitors see today.

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A week in Beatrix Potter’s Lake District in England—a bit of heaven

by Sandra Hutchinson
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Many people know of Beatrix Potter, the English writer and illustrator, because of her series of beloved children’s books about Peter Rabbit and his friends. 

But Miss Potter (1866-1943), later known as Mrs. Heelis, was far more than a genteel Victorian lady who penned stories about woodland creatures like bunnies and hedgehogs and painted charming watercolors of them wearing human clothing. She was a naturalist, a conservationist, a scientist (a mycologist, to be exact), a visionary merchandiser of her products, a farmer who raised Herdwick sheep, and a far-sighted land preservationist. 

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Churchill War Rooms, London

by Sandra Hutchinson

If you’ve seen the recent movie The Darkest Hour, for which Gary Oldman won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his depiction of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during World War II, you’ll know that some of the pivotal scenes take place underground, in what were called the Cabinet War Rooms. 

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This warren of rooms is located underground, below a government building just a few blocks from the Parliament building, in Westminster. It was the command center for the British armed services from 1939 to March 1945, when the German bombing ended. 

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Stopping by Liberty of London

by Sandra Hutchinson

Continuing with my posts about some of my favorite London spots, here’s the view inside (and one of the outside) of Liberty, the landmark London department store.

First, the building itself, on Great Marlborough Street in London’s West End— an imposing Tudor revival, built in 1924, using timbers from two sailing ships. Note the weathervane.

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Must see (and taste) in London: Harrods and Fortnum & Mason Food Halls

by Sandra Hutchinson

It might be a touristy thing to do, but when in London, many visitors feel compelled to make at least one visit to the Food Halls at both Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.

Harrods Food Halls are legendary. Located in a sprawling building on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, Harrods is now owned by the state of Qatar, but the Food Halls are still quintessentially English. The space is not only a feast for the palate, but for the eye, too, with magnificent tiled walls and ceilings, gleaming glass cases filled with everything from meat pies to Scotch eggs to locally-sourced shellfish to exquisitely crafted tiny cakes, smartly outfitted and aproned staff wearing straw boaters, and a seemingly unlimited selection of teas and biscuits. There are dine-in options (like the Seafood Bar and the Fish & Chips counter), and a vast selection of prepared foods perfect for a picnic in nearby Hyde Park (or in your hotel room).

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