Thursday, March 5, 2015

Afternoon Tea at Selfridges in London

When PBS introduced the series 'Mr. Selfridge'  in March 2013, I was eager to watch it based on my passion for Detroit's iconic J.L. Hudson's Department Store.  Knowing the opening of the first tea room at Marshall Field's Department Store in Chicago was the brainchild of Harry Selfridge was a draw too.  With Selfridge's business savvy, opening a department store of his own was a natural progression, and how awesome that he chose London as the place to do it.

J.L. Hudson's opened for business in 1881, and Selfridges in 1909 - 28 years later.  I found it interesting that tea played a role [of sorts] in the opening of Selfridges, when Harry's original financial partner backed out, and a wealthy London tea broker stepped in to help finance his ambitious dream.

Selfridges is the only store to be named "Best Department Store in the World" three times [2010, 2012, 2014] in the Global Department Store Summits, and it's the second largest shop in the UK after Harrods.

~ The London landmark flagship store is located at 400 Oxford Street ~

Harry Selfridge was the first to suggest lighted store display windows at night, and offer in-store restrooms for customer use.

[Internet Photos]

In the store's tea department Selfridge said, "Never be without fine teas at times like this."  

Do you suppose Violet, Cora, Mary, or Edith Crawley would have popped in Selfridges during one of their trips to London? The Palm Court restaurant was considered the place for London ladies to have lunch. 

I don't know about the Crawleys, but my daughter and I will be having Afternoon Tea at Dolly's Café in Selfridges on day #1 of our trip to London.  I received an e-mail from customer service saying reservations aren't required, but I could call ahead to avoid a possible wait.

Opening a department store is the only similarity between J.L. Hudson and Harry Gordon Selfridge, however.  J.L. Hudson had a very high moral standard and impeccable character, while Mr. Selfridge, according to many, had an addiction to beautiful women [even though he was married and had a family], and gambling.

The history of how Dolly's Café came into existence is a sad one, and begins in 1921 when Selfridge watched a stage show in which beautiful Hungarian identical twins, Jenny and Rosie Dolly, Jazz Age icons, were performing.  That evening set the course of his life on a downward spiral!

The twins were dubbed the 'Dolly Sisters' because their almond-shaped eyes and beautiful features made them 'as cute as dolls'.  Harry became totally captivated by them, Jenny in particular. He was old enough to know better since he was 69 and they were 33, but he willingly indulged their every whim, and lavished his fortune on them.  Yet Jenny refused to marry him.  One morning in 1933, a car in which she was riding [with another suitor] hit a tree, overturned and threw her 30 feet into the air.  She suffered devastating internal and external injuries, including a mutilated face. Her career was over.  She came to the United States, but in 1941, lonely and depressed she hung herself.

As for the self-made millionaire, Harry Selfridge... with his fortune squandered, and deep indebtedness the board at Selfridges had to oust him. He ended up in a rented flat in Putney, often riding a bus to Oxford Street to look at his former store.  He was arrested as a vagrant on one of his visits because his clothes were so shabby.  He died six years after Jenny in 1947.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lodging for London Trip

When I first began planning my trip to London, I visited a travel agent, but she recommended a hotel that a London Registered Guide felt wasn't ideally located to attractions, so I decided to be my own agent. After spending most of yesterday on the Internet looking at hotel websites, I finally found one that looked good, fit my budget, and had positive reviews, so I booked it!  Then I made flight arrangements.  With those two pieces of the trip done I can focus on itinerary plans.  

I'm going to blog about the trip from beginning to end, so today I'm sharing photos of where my daughter and I will be staying for several nights.  For now details won't be specific, but afterwards there'll be details galore!

I read numerous reviews for several hotels, but one topped them all when a unhappy patron declared the person at the check-in desk to be "as much use as a chocolate teapot!"  Doesn't that sound like Violet Crawley's sarcasm! ;-)  I loved it, and filed it in my memory bank.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Downton Abbey Withdrawal

Wasn't Downton Abbey's Season V finale awesome?  I think it's my favorite season.  The costumes were marvelous.  I'm missing the show already and it hasn't even been 48 hours since the season ended on this side of the pond!

[Internet Photo]

This episode was a tea lover's delight from the get-go!  Mrs. Hughes informing Moseley that it wasn't the 1890's so no tea gowns would be accompanying the Crawley ladies to Brancaster Castle... then there was Violet and Isobel's garden tea as they talked about the arrival of Princess Kuragin... and the tea scene in the library at Brancaster when Lord Sinderby almost had a stroke at the appearance of his mistress and love child!   Oh my!

Thankfully we have the promise of a Season VI.  Dame Maggie Smith said she wouldn't go beyond Season VI, and the show just couldn't continue without her.  Didn't you love her 'never complain, never explain' comment?

And how wonderful that Carson finally proposed to Mrs. Hughes!

Now tell me, do you think Henry Talbot will win Mary's heart next season, or did they just introduce him to throw us off track about a romance between Mary and Tom?  Guess we'll just have to wait and see. 

[Internet Photo]

I received an e-mail yesterday morning about something that IS going to happen and I'm excited to share it with you.  Lady Violet's Dower house is actually a private home called Byfleet Manor.  I made reservations to have Afternoon Tea there while I'm in England with my daughter.  I can hardly wait!

The photos are from their website.

For those who watch Mr. Selfridge, Season III, episode 1 airs on March 29th.  That should temporarily help take our minds off the ending of Downton Abbey's season V. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Daughters of the American Revolution

Last fall I was invited by a member of the Royal Oak, MI Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution to speak at their luncheon on March 13, 2015.  The time has rolled around quickly, and is almost here.

The organization, founded on October 11, 1890, has taken me out of my comfort zone, because it's a group I've never spoken to before, nor researched, but I'm finding it very interesting.

Their National Headquarters is in Washington, D.C. [D Street N.W.].  The large city-block-long complex comprises a museum, library, manuscript room and auditorium.  I plan to visit it during my upcoming trip to D.C. in April.   I'm anxious to check out the 125th Anniversary tea wares in the gift shop!

I love their motto:  "God, Home, and Country."  They definitely had their priorities straight when they founded the organization.

It won't be part of my presentation, but I enjoyed learning that ten First Ladies were/are DAR members and First Lady Caroline Scott Harrison [wife of Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President 1889-1893]  helped found the DAR and served as its first president.

Following the research for my recent Love Letters presentation, I found it interesting that DAR was incorporated by congressional charter in 1896 and signed by President Cleveland during his second term in office.  When the couple left the White House in 1893 Frances devoted her time to the care of their three daughters, and declined the role of president of DAR because of the commitment it would require.

While Bess Truman wasn't a member, six months after she became First Lady, the DAR hosted a tea in her honor.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday Reflection...

I read an excellent devotional by Dr. David Jeremiah this week.  It was based on Psalm 34 vs. 1

"I will extol [lift up/highly praise] the Lord at all times;
His praise will always be on my lips."

David [the author of the Psalm] didn't stipulate his praise to the Lord would be limited to 'good days.'  He said, 'at all times' and 'always'.

Dr. Jeremiah's devotion ended with a quote that I wrote in the flyleaf of my Bible:  "Our lips are the barometer of the heart."

Barometers detect changes in weather conditions.  May my lips reveal praise coming from deep within my heart, whether life's conditions are fair or stormy.

May God bless your week!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Thursday Teas at Two

Today my hubby and I went to the Troy Historic Village for their Thursday Teas at Two.  The topic was Motown Sound - a subject I knew he would enjoy.

We picked our tea selection, a dessert to accompany it, and found a place to sit.

Berry Gordy, Jr., a Detroit native, is an American record producer and founder of Motown record label.  He discovered music artists such as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, and Smoky Robinson.

He purchased a two-story family flat at 2648 West Grand Blvd. in Detroit [pictured below], and resided in the upper flat, while the recording studio was housed in the lower flat, and a backyard garage. The house was later dubbed Hitsville U.S.A.

A few great Motown songs were Shop Around; Stop in the Name of Love!; My Girl; Please Mr. Postman; Baby Love; and Baby I Need Your Lovin'.

Mr. Joel Stone, Senior Curator of the Detroit Historical Society entertainingly shared a program about the musical roots of Motown Sound.

At the conclusion of every program there's always a drawing for a china teacup.  Today was my lucky day, because my name was drawn!  Below is the pretty teacup I won.

What a fun way to spend a wintry afternoon in Michigan!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Armoire Photo Cabinet

A week ago I blogged about the Governor Winthrop desk that my husband restored for my stationery supplies.  Today I'm going to brag on his skills again.

In 2007 a friend had an old cedar wardrobe closet that she wanted to dispose of, and I was looking for a cabinet to keep all my pictures and photo albums in.  I wondered if my hubby could breathe new life into the old wardrobe.  After looking at it, he felt it had potential, so we brought it to our garage [his work shop].

I began looking through furniture catalogs and refinishing books and found a picture of a restored armoire that I loved.  I showed the picture to my hubby, and he said he thought he could transform the old cedar closet into the armoire.  The photos below are its stages of transformation.

Ta-Da!  Here it is in its new home - our spare bedroom.  It's an amazing transformation, isn't it?

The perfect place for all my photos and albums - a lot of which are tea parties and tea trips. Now that I use my digital camera and photos are downloaded to my computer, I don't use photo albums like I used to, but I'm so grateful for my armoire/photo cabinet - and, of course, my talented hubby!