If you aren’t lucky enough to be heading to Windsor on May 19th, the next best way to join in the fun is to gather a group of girlfriends and host a royal wedding viewing… More
Last weekend, on a very hot early spring day, the husband and I made the 3-hour round trip to Toowoomba to enjoy their annual Carnival of flowers event. The carnival of flowers is a ten-day event held each September with various food, wine, market and music events held each day, with a stunning floral backdrop as the city’s parks and private gardens all explode with colour.
I had really wanted to go the first weekend, when Queens Park comes to life with a food and wine festival, the grand floral parade and side show alley featuring all your show favourites but we were both ridden with bronchitis so attended the second weekend. The second weekend features the annual polo match and local markets.
The first stop in Toowoomba was the local visitor information center where even the toilets were dressed up in their festival best! This is a must stop as it is not only the cities public parks and gardens that put on a show but also the citizens of Toowoomba themselves who enter each year into the Chronicles garden competition. At the visitor information centre, you can get a map of all the private garden winners so you can stop by the overall best or see the winners from a category of interest, with categories including best Australian native garden, best display of flowering annuals and bulbs, small garden/courtyard, floral garden and acreage garden among others.
The next stop was Queens park where we enjoyed the local country markets featuring beautiful handmade crafts and wooden furniture before enjoying ice cream and a Devonshire tea from the local country women’s association while a 1920’s jazz band played in the background. The botanical gardens within the park contain the biggest floral display within the city and there is also a look out for a complete park view.
The next stop was Laurel Park. The park contains family friendly floral displays such as train made from topiary clipped hedges, a Chinese garden and gardens beds with flowers grown in different shapes for the children to hunt for, such as a round garden bed containing a knife and fork out of flowers and Big Ben clock hedge. Devonshire tea can be enjoyed at the local croquet club and their perfectly manicured lawn lies within the park, they are missing a prime opportunity for promoting the sport by not having games of croquet running.
Finally, we took our map and headed to some of the private gardens in the area. For anyone who loves to head to open homes on the weekend when they aren’t looking to buy a house, the carnival provides the opportunity for you to enter private properties, back yards and gardens and it is inspiring to see what some people have managed to do with their space in a city garden. I left with lots of ideas that I am wanting to implement in my own home but these will need to wait for 8 weeks until we are in our new home in Sydney.
I would recommend staying overnight and having the opportunity to attend some of the events one day such as the food and wine festival, garden tours or one of the progressive food tours then enjoying visiting the many private gardens and homesteads the next day.
Onto the fashion, I was wearing the girls wanna have fun dress from Australian designer Review which is currently on sale and the Admire bag in black. If you are into vintage inspired ladylike looks you should definitely check out the brand. They currently have an extra 30% off sale items as well.
On a personal note, my Instagram account @theladywallace has fallen victim to the recent bug which has been randomly deleting accounts. Last night I lost my entire account. I have started another one which is @theladywallacediaries so I hope you will follow me their if you are interested in what I get up to each day. Thank you also to everyone who had such kind words to say about my old account and I hope to connect with all of you again soon.
On Wednesday, this week I had the absolute pleasure of heading to the Palazzo Versace Hotel on the Gold Coast for a charity fundraiser high tea which was also attended by a very special guest speaker, Paul Burrell, former butler to the late Princess Diana. A controversial figure within Royal watching circles, whilst I understand he is not everybody’s cup of tea, he did show me how to pour the perfect cup in case I ever have the pleasure of hosting her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II for tea.
The high tea was in support of Young care, an organisation which helps young people with high assisted living needs exit or avoid admissions to aged care facilities.
There were two events on the day. The Royal afternoon tea and conversation with Paul Burrell was the main event however prior to that there was a VIP event for only 12 people which I attended.
Nervously ushered into an elevator we had no idea where we were going until we ended up in Paul’s very own room, the hotels Imperial suite, a luxurious three-room suite which boosts possibly the best view on the Gold Coast. With mellow music coming from a guitar player/singer in the corner and Versace staff circulating with trays of champagne and cucumber finger sandwiches, Paul Burrell emerged into the lounge. Just as synonymous with Diana to me as her ‘boys’ Princes William and Harry, Kensington Palace or that pearl and sapphire choker, it is quite a thrill when he appears, almost like catching up with an old friend as his image is so familiar. The presence of Diana lingers around him, almost to the point you expect her to pop through the door at any second.
Much like a cocktail party on an episode of the Bachelor, everyone breaks off into small groups where we wait for our own private ten minutes with him where we can take a photo, have him sign a copy of his bestselling biography ‘A royal duty’ and ask a few questions each.
My first impressions of Paul Burrell, he has a smile which is larger than life, he radiates warmth and personality, he is slightly embarrassed when you ask him for a hug but always obliging, he is skilled at putting people at ease and calming their nerves, he effortlessly drawers you into conversation. His sunny disposition and megawatt smile are what directly led to him getting the job as the Queens personal footman after only two years of service at Buckingham Palace. That and an uncanny knack at being effortlessly able to pinpoint someone’s needs and fulfil them before they ask. Summoned to see the Queen from the breakfast table one morning as she was interested in the ‘footman who always smiles so much’ he thought the only thing a footman could be summoned for at this time of the day was to walk the Queens beloved corgis. Slipping 2 sausages in his back pocket he went to see the Queen. ‘Would you like to walk my Corgis?’ she asked, ‘of course’ he replied. Out in the gardens of Buckingham Palace the Queen peeked through the curtains as her 8 corgis, normally terrors to control were enthralled and chasing down the footman, or his two sausages at least. Upon his return, the Queen commented ‘They do seem to love you, I think I will keep you’ and promoted he was to be one of two of the Queens personal footman.
In a world where we are so used to seeing commentary from friends and family of Diana’s or the Royals being split firmly in two different camps and loathing the other side, it is surprising to see someone talk about both the Queen and Princess Diana with the same love and affection. But he does. Possibly the only member of Diana’s camp who didn’t want to cheer during Charles Spencer’s eulogy inside Westminster Abbey, he wanted to tell people to stop clapping, to look at the Queen, that the Queen was heartbroken. Always respectful of the entire Royal family he cannot be baited to speak poorly of even Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. When asked of his opinion of Camilla and Charles’s relationship he simply replies, ‘I can never speak warmly of Camilla, I am Diana’s man, she was not my mistress, she was somebody else’s mistress, Diana was my mistress and it is with her my love and loyalty will always lie’. In fact, I kind of get the feeling that he wishes people would stop mentioning both Camilla and Diana in the sentence. That he does not want Camilla to become as synonymous with Diana as her boys, Kensington Palace and her style. That he hopes when we focus our discussion on Diana we will focus on her legacy, her charity work, the way she changed the Royals and the world, her sons and grandchildren and not be fixated on the parts of her life which brought such pain and heartache.
It is surprising how little gossip and scandal he does discuss. When he talks of Diana he discusses their friendship, her charity work, her love for her sons all peppered with personal memories of their day to day interactions with one another. Topics such as previous lovers including Hasnat Khan and Dodi Al Fayed, preparing for her funeral, her divorce with Charles only come up when he is asked directly and ask him we do constantly. When asked if he wishes that Diana had never married Charles he replies it is impossible ‘it was Diana’s destiny to marry Charles, to have those two boys, to change the monarchy and the world today, to pave the way and go through the hardships she did to create a better life for her boys and grandchildren, it was her destiny’.
Ushered from the private event to the foyer outside the ballroom for the afternoon tea we are greeted by doorman dressed as Queen guards and trumpeters announce the event officially open. Walking into the ballroom we are greeted with candle light and over 5000 flowers, mostly roses in tribute to England’s rose. My own outfit, a dress from Australian brand Review, covered in a rose pattern blends in with the décor.
After some on stage introductions Paul joins our table for a traditional afternoon, the menu includes delights such as English cucumber finger sandwiches, candied lemon and sultana scones served with balsamic strawberry jam with cream, guava and passionfruit mousse and finishes with a chocolate dome etiquette smash, so called as it contains a small take home guide book on etiquette.
Halfway through the tea Paul takes to the stage for an hour presentation where he talks of his life pre-Royals, how he was studying a hospitality and hotel management course and dreamed of working at sea with Cunard cruise line. He applied to Cunard at the same time he applied at Buckingham Palace. In a secret, he only found out from his younger brother on the day of his mother’s funeral, his mother had received two letters on the same day, one from Cunard and one from Buckingham palace, both offering him employment. She took the letter from Cunard and tossed it on the fire telling his younger brother that if he went far away to sea they would never see him again. It seems just as much as he believes it was Diana’s destiny to marry into and change the Royal family and touch people the world over by becoming ‘the people’s princess’ it was just as much his destiny to enter a life service with the Royals and to be there for Diana, the princess needed her rock. He talks of her work, their trips overseas, her joy at connecting with the common people and making a real difference on issues such as land mines, her legacy of her sons and grandchildren. Through William, he feels the Monarchy is in safe hands and will flourish in the future. He advises he has no inside special knowledge but he sees Harry being happy in a way he hasn’t seen since before his mother’s death and he predicts another Royal wedding next year. I’m sure we all have our fingers crossed for that one! He addresses the charges of theft of Diana’s personal items and the intervention by the Queen which stopped the trial, the only time the Queen has intervened in such a legal matter. He says his favorite memory is of Diana, in her robe, her hair in a towel, playing her piano, finally having a moment to live her life like she doesn’t have cameras pointed on her at every second.
What did I learn most from my afternoon with Paul Burrell? A little kindness goes a long way, life is precious and can change at any second, a sunny disposition and a smile can get you far in life and the importance of a thank you note, in fact I am off to write one now.
Luckily for the British at heart, there are many people looking for a comforting British fix so one can find a tea room or British pub just about anywhere these days. I am always on the lookout for authentic British themed places to visit and one of my favourites must be Teddies N Sweets British tea rooms in Brisbane.
A quaint little cottage style tea room and traditional British sweet store I have had the pleasure of visiting a few times for high tea and lunch and popped by this weekend for their reopening after undergoing a recent renovation where they added a sitting room area complete with decorative fireplace.
Post renovation the tea rooms have retained their British charm, the shop is still filled to the brim with Teddies that are on sale, British and royal themed souvenirs, think the Queens 90th birthday memorabilia and double decker bus teapots and a thank you note from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is framed proudly on the wall from where the owners sent a children’s book as a gift upon the birth of Prince George.
They serve breakfast, lunch and tea 6 days a week from Tuesday to Sunday. The food is simple home cooked British fare, with staples such as bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie and my favourite the ploughman’s lunch. They offer a full dessert menu with delectable sweets such as bread and butter pudding, apple crumble and a traditional knickerbocker glory, always a delicious treat that I love after a beach front stroll along the Redcliffe pier which is just across the road from the tea rooms. For more special occasions you can even enjoy high tea. On my next visit, I plan to book the new sitting room area for just that.
With a full belly and smile on your face you can then browse through the gifts and teddies section, before purchasing some British sweets and grocery items to take home so you can keep enjoying your British fix once you return home.
Teddies n sweets is in the Cominos Arcade on Redcliffe Parade in Brisbane and you can phone them for bookings on (07) 3283 7327. You can also check out their website on http://www.teddiesnsweets.com.au/
Did you do anything to get your own British fix this weekend?
I was recently tagged in one of those 20 random facts posts and as there is simply not enough room to put 20 facts onto Instagram, I thought I would turn it into this week’s blog post. So, if you have ever wanted to find out more about me, read on………
1)People are shocked when they hear about my wedding. Everyone says that I am the most princessy person they have ever met and they can’t believe I didn’t have the full princess wedding. Hubby and I flew to Las Vegas and had the whole tacky Elvis Vegas wedding works!
2)Before I met my husband, when I was 26 and single, I bought my own house. A cute little two-bedroom townhouse. Don’t let anyone tell you, that you can’t if you’re a young single woman.
3)For my day job, I work in recruitment. I’ve been with the same employer for 10 years, quite an achievement considering we move interstate every 3 years for my husband’s job.
4)I hate coffee! Detest it, I can’t even stand the smell. I’m a tea drinker all the way.
5)I think San Francisco is the most romantic place in the world! I found it way more romantic then Paris.
6)I cried at the memorial for Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods
7)I loved Princess Diana as a child but I don’t think of her as a real person like I do with Kate. Kate seems like someone I could go shopping with and to high tea with whilst Diana is larger than life. She is more like a fairy-tale Princess, like Cinderella or Snow White (despite her life being anything other than a happy fairy-tale)
8)I love to have fresh flowers in the house. My favourite are peonies but they are only in season for about 5 weeks of the year. The rest of the year I will buy tulips when in season or roses. If money wasn’t an issue I would have fresh bouquets of different flowers in every room of the house all year long!
9)My husband is the third man I have dated, as they say the third time lucky.
10)My fur baby Charlie turns 16 this year. He is a bit of a miracle, having survived an aggressive form of Cancer 2 and a half years ago. At them time we were told it would be a miracle if we still had him in 8 months’ time.
11)My happiest memories are all on holidays. Whether its eating clam chowder in San Francisco, drinking champagne in Buckingham Palace or swimming in waterfalls in Vanuatu, I have a real passion for travel. My husband and I have made the decision not to go on any more trips though whilst we have Charlie as he is too old to go into vacation care.
12)I find it impossible to sleep in past 6:30 in the morning, even on the weekends or on vacations, it drives my husband nuts
13)I got excited when I read the news reports that linked Prince Harry and actress Emma Watson, I thought they would be perfect together. As we now know this was all gossip. When news reports broke, that Harry was dating Meghan Markle I thought it was all gossip again and didn’t read any of it. That was until Kensington palace released that press statement…..
14)I have been reading a lot of classic literature this year and am currently reading Anne of Green Gables. The biggest lesson I am learning from this book is I have a highly-underutilised imagination which I really should put to better use!
15)My most expensive replikate purchase was a DVF Simyonette coat I bought from EBay. I had just gotten my tax return and I bought it the week of my birthday so my husband chipped in as well, I think he was glad to not have to come up with a present of his own that year. Sometimes I look at the coat and think it should be on display in a museum.
16)My replikate obsession goes beyond clothing and accessories to household goods. My house is full of Emma Bridgewater pottery and Jo Malone washes and candles just like Kate used at her wedding.
17)Whenever Prince Harry comes on TV my husband and I get into a fight about who his father is, it gets heated and I usually end up storming out of the room! Thankfully it’s just about the only thing we fight about
18)I met Tabitha Webb at her store in London
19)Our whole house is slowly being changed to shabby chic décor. Expect a few upcycling posts to come soon as I am obsessed with turning all our furniture white. It just makes all the rooms look so much brighter and lighter.
20)My husband says that teapots are slowly taking over the house but 7 isn’t that much……. What do you think? Feel free to share your own random facts below!
What is a repliKater to do when she has a large and beautiful collection of Kate inspired clothing spilling out of every closet in the house and an underutilised guest bedroom. The answer was simple and obvious- create a beautiful walk in dressing room where my collection could be displayed and enjoyed every day, not just on the day I happened to be wearing that item. The application was a bit more difficult. It took about 6 months of research and planning to come up with a practical solution that suited my needs and lifestyle but in the end, I created the perfect space that suited all my needs and come in at well under $500. Read on to see my dressing room and hear my tips on how to create your own……
The idea for my dressing room was planted about 12 months ago when I had a team from Australian Womans Day magazine come to my home for a photo shoot to accompany an article on repliKating. At the time, we had emptied out the spare room temporarily and 2 stylists created a walk-in wardrobe.
About 6 months later I began to take the idea a bit more seriously and had two IKEA systems recommended to me. The first was the stolmen system. This system offered mix and match shelving and racks you could piece together to suit your needs using a tension-mounted pole system that you install inside a closet or against a blank wall. This system was quite budget friendly and left all your clothing displayed which I loved but seemed quite labour intensive to get up initially and would put a lot of holes in the walls which we couldn’t do as renters, who need to move interstate every 3 years for my husband’s work.
The second Ikea system I considered was the Pax system. Again, you could mix and match to suit your needs, but this system pieces together traditional wardrobes which would leave my clothes hidden away (out of sight, out of mind) and would be difficult to move and we are due to move at the end of the year.
Finally, I settled on using simple clothing and shoe racks, with a bed side table for hosiery, a full length portable mirror and a feature piece which is my stunning dressing table, given to me as a 5th year wedding anniversary gift in December last year (5 years is the traditional wood for gift anniversary). If you can create a permanent space though I would highly recommend considering either IKEA system.
Below are my tips for creating your own walk in wardrobe space;
- Do your research so you can pick the perfect solution for your needs. Know exactly how many shoes, bags etc. you need to store and are you likely to add more in the future so need a system you can add to. With my simple shoe racks, I can just keep adding them on top as needed. Select your budget. What are your living circumstances? Is it possible you will need to move in the next 6-12 months or can you make your room a bit more permanent and solid
- Matching coat hangers go a long way towards making everything look prettier and neater and saves a lot of room.
- If using portable racks such as mine you will need to come up with an alternative option for heavier items like winter coats. The bedroom I used had a small built in robe where I have my coats and gowns hanging.
- Pick one feature item. If you are using a smaller space, a large vintage full body mirror or a large fashion illustration would be perfect. If you have the room you might want to think about adding a small lounge or day bed near a window so you can also use it as a sanctuary to hide away, drink tea and read. I love my room so much I will use any excuse to be in there for 5 minutes. The inclusion of my dressing table also means I have a little desk space so I also like to use the room to blog and study. I feel really inspired to write about Kate and repliKating when I am surrounded by her clothing.
- Decorate according to your tastes. This room is 100% yours so whatever your obsession is, go for it, no need to worry about upset partners/flatmates is your tastes are wildly different. Paint the walls pink, put up your pictures of Audrey Hepburn or Paris or, like me, fill it with little collectables and trinkets associated with Kate Middleton.
- Even if you can’t create a full room wardrobe like mine, you could probably use a little extra space. You could look at adding a portable rack or two, or some shoe racks to your existing bedroom where you can have a few of your favourite things out on display.
Earlier this week I posted on Instagram a really lovely gift that I had received from a follower, a copy of the official Royal wedding program from Will and Kate’s big day. Since then I have been flooded with requests for looks inside and it appears many people have missed out on seeing the ‘my story’ snaps I added to Instagram so I will be adding pictures of each page at the bottom of this post. First though, lets take a look at my other Royal wedding memorabilia.
William and Catherine Figurines, Hamilton Collection
These wonderful fashion figurines are part of the Hamilton collection which was sold via the Bradford exchange. They have a whole range of fashion figurines featuring Kate pre wedding, in gowns post wedding and with a baby George. Unfortunately no figurine has been made with charlotte. Whilst the figurines are no longer sold directly from Bradford exchange, they are constantly popping up on Ebay so keep an eye out there if you are interested in starting your own collection of Kate figurines.
Royal Wedding Fashion Illustration
I am a huge fan of fashion illustration in general and love the work of Brittany from Replikate It. Keep an eye on her Etsy store around special occasions such as Royal tours and you usually find new art work pop up for sale. I’m not sure what she has planned yet but she told me she is in the process of working on something special for the 20th anniversary of Diana this year.
Royal Wedding Earrings
My lovely copy of the custom-made acorn earrings that were gifted to Kate on her wedding day by her parents were bought on my trip to London a little over a year ago from the Kensington Palace gift shop. They are the loveliest copy of these earrings I have come across and can be bought directly from the Historic Royal Palaces shops at Kensington Palace or the Tower of London or purchased online here; http://www.historicroyalpalaces.com/acorn-drop-earrings.html
Illuminum White Gardenia Petals Perfume
The perfume that Kate wore on her wedding day has proved to be the single most difficult Replikate for me to get my hands on as it is not in stock or shipped to Australia. I was able to purchase a small bottle on Christmas eve from Fortnum and Mason department store and was extremely lucky as it was the last bottle they had in stock. I had hoped to purchase 1-2 of the large bottles. I’m not really sure what I will do when it runs out, maybe plan another holiday to London?!?!?!
Jo Malone Products
Probably the easiest way to add a touch of the Royal wedding into your own home and daily life appears to be through the use of the Jo Malone products that Kate used in Westminster abbey as they are reliably in stock and available world-wide. In an effort to have Westminster abbey resemble a British garden wedding Kate transformed the chapel through the bringing in of trees and flowers and the use of Jo Malone Orange blossom scented candles and hand washes of grapefruit and lime, basil and mandarin.
Official Royal Wedding Program
My newest Royal wedding memorabilia has been recently gifted to me by a lovely follower on Instagram. A local London lady who loves near Buckingham Palace, she wondered down on the day of the wedding and was able to score a couple of the programs. I feel incredibly privileged that she offered to send me this as I truly would not have been able to get my hands on one otherwise and truly cherish it.
I would love to do a follow-up post in April over the Royal wedding anniversary so if you have any memorabilia you would like to share or were lucky enough to be there on the day please get in touch via the contact form or send me a message over on instagram.