I started the day at Kensington Gardens, which is conveniently located near Paddington - the station I usually arrive at when coming into the city. The park is so peaceful, walking through it is a wonderful way to begin a day out and it's been really interesting revisiting it at different times of the year and seeing the landscape change. Unsurprisingly, it was a lot busier on a sunny morning in June than it was back in frosty January!
I gradually made my way towards the Palace side of the park, walking via the famous Peter Pan statue which was surrounded by thrilled tourists.
I'd decided to make a return visit to Kensington Palace, as the King's State Apartments had been closed when I visited in April and I wanted to see them. Luckily for me the Palace is one of the places I can get into free with my Art Pass so going back for a second visit = no problem.
(The Queen's State Apartments were closed this time round, so I think my top tip for visiting Kensington Palace would be check to see what's open before you visit!)
I'm really glad I went back because the King's State Apartments are definitely the loveliest bit of the building and there were some fun things to experience. For example: the pair of actors walking through the space in period costume gossiping about court scandals, and the "Smell Map of the Georgian Court" (a scratch and sniff map of the apartments, with a specially chosen scent for each room).
I was also nerdily delighted by the large dial above the fireplace in the Kings Gallery which connects to the Palace's weathervane, so you can see the direction the wind is blowing without having to go outside and look... like a big weather clock, I guess.
I have to admit though that my favourite bit of Kensington Palace is actually the (free-to-visit) sunken garden at the front.
The garden was looking quite different to when I last visited - not least because the covered walkways were now looking lush and leafy! I'd thought this a lovely spot before, but sitting on a bench in this peaceful, dappled shade was quite wonderful.
Definitely one of my favourite places in London to sit and eat an icecream! (The icecream was pretty tasty, too).
Once I'd finished my icecream I walked on down through the park towards Exhibition Road, via the Flower Walk which I'd not explored before. Slightly surprisingly, this had very few flowers in it but it was a lovely quiet place to stroll through...
... and full of very friendly squirrels!
I'd planned on walking straight to the Tube station, but took a slight detour as I passed a sign for the London Map Fair and thought "oooh, that sounds interesting!"
There was an amazing selection of old maps on display and (added bonus) it was really nice to be able to get a peek inside the Royal Geographical Society, where the fair was being held. Sadly I didn't have time to stop and have tea in the little tearoom as I had to head onwards...
... to catch the Tube to Leicester Square, walk up the Charing Cross Road and visit the newly opened flagship branch of Foyles to return a book that had unfortunately arrived damaged after I ordered it from their online store.
After a quick nose around the new (huge!) store (mmm... books...) ... I walked the short way to the British Museum for a late lunch.
After lunch I visited a few of my favourite galleries then headed to the entrance to see if anyone would show up for a Crafty Cuppa. I'd been so busy that I'd not really had a chance to promote it or to follow up with people to see if they were coming (I am so terrible at organising this stuff), but luckily I wasn't left to have tea on my own as the lovely Berta of Piparapip showed up to say hello! Hurrah! :)
It was so nice to meet Berta, to hear all about her blog and how she fell in love with crochet, and to have a good old natter about the ups and downs and ins and outs of blogging. Two and a bit hours zipped by pretty darn fast and I headed home feeling really enthused about blogging and really looking forward to the next Crafty Cuppa (I will of course keep you guys updated about these - see this post for the July & August dates!).