Hannah Drake

Hampton Court Palace

TravelHannah DrakeComment

Way back in May, my mom came to visit for about a week. I’m fully convinced that she’s devoted to seeing everything England has to offer in her lifetime and we certainly hit the ground running on this visit as well. We spent her first day in London, but the second day we took the train down to see Hampton Court Palace.

Hampton Court Palace is part of the Historic Royal Palaces, which includes six iconic structures: Kensington Palace, the Tower of London, Banqueting House, Kew Palace, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, and of course Hampton Court Palace itself.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF HAMPTON COURT PALACE

It was originally built for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey under King Henry VIII with building beginning in 1515. A short 14 years later, Wolsey fell from favour with the King, so he gave the palace to Henry, who later expanded it.In the 17th century, King William III set about expanding and renovating the palace to rival the Palace of Versailles in France, causing much of the original Tudor palace to be lost. However, his work stopped in 1694 before it was complete, which left two distinct and contrasting styles: Tudor and Baroque. In the 18th century, King George II was the final monarch to reside in the palace.

SOME FUN FACTS ABOUT HAMPTON COURT PALACE

  • The renovations that Henry ordered on the palace when he first came into possession of it cost him £18 million at the time!

  • The King’s Beasts are ten statues one the bridge leading to the gatehouse and represent the ancestry of Henry himself and his third wife, Jane Seymour.

  • The clock on the gatehouse facing the inner court was installed in 1540 and contains three dials that tell the hour, the day of the month, and the position of the sun relative to the earth.

  • Henry VIII married his final wife, Catherine Parr, at Hampton Court Palace in 1543.

  • It’s one of two palaces left in England owned by Henry VIII, the other being St. James’ Palace in London.

  • William Shakespeare staged several of their places at Hampton Court Palace for King James I.

  • Queen Victoria opened it to the public in 1838.

  • In the late 1800’s, the American Vanderbilts modelled their Florham estate in Madison, New Jersey after the Baroque style of the palace.

  • The palace has served as a filming location for Hollywood since the 60’s with films including A Man for All Seasons, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Holmes & Watson, Cinderella, and most recently (and perhaps most recognisably), The Favourite.

  • The gardens have the UK’s oldest surviving hedge maze, designed in 1700.

HAMPTON COURT PALACE TODAY

Today, Hampton Court Palace is a popular tourist destination as it’s quite literally a snapshot in time for two significant periods of British history. Your ticket of admission will include an audio tour, which will take you through the palace, dressed to represent the different periods in its history and you will, without a doubt, feel like you’ve taken a step back in time.

The palace also hosts festivals, concerts, and an annual flower show. There are regularly scheduled special exhibits, including a recent exhibit of costumes from The Favourite that I believe we only missed by a few weeks.

Self Care Is... Practising Worry Time

Self CareHannah DrakeComment

In the last year or so, I’ve been trying to focus on self care and what it looks like in my life. I’ve decided to start a new (semi) regular blog series called Self Care Is, but I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to look like yet. Self care means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, many of whom know a whole hell of a lot more about it than I do. But I view it as a journey and since I’m inclined to share my life in this space, I figured I’d invite you along in the journey as well.

Last fall, I was having a really tough time with anxiety. I wasn’t taking care of myself mentally. I was indulging in my stressors (like reading the news). I was constantly worried about things that probably wouldn’t happen (like Luke being in an accident or dying at work) and things I couldn’t control (like American politics). Luke, being the supportive husband he is, did some research and got me into a programme for free CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I started in November and carried on through the new year. Accounting for the holidays and our travel, it was only five or six sessions, but none of them were as transformative as the first.

The therapist recommended that I start practising “Worry Time”. I don’t do it exactly how he explained, but I have continued with the practice for over nine months now. When I find myself worrying about something, I write down the worry and then I write down the “truth”. Maybe the truth is that something is worth worrying about, but it also gives me the space to step back and look at something objectively and think about it more logically and less emotionally.

For example, if my worry is that Luke will be injured at work (which I actually don’t “worry” about as much any more these days compared to the almost daily basis before), the truth is that Luke is highly trained in health and safety and the nature of his job requires him to be responsible for his own safety as well as the people working under him. Luke is responsible and cautious and it’s simply highly unlikely he would put himself in danger of being hurt or killed.

With other things that maybe are worth worrying about, like perhaps the 2018 mid-term elections, it’s more about putting it into perspective. I cannot control the outcome of the election. I can only do my part in voting or encouraging others to vote and helping to spread factual information before people go to the polls.

I have a reminder set on my phone every day to sit down and do worry time. This was part of the explanation given by the therapist, but it was more so that I would have a set amount of time to worry about the things I’m worried about. However, I’ve found that when it’s more like a task to do throughout the day, I don’t need to spend time worrying about something, I just need to present a logical argument against the worry. I’ve noticed a dramatic drop in the irrational things I worry about and the amount of time I spend swimming in my anxiety every day.

I’m not cured by any means. My anxiety has not gone away. But now I feel like I have a better handle on it. The last few months have actually been quite low in anxiety for me, but I’ve continued to practice worry time because it’s a habit I want to build into my life so that when shit hits the fan down the road and I’m more anxious overall, I already have some sort of guardrail built in to hopefully protect myself from falling into a darker place than I can control.

I also don’t do it every day. Some days it would just be too forced. But anywhere from two to four days a week, I do sit down and consider if something is weighing on me and what the truth of it is.

What does self care look like to you? Let me know in the comments and remember there is no right or wrong answer!

Two Tropical Cocktails

EntertainingHannah DrakeComment

I’m doubling up this month with TWO tropical cocktails. It’s funny, we’ve been talking more about doing all-inclusive tropical holidays in recent months and that’s totally what these types of cocktails remind me of. But the weather has turned a bit lately and it’s already starting to cool off while the rain picks up. Granted, it has still been in the (low) 70’s, but this week I don’t think has broken out of the 60’s yet. Needless to say, these drinks would have been better suited for that one day last month when it was nearly 100. Still, I had to make good use of these cups that are actually vases from the dollar spot at Target.

And no, even though it might look like this post is sponsored by Malibu Rum, I assure you it is not. I’m not that big time. I just chose to use it for both recipes.

PIÑA COLADA

  • 2 oz coconut rum

  • 4 1/2 oz pineapple juice

  • 2 oz coconut cream or coconut milk

  • ice

  • pineapple wedge, to garnish

DIRECTIONS

In a blender, mix coconut rum, pineapple juice, coconut cream, and ice until blended and smooth. Poor into a tiki mug or poco grande. Garnish with fresh pineapple wedges (and a paper umbrella, if you so choose).

MAI TAI

  • 1 1/2 oz coconut rum or white rum

  • 1 oz dark rum

  • 1/2 oz Cointreau

  • 1 1/2 oz pineapple juice

  • 1 1/2 oz orange juice

  • 1/2 oz lime juice

  • 1/4 oz grenadine

  • pineapple wedge and maraschino cherries, to garnish

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 20-30 seconds until well mixed and chilled. Strain into a tiki mug or highball glass. Garnish with fresh pineapple wedges and maraschino cherries (and a paper umbrella, if you so choose).

A BRIEF HISTORY OF PIÑA COLADAS

The name piña colada quite literally means "strained pineapple”, a reference to the pineapple juice used in the cocktail. The earliest known story of the drink dates back to the 19th century and a Puerto Rican pirate, Roberto Cofresí, though the recipe was lost after his death in 1825. 125 years later in 1950, the New York Times mentioned “Cuba's piña colada”. The Caribe Hilton Hotel in Puerto Rico claims the drink was created there in 1954 by a bartender and 50 years later, the hotel was presented with a proclamation by the Governor celebrating its anniversary. Elsewhere in Puerto Rico, a restaurant called Barrachina claims a Spanish bartender invented it in 1963. Any way you slice it, Puerto Rico gets the credit and the island named the piña colada its official drink in 1978. And I bet you can’t think about piña coladas without singing the song to yourself. (If you weren’t before, you are now!)

A BRIEF HISTORY OF MAI TAIS

Like many cocktails, the origin of the Mai Tai is a little unclear. It’s most commonly credited to Victor J. Bergeron, who claimed to have invented it in 1944 at Trader Vic’s in Oakland, California. However, Donn Beach, “the founder of tiki culture” who is credited with opening the first tiki bar during the 1930’s in Hollywood, says Bergeron’s Mai Tai was based on his own Q.B. Cooler cocktail from 1933. The name was allegedly taken from maita'i, the Tahitian word for "good" or "excellence". It is traditionally garnished with mint leaves and a lime wedge.

HOW TO SERVE THESE COCKTAILS

If you want to fully embrace Donn Beach’s tiki culture, by all means, pick up some tiki mugs or turn tiki vases into mugs. (My guess is the inside of the mugs would have fewer crevasses than the vases and therefore be easier to wash. However, you can go the more traditional route.

Piña Coladas are traditionally served in a poco grande, or what I’ve always heard referred to as a daiquiri glass. The big bowl bottom is perfect for frozen drinks and the small, flared opening is perfect for a tropical fruit garnish.

Mai Tais are traditionally served in a highball glass. With so many ingredients, the volume of the liquid starts to add up, so you’ll want a 12 to 16 ounce glass. Of course in a glass, unlike a tiki mug, you’ll be able to see the colours in the cocktail as well.

When my sister and I were younger, every year around Christmastime my mom would take us to Denver to see a show and we would go out to this Chinese restaurant near the theatre beforehand. She would let us order virgin cocktails and I think we almost always got daiquiris or Piña Coladas.

VIRGIN PIÑA COLADA

  • 2 oz coconut water

  • 4 1/2 oz pineapple juice

  • 2 oz coconut cream or coconut milk

  • ice

  • pineapple wedge, to garnish

DIRECTIONS

In a blender, mix coconut water, pineapple juice, coconut cream, and ice until blended and smooth. Poor into a tiki mug or poco grande. Garnish with fresh pineapple wedges (and a paper umbrella, if you so choose).

VIRGIN MAI TAI

  • 1 1/2 oz water

  • 2 oz pineapple juice

  • 2 oz orange juice

  • 1/2 oz lime juice

  • 1/4 oz grenadine

  • pineapple wedge and maraschino cherries, to garnish

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 20-30 seconds until well mixed and chilled. Strain into a tiki mug or highball glass. Garnish with fresh pineapple wedges and maraschino cherries (and a paper umbrella, if you so choose).

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