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Kate, William, and George Fly into Aberdeen for Scottish Escape

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

So, today's first post dealt with Kate and George's visit to Bucklebury Farm Park, but meanwhile...what are the Cambridges up to right now, you ask? You can't break a royal routine...well not usually. A royal baby can break royal routine, as we have seen these past 11 weeks thanks to Baby Cambridge le Deux. Not only did the future HRH force Kate to cancel a slew of public engagements, but the annual September visit to Balmoral Estate was also off the table. William made it up for a weekend shoot with his father just before the Scottish Referendum, but George and Kate remained ensconced at home.

It was just last week that the Middletons flew from Inverness back home to Gatwick, but yesterday the Cambridges flew from Heathrow to Aberdeen--many passengers entirely unaware they were sharing a plane with royalty. Aberdeen is the airport that services Balmoral, so that is a very likely destination, although it is always possible the couple have made other plans. The Cambridges usually head north in September to visit with Charles, Camilla, the Queen, and Duke of Edinburgh, but...

Prince Charles and Camilla are just beginning the first full-scale royal tour that Colombia has ever hosted, so they obviously won't be on hand for the Cambridges visit, and Great-Grandmother Elizabeth and Prince Philip have both returned to London. So... perhaps William has the run of Birkhall in his father's absence? Maybe the Cambridges are having friends up for a Scottish house party, or it is even possible the Middletons will return to keep the Cambridges company.  Kate and William could be sneaking away to the estate--the ultimate royal treat for privacy--just to spend time together as a little family after the weeks and weeks of Kate's debilitating illness. Of course, they could be going somewhere entirely different... Hard to say without more details. Whatever they are up to, if they are spending time at Balmoral, they are assured of having a wonderful time. 

We know from their engagement story that the two like to try their hand at fishing, and Balmoral affords plenty of opportunity to try their luck since the River Dee flows through the estate. They may even be planning to let George play with his own little a less boisterous location:

With a little over 50,000 acres, Balmoral is also a fantastic place for William and Kate to take long walks along well-loved forest paths and hikes up into the woods.  

Again, if you missed the post on Kate's visit to the Bucklebury Farm Park, that is here. More details may emerge on Scotland, but for the are up-to-date on Kate. ;)

Kate Takes George to Bucklebury Farm Park in June of 2014

We very rarely see any photos of Kate in Bucklebury, but one came to light today thanks in part to an article in The Telegraph that ran this morning. In the photo found on Twitter, Kate is pictured with George at Bucklebury Farm Park in Berkshire near Middleton Manor on June 27th of this year. It has also been reported that Carole was with them, which certainly would make sense. 

@elou71 Twitter

The Bucklebury Farm Park is a 74-acre property that essentially is a mix between a park and a zoo, ideal for children to get out and play and interact with animals, but in a more relaxed and natural environment than a traditional zoo. We have a very similar park/zoo close to where I grew up and I can personally attest that these venues are very special and delightful for children and adults of all ages. I always like to feed the goats... 
Bucklebury Farm Park Website 

Kate, who loves to spend time in the country herself, is clearly keen to impart that to George. The little prince is at that age when everything in the natural world fascinates him, and it is certainly a key learning stage in his development as he explores and becomes more cognizant of his surroundings. I am sure she is excited to introduce him to everything and explore it with him: 

The Telegraph's piece detailed the story of a young family heading to Bucklebury Farm Park when they got a flat tire and were forced to pull over. Their timing was unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on your perspective, I suppose) because they pulled over so close to Middleton Manor that Kate's royal protection detail was jumpy enough to surround the car---guns included.
"I went to put on the spare, but then realised I was missing the special screw-nut you need with a BMW to remove the wheel - it's meant to stop thieves.

"I was in a quandary, wondering what to do...then all of a sudden we found ourselves surrounded by policemen who were carrying guns.
The police squad tried to help the family, probably as an act of apology as much as of charity, but none of the local garages had the tool needed for a BMW. Again, fate seemed to play the family a mixed hand. They weren't able to make the farm that day, but if their brush with Kate's protection detail wasn't enough, when they did finally make it to the park the next afternoon, they saw the Princess herself, with George of the Chubby Cheeks.
By that time it was too late to go to the park. Mia was a bit disappointed because she'd been looking forward to it, so we went back the next day.

And while we were there, we saw Kate, her mum and Prince George at the farm shop, where you can buy fresh meat and other food.

When they got into their Range Rover to drive off, we took some photos - and there was no sign of the protection squad.
I know, right? I hope the reporter asked these three for their lucky numbers while he was at it. I'd play those at the lottery for sure... Among other things, this story does seem to highlight the very intense level of security that is in place around Bucklebury. Certainly, it was at fever-pitch in July of 2013 when Kate took newborn George to stay at her parents' for two weeks, but anytime the royals are in residence, the country town is under significantly heightened scrutiny. 

Animals at Bucklebury Farm Park Taken by Visitor Rich.Tee

The brush with royalty at Bucklebury Farm and the corroborating picture taken by Emma also reinforce that Kate is giving George the same experiences of normal childhood that she had. I think it should also highlight for naysayers why Kate slips away from London to spend time with her family in Bucklebury. She can shop and play with George in relative privacy and seclusion. While we often hear they are paying a visit to Bucklebury or even stories that they were out and about at this shop or that shop, it is quite unusual to see any photographic evidence at all, and undoubtedly there are many more times when they are there that we never even hear a whisper of. 

An Oak Tree in Berkshire
That is the scoop on the Bucklebury Farm Park. Currently, the Cambridges are in Scotland...see that report here.

Recalling William and Kate's Secret October Engagement in Kenya

Monday, October 27, 2014

Tuesday of last week was a busy day. The Duchess of Cambridge emerged from her time away to undertake two public engagements, and all this bustle and excitement glossed over a rather significant private anniversary in William and Kate's relationship. While the couple announced their engagement to the world on November 16th, and we will all mark that day with happy reminisces in less than a month, the couple actually became privately engaged on their trip to Kenya in October. 

William and Kate travelled in Kenya for a holiday with friends, and were guests of Ian and Jane Craig at Lewa Downs, but they escaped to a remote cabin for 24 hours to get a little time by themselves. Unknown to Kate, it would also give William a chance to finally present her with his mother's priceless sapphire ring as he asked her to be his princess. Appropriately, William chose Africa--a place he would be sure to have privacy, but also a place he as often described as second in his heart only to Britain. 

Two Rutundu Log Cabins (Larger cabin on left)

William described their time in Kenya briefly in the engagement interview: "We had a little private time away together with some friends." Deep in Africa, a continent away from London and the world media, William and Kate already had plenty of room to breath free of any outside pressure, but William had made sure the two got away even from their travel companions by booking a day and night at a rustic cabin above Lake Rutundu right at the end of the trip.  He explained: "I took her up somewhere nice in Kenya, and I proposed." The Rutundu Log Cabin he chose is located on a northern slope of Mount Kenya--the tallest mountain in the country and the second tallest mountain in Africa, and provides some pretty stunning landscapes. 

Lake Rutundu Log Cabin

One guest described the experience William and Kate would have shared in the Rutundu Cabins:
Rutundu is one of the most unique experiences one can have in a country which has a plethora of unique experiences on offer. It's no wonder Prince William chose this tiny outcropping of log cabins at 10,000+ on the northeastern slope of Mt. Kenya as the place to propose to the then Kate Middleton. Nestled just above and just below two of the finest trout lakes in the region, Rutundu offers complete solitude and spectacular views-assuming the weather cooperates. Three hours in a 4Wheel drive vehicle on a rough dirt road brings you to the staging area perched on the edge of a small gorge. A zip line with basket is there for your luggage and supplies. (Did I mention these are self-catering cabins? You bring in all your food and take out all your garbage!) Guests on the other hand must climb down into the gorge and climb up the other side to get to the two delightfully rustic log cabins. There is no electricity so make sure you arrive before dark. The staff is fantastic and will take care of everything. From building fires to cooking a delicious meal at altitude to drawing a piping hot bath to ensuring you have a cozy hot water bottle tucked into your bed at night, these guides are the best! They can also show you where the fish are biting and how to avoid the buffalo while you're getting there!
View of the lake from the veranda
Kate remarked that while she had briefly mused on a proposal, she did not truly expect it to happen on the trip: "We were out there with friends and things, so I really didn't expect it at all. I thought he might have, sort of, maybe thought about it, but no. It was a total shock when it came, and...very excited." The couple sweetly signed the cabin's guest book, giving us, and history, a small glimpse into what had proved to be a momentous weekend:

Such fun to be back! Brought more warm clothes this time! Looked after so well, thank you guys! Look forward to next time, soon I hope. William
Thank you for such a wonderful 24 hours! Sadly no fish to be found but we had great fun trying. I love the warm fires and candlelights — so romantic! Hope to be back again soon. Catherine Middleton.

The two returned to the United Kingdom and were famously photographed attending Harry Meade's wedding looking like cats that had eaten the canary. The world speculated, but we had a few weeks of waiting before the exciting news would burst upon the world on the 16th of November. 

Middletons Fly EasyJet from Scotland/Pippa Shares Her Fitness Tips in Waitrose Weekend

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Good morning and Happy Weekend! What a fabulous week! Kate's illness was a fact we just had to accept and the poor woman was going though so much none of us had a leg to stand on in the complaints department, but my goodness it was good to see her out this week, and not just once, not twice, but three times was a particular treat. We are a bit overdue for a chat about the Middletons, though. Michael, Carole, and Pippa were spotted boarding an EasyJet flight in the Scottish Highlands heading home to London.

The Middletons make it up to Scotland with fair regularity. Both Pippa and Kate graduated from Scottish universities, and James attended Edinburgh for a brief time before deciding it was more expedient to quit and start his own business. They have visited the Queen's Balmoral Estate as guests of Prince Charles while Kate was dating William, and spent the Bank Holiday Weekend there the autumn after William and Kate married. The family-sans their princess-were all pictured in late April, (right after William, Kate, and George wrapped their tour) in Perthshire Scotland for a wedding. 

The Middletons packed light for their flight. According to onlookers, they paid the extra £12 to board early and when the flight landed at Gatwick, they deplaned and quickly disappeared. One woman mused:
Inverness is a tiny airport, and there was only one plane on the runway, otherwise I might have thought they were flying in a private jet. They're rich enough, I suppose. I think they had paid to select their seats, which meant they got to board the plane first, and were all sat in a row when I finally made it on the plane. They're practically royalty, but it's nice to know that they're not too posh to fly with normal people.

Pippa has been making other news recently-no, she is not engaged...yet. While the lovely sister of the Duchess of Cambridge is still a regular contributor to Waitrose's Kitchen magazine...

Waitrose Kitchen

...she shared her fitness tips in the most recent Waitrose Weekend where she will now have a regular column. I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to know how interested the female population is to hear what Miss Pippa has to say on this subject.  As I have said before, short of hearing from Kate herself, the closest we can get to fitness tips from the source is her sister. 

Waitrose Weekend

Pippa preached what I think we had all suspected: she maintains a healthy and balanced lifestyle to achieve her enviable figure. She made oblique reference to the stories circulating about the Middleton women and extreme diets, remarking:
I've never done Dukan, attempted Atkins or exercised religiously seven days a week but I do believe in making healthy choices - keeping refined carbs such as white bread and pasta to a minimum, and sticking to sensible portion sizes.
Pippa advised working out 3-5 times a week, a half hour run or an hour long walk, and tennis to boost your mood and inject fun-filled exercise. Sounds a lot like what we know of Kate's preferences... I suspect that Pippa's weekly column in Waitrose Weekend will see numbers boosted. :)

Well, you have your marching orders for the day. Walk, run, tennis, swim...something fun that gets the blood pumping. Don't forget, Waitrose Weekend is free on iPad download if you want to enjoy Pippa's full, first column.

Duchess of Cambridge Goes Edgy In Black Temperley to Action on Addiction's Autumn Gala

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tonight, Kate followed up her double-header on Tuesday with another glitzy evening appearance, this time for Action on Addiction's Autumn Gala at L'Anima Italian restaurant in London.  Kate could have gone long or short to this event, and I felt like it was a 50/50 proposition--obviously I was rooting for long. She went short:

Action on Addiction's press release made mention of several of visits that the Duchess has made to their various services. They referred to her visit to Hope House, which was actually the first engagement Kate undertook following her hyperemesis gravidarum when pregnant with George. Much like this Tuesday, it marked her return to health and public duties following some very rough weeks.

The press release referenced her work on behalf of  M-PACT Plus. Kate kicked the initiative off, also while pregnant with George, when she visited Willows Primary School in April of 2013:

And at Blessed Sacrament School just this summer, again to promote an M-PACT Plus initiative wearing Goat: 

Lastly, they made mention of a visit that Kate undertook to Clouds House. If this event doesn't ring a bell, there was limited coverage because it was a private visit. You can read more about that visit from the Daily Mail here. Tonight, The Express reported that the program this evening held brief remarks penned by Kate:
During the time I have spent with clients and staff I have been privileged to see the phenomenal work which the charity undertakes to improve the lives of those affected by addiction. The stories of recovery are remarkable; and Action on Addiction's role in helping people achieve this is truly inspiring. Your generous support will enable Action on Addiction's vital work to continue, helping transform people's lives.
Action on Addiction's color is pink and so they rolled out, not a red carpet, but one in the same hot pink hue as their giant "A" logo. That could really throw a girl for a loop if she arrived in red to discover she was in for a clash with this bold carpet. Thankfully, royals are always apprised on possible conflicts of this nature.

Guests mingled in the very popular and hip Italian restaurant waiting for Kate to arrive. Given there was an auction at the end of the evening, I imagine they had some shopping to keep their minds off their impending brush with super stardom. 

Upon arrival, Kate chatted with guests at the restaurant while a live pianist played in the background before she listened to a speech by the Chair of Action on Addiction and watched performance by comedian Rory Bremner. 

Kate chose Temperley London's "Emblem Flare" dress, retailing at £595.00. I think this dress is a testament to the rule that sometimes a dress is rather...awful on the rack, but transformed once on a real, live person. The company describes the dress's inspiration:
This long-sleeved dress is inspired by stained glass ironwork and woven from a lightweight cotton-blend yarn. Delicate panels expose the nude slip, adding an edge to this feminine piece. The design is finished with a slashed neckline and a scoop back. Simply slips on. 

I think most of us ladies pretty quickly noticed the wardrobe malfunction. The nude liner was not a match against the super-charged camera flashes. This is a really annoying mistake, and has probably happened to most of us. Thankfully, I am sure Kate's sense of humor will easily laugh this one off.

At first it appeared that Kate had debuted another new clutch, this one black and beaded, but Annie of My Small Obsessions is suggesting that the clutch could go back to 2010 when Kate may have carried it to the wedding of Mel Nicholson and Ollie Baker.

Someone wondered in the comments if Kate may have had some of these pieces made for Malta. Undoubtedly, the Duchess had a full wardrobe that was slated for Malta and that now can be utilized other places. Because of the radical climate difference, I don't think that the coat dress from Tuesday was tagged for Malta, but can't you just imagine that blue Jenny Packham floating in the Mediterranean breeze? My sense is this dress was always meant to go with this evening, though, because it ticks every box that I think Kate was trying to cover.

Tonight, she kept her jewelry simple, and given the design of the dress, this was probably a smart move. She wore her diamond earrings gifted to her by Charles for her wedding. 

She finished her ensemble with sky-high, suede Jimmy Choo "Cosmic" pumps. 

Kate was accompanied, as she almost alway is, by Rebecca Deacon, who was wearing a very similar ensemble. You can see in the background of some shots, and from the two of them in the car together, that she is wearing a black dress with lace embellishment that mimics the spirit of Kate's dress. 

We had a really fun discussion on Twitter before Kate arrived, wondering what she might wear. My thoughts are that Kate has categories. (We have chatted about this here on the blog in the past) Certain labels fit into different categories. Examples: McQueen is her absolute go-to designer for formal and/or State events. If the event has royal gravitas, nine times out of ten, Kate will wear McQueen. Then, we have Jenny Packham. If Kate needs an evening dress, the majority of the time she will wear Jenny P. Obviously, we have seen crossover in these categories, Packham designed the polka-dot Lindo Wing dress, which is pretty historic, while McQueen has done a few stunning evening gowns for Kate. (I am discounting the wedding dresses, btw.) Once these two fashion powerhouses have staked their turf, then Kate fills in with Temperley, Beulah, and after that it's almost anyone's guess.

Kate seems to wear Temperley when she wants to add a modern edge to her usually classic style. She also chose Temperley when she wore a short dress to the black-tie SportsAid Gala last year, and the two dresses demand a comparison.  Both utilize a nude lining to enhance the detailing on the dress and Kate chose Jimmy Choo on both occasions. While she used a red McQueen clutch to give her ensemble a pop last November, perhaps this year the pink carpet deterred her... :)

My verdict on this one is: just-over-the-finish-line hit. It's edgier than SportsAid. I can't say I love the bodice. Doesn't this dress kind of look like something a female superhero would wear on her night off? Seriously, though, it has got some grit, which is fine, but I don't know if the bodice is weird or cool. Honestly, it's a little vampy to me, although I say that in the best sense. Just a taste vamp. Which, I believe, is one of the reasons Kate chose it. I think she likes to have fun with her fashion the just as any other girl. All this taken into consideration, black is aaah-mazing on Kate and I thought she looked like a million bucks. That being said, this dress might come with the little warning...Duchesses only; don't try this at home. 

Pictured in the car upon arrival, Kate looked a little tired. I imagine she is still under the weather just a bit, but like a pro, she put it aside to beam throughout her evening for the guests and for her charity. Hopefully, she takes the weekend to relax after this extremely successful week of come-back engagements.

Although she stayed for dinner, before the auction began, Her Royal Highness made her farewells and returned to Kensington Palace. While not his birthday, today is a very special day for Prince George. It is the one year anniversary of his baptism into the Church, and I am sure that Kate and William are fondly reminiscing on that momentous and joyful event just one year ago today. 

P.S. To whomever commented on the very out of place post, THANK YOU! I was playing around with new tags while I waited for Kate to show this evening and it should have simply left the post in its appropriate place... I pulled it for the moment, but pardon any oddities later as I try to make it get back in line. 

Kate Attends Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards in Custom Jenny Packham

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

This might have been the longest, nail-biting wait we have had to endure before seeing a picture of Kate's arrival anywhere other than the steps of the Lindo Wing. That's a lie. I thought as I sat at Reagan International glued to my live stream that I would die waiting to see her deplane in New Zealand. So, this comes in third place. After multiple written descriptions from reporters on the scene we finally got our first visual and it left me completely...surprised.

I kind of want to just talk about the clothes, but let's do a quick gallop around the surroundings to get our bearings before we dig in deep on the fashion analysis. Kate was attending the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards at the Natural History Museum in London. The Duchess is patron of the Natural History Museum, and as I noted on an earlier posts, pops in "often." Her previous visits have included a recycle of her popular lace Temperley:

The green Mulberry:

And, of course, Baby Georgie's 1st birthday photos:

As you also know, the Natural History Museum is an absolutely stunning building architecturally. Built between 1873-1880, it is striking in its interior detail.  Decorated for the night of the awards ceremony, with candles flickering along the vaulted ceilings, it must have been quite impressive in person.

Before the Party... @NHM_London

One guest tweeted a photo from his table, giving us a sense of the atmosphere once "lights, camera, action" had been applied.

Jetske van der Greef Twitter 

To the dress. First just the facts. Kate wore a bespoke Jenny Packham evening gown in baby blue. With 3/4 length sleeves, the dress was a wrap style that looked ordinary enough at rest...

...but in motion revealed a slit that ran to the waist exposing a shorter underskirt. Love it, or hate it, this had va. va. VOOM. 

With a dress that showcased her legs so thoroughly, Kate wore possibly her loudest evening shoes. These LK Bennett stilettos, with their prominent bows, could not be described as wall-flowers. She debuted them on her first formal evening after her marriage with another striking Jenny P, the ARK Gala dress.

She also showcased a new clutch--the second new clutch of the day--this time a McQueen that seems to have been customized.

McQueen Clutch via Splash News

Kate debuted some new bling, wearing Monica Vinader's Riva Diamond Cluster Drop Earrings (£745) and the matching Riva Diamond Cluster Bib (£2,000). While the company has now announced they will be selling the necklace on their website and it is available for pre-order, when Kate debuted the piece it was available exclusively at Harrods. So, perhaps we know where Kate got this...or maybe she received this lovely set as a gift from someone?

Monica Vinader 

This is not an ordinary Kate Middleton dress. I am thinking of times when she wore something that left me similarly "thrown for a loop" and I am not coming up with a lot of options. Maybe the silver, one-shouldered Packham... For its time, it was a little unusual.

I don't know. Don't (virtually) toss anything at me for saying this, and it isn't a necessarily negative reflection, but the underskirt and the shoes with the straps make me think '90s. I know that usually isn't good, but in my mind the '90s vibe is mixed with Princess Diana--more specifically this stunning Jacques Azagury. This is one of my favorite cocktail dresses on Diana... 

I was just thinking about Kate and slits this morning. She seems to really like the trend, probably because a slit "ups" the ante on the sexy factor, but in a subtle way. (yes, those two can go together!) Unless, you are Angelina Jolie and you pose with an outstretched limb, which is pretty straight-forward, but in other instances, it is relatively subtle. 

Tonight might have been a little less subtle, but no less stunning. I would say that in terms of evening apparel, this is the most unusual that Kate has worn to date. In the end, though, it actually isn't all that out of character for Kate. At first blush, the dress is extremely minimalistic and very reminiscent of the white Roland Mouret, especially noticeable from the back. The jersey like texture of the fabric and the folds around the waist where the wrap meets is also reminiscent of her earlier preference for Issa wraps. It's a lot like Kate: demure on the outside and super sexy on the inside.

If I could change one thing about her appearance this evening it would be to sweep her hair up. It fell into her face a little too much, despite its bouncy perfection, and up it would have really made this quite an eye-popping look. I am going to kind of amuse myself and call it a hit. It is not my favorite. I will not be pining for a recycle, nor will it hit the SuperStarLook category, but it was bold and fresh and it knocked the socks off of people, which is exactly what a princess who has been sick for over a month should do. I liked it because it surprised me and because she looked so darn good in it.