Berries & Cream

Does anyone else remember this video that went viral circa 2007?

According to my Wimbledon tour guide, each year almost 1.5 million strawberries are served with cream at the the Wimbledon Championships. I’ll get back to my visit to Wimbledon later.

This post is long overdue, but I had an amazing time during my long study-tour to London. On Sunday March 29th, my Strategic Communication core course flew into London Heathrow to begin a week of exciting visits to tourist attractions, historical sites, businesses and more. Our goal? To gain a solid understanding of London’s role as one of the most important and attractive communications hubs in the world.

Sunday: After checking into our hotel my class headed straight for the famous Fortnum & Mason for afternoon tea. When you tell traveling students that they are allowed to have bottomless finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and desserts, things are bound to get messy.  Out of fear that “bottomless” didn’t really mean bottomless we ate and drank tea until we couldn’t any more. My favorite finger sandwich was the rare roast beef with gherkin & caper dressing. PSA: clotted cream is delicious especially on scones.

After having a few hours to recover, my class headed to BBC. During our tour we were given the chance to see BBC’s large and open newsroom, where journalists were gathering and broadcasting national and international news live for the public.

BBC microphone from the 1930s
BBC microphone from the 1930s

In the evening, Ali and I met up with our friend Caroline who goes to UVA and is studying in London. We met Caroline at Gordon’s, London’s oldest wine bar.

Walking down the creaking stairs you will be able to experience a Dickensian London. Faded (by time) wooden walls covered in historical newspaper cuttings, memorabilia pops-up here and there and then through to the cellar, where only candles light the cavernous room with its rickety tables and chairs.

We enjoyed a cheese platter and some wine before heading to Dishoom, an Indian restaurant that Caroline had been dying to try all semester. Two words: Cheese. Naan. We tried vegetable samosas, black house daal, and chicken tikka and it was all delicious. It was great meeting up with Caroline. Eating dinner together reminded me of being back with friends at UVA!


Monday: Westminster walking tour and visit to Wimbledon.

I know. I know. That is indeed Chipotle. In my defense, London is expensive and Chipotle was an affordable option for lunch…plus, I love Chipotle.

I’m determined to go to the Wimbledon Championships one day. Our visit to Wimbledon was fantastic. Our tour guide was funny, energetic, and had a plethora of information to tell us about the Championships including facts about the courts, the grass, the number of strawberries and liters of cream consumed, the amount of champagne consumed, Wimbledon’s advertising and communication strategies, and more. Wimbledon literally counts and examines each blade of grass on each court to make sure that every court is 100% Perennial Ryegrass. The most fascinating aspect of the visit was learning that Wimbledon doesn’t advertise the Championships. Long-term mutually-beneficial agreements have been created between Wimbledon and official suppliers, such as Rolex or Polo Ralph Lauren, to provide goods and services to the players, spectators, media and staff, but Wimbledon doesn’t actually pay for advertising. Really wishing I hadn’t given up tennis as a 4th grader. It’s a lifelong sport right?

Tuesday: Harrods, biking through Hyde Park, Borough Market, the Tower Bridge, LONDON Advertising, The Cutting Edge Comedy Show

Ali, Abbey, and I spent the day exploring London together. We started at Harrods where I made an obligatory stop in the toy department to see Paddington Bear. After exploring Harrods’ many floors we decided we needed some exercise before venturing to the Borough Market (Ina Garten shops for food here during her visits to London). The three of us rented bikes and biked through Hyde Park. We explored the Borough Market for lunch (homemade hummus and a ciabatta roll topped with homemade apple sauce, arugula, and roasted pork marinated in rosemary, fennel, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil) and then walked along the River Thames in the afternoon to catch a glimpse of the Tower Bridge before heading to LONDON Advertising.


At LONDON Advertising, we learned about the agency’s work with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. Although LONDON Advertising is a small agency, with one brilliant idea they were able to serve a huge international client and produce work that is recognizable worldwide.


Before heading to The Cutting Edge Comedy Show our professor warned us that comedians might target us with jokes because we are Americans. The joke was on them because when they were told that we were coming from the Danish Institute for Study Abroad they thought that meant we were actually Danish. I guess they couldn’t come up with any jokes about us Danes.

Wednesday: Blenheim Palace and Oxford

On Wednesday, our class took a bus out to Blenheim Palace. Blenheim is home to the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.  After our visit we headed for Oxford where we had a walking tour of Oxford University and a chance to explore the quaint town on our own.

After returning from Oxford, a few of us decided to end our day with a trip to Brick Lane, a street in London famous for good Indian food. For dessert, we went to the Cereal Killer Cafe, an 80s and 90s inspired spot selling over 120 types of cereal from around the world. They devise mind boggling cereal and topping combinations which they’ve coined “cereal cocktails.” If you had stopped by last weekend you would have been able to get the “Easter Eggstravaganza” which was toffee crisp, golden nuggets cereal, peeps, mini chocolate eggs, kinder egg, and milk. I opted for something a little more simple during my visit, the “s’more than words” which was golden grahams, marshmallows, and chocolate milk. They even had cereal called Special Kate’s featuring Kate Middleton on the box and Wills’ Royal O’s for Prince William.

Thursday: Science Museum London, Covent Garden, Camden Market, Naked Communications, London Eye

At the Science Museum we met with the museum’s press officer. He spoke about the museum’s internal and external communication strategies and told us about an exciting moment for the museum–the “royal tweet”–when the Queen of England sent her first tweet from the Science Museum helping to launch the its new Information Age Gallery.

Before heading to Camden Market for lunch, some friends and I stopped by Covent Garden, a popular shopping and eating district. Camden Market had a really cool vibe. We could have wandered around the various jewelry, clothing, and food stands for hours.

After lunch we headed to Naked Communications an innovative and creative marketing and branding agency. Our visit to Naked Communications included a detailed presentation of the agency’s creative process, current projects, and future goals. I found Naked Communications to be an exciting place for creative thinkers to work and thrive. After leaving Naked we headed for our much anticipated ride on the London Eye.

Friday: Churchill War Rooms and Edinburgh bound!

Our visit to the Churchill War Rooms was a fascinating experience. Seeing the war rooms first hand and having access to the exhibit’s plethora of information gave me a better understanding of Churchill’s strategic crisis communication. Churchill was able to successfully lead as Prime Minister during World War II by remaining in operation underground and by broadcasting information to the public.

After grabbing our luggage at the hotel, our long-study tour to London was over and Lauren and I were Scotland bound!

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