Operation Oonaballoona!

Waving from across the pond. Say hi, Oonaballoona!

The best evenings in the history of spontaneous fun usually turn on a single, important question: ‘How many more are we going to have?’

My boyfriend and I were sat in The American Bar at The Savoy Hotel, celebrating the birthday of a woman I’ve never met, who lives on the other side of the Atlantic.

‘One or two?’ Ian asked, peering hopefully over the top of the cocktail menu. We’d already had one cocktail. But now Ian had said the word ‘two’. He’d sewn the seed in my head that three cocktails may not be excessive. If everything went pie-eyed from here on in, it would be his fault. I mean, officially so. He’d asked the question, not me. I couldn’t be blamed for a thing…

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I should start at the beginning.

The New York sewing blogger, Oonaballoona, isn’t what you’d call a wall flower – not unless said wall flower is an hibiscus or a tiger lily. She’s out there and fabulous, and it’s little surprise that she declared her birthday month ‘the most awesome month in the history of the world’. She invited her fellow sewing bloggers to an online birthday party on Friday 5 August. The only stipulation was that we wear our favourite handmade dress.

Well, who was I to refuse?

‘Ian,’ I wheedled, ‘you know on Friday night, can we go out for cocktails? You see, there’s this sewing blogger and she’s had this really good idea and…’

Ian rolled his eyes. I knew I’d got him at the word ‘cocktails’. Operation Oonaballoona was on!

I decided that I had to wear my fabulous rose print cotton dress (after taking the hem up by four inches) but where to go, where to go…? I wanted to visit one of London’s better hotel bars. Then I remembered. Oonaballoona’s American… The American Bar at The Savoy! So it had to be. If you want to indulge in a cocktail yourself, the menu’s here.

So after an impatient day’s work I showered, changed and made my way into town to meet Ian. Obviously, glamour at all cost was high on the agenda:

I did wonder how people would react to a woman in a rose print tea dress wandering down the Strand, but I should have remembered – this is London. I could have had a teapot strapped to my head and no one would have batted an eyelid. I felt distinctly ignored:

The Savoy hoved into view. Because I am a classy chick, I sat down on a chair outside a chain restaurant and in full view of passing strangers changed my trainers for my red wedge sandals. I was set to go! I turned the corner and prepared to have fun:

I really wanted to be snapped with this doorman, but he looked a tad busy:

I wandered past the court where afternoon tea is held:

Because I was headed here:

Now, you all know I like to be photographed with strangers. So whilst Ian browsed the cocktail menu, I marched over to the bar staff and asked if they’d mind… Did they mind?! These men were natural performers! Check it out:

Don’t let these photos fool you with their brightness. The bar was entirely made up of hues of brown, discreet lamplight, pools of shadow and dark corners for secret assignations – none of which helped me feel confident walking in my wedge heels. I gratefully sank into a chair and ordered my first cocktail.

What should it be, what should it be… I wanted something to truly honour Oonaballoona’s spirit. The Hanky Panky it would be!

Fancy some Hanky Panky?

Now, I can drink a cocktail with the best of them but – hoo, boy. That one blew my head off. I decided to visit the toilets whilst I could still walk – one must always check out the toilets in these establishments:

How disappointing. Almost exactly what I have at home. NOT!!!

Another random photo:

One of my favourite parts of the evening (other than people watching the very rich) was the piano singer. With jet black hair and an ability to keep the ivories tinkling even when old dears went over to chat to him mid song, he looked as though he’d walked straight away from an evening in Vegas with the Rat Pack. He had a cotton handkerchief that he would open with a snap of his wrist, before carefully draping the handkerchief over his piano stool prior to sitting down. Marvellous! I was determined to be photographed with him:

‘Are YOU American?’ I asked earnestly, waiting to be regaled with stories of wild nights in speakeasies.

‘No,’ he said. ‘I’m half Welsh, half Irish.’


I then had a Millionare Cocktail no. 3 (so so) and a Moonwalk (superb). As I indulged in my final cocktail of the evening, the piano singer started Sinatra’s New York, New York. How appropriate for Oonaballoona! my befuddled brain thought. Perhaps I should join in

I promise I was only singing VERY quietly into  my iPhone. I swear I didn’t embarrass Ian.

Happy Birthday, Oonaballoona!

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27 Responses to Operation Oonaballoona!

  1. Kirsty says:

    Oh Karen, your dulcet tones have certainly brightened my Saturday morning at work!

    Now that I see you’re wearing your dress I can ask the question I’ve been meaning to ask – which petticoat did you get? I need one for the dress I’m toile-ing at the moment! (Pretty please. And thank you in advance)

    • Hee, hee! The underskirt is from House of Olivier. They do cotton petticoats. They’re not cheap but they are very pretty and well-made and I can imagine using the petticoat a lot as day wear under circle skirts (as opposed to tulle or net petticoats that I wouldn’t really want to wear just out and about!). I might do a review, as several people have asked.

  2. Roobeedoo says:

    I have no words. officially speechless.

  3. Debi says:

    BEYOND awesomeness!!! I love it so much!!!

  4. Lynne says:

    I second Roobeedoo!! But, oh my, The Savoy looks FABULOUS, and so does your dress! Hope you’re feeling fine this morning! 🙂

  5. Tilly says:

    You’ve got a pretty good singing voice – I’m impressed! I’m also impressed at how understanding Ian is of your random requests…

  6. oonaballoona says:


    i am grinning too hard over this post to think straight!!! i wonder, could the post-wine cocktails i had meself last night have a bit to do with it as well?

    no, i’m pretty sure it’s solely due to your fabulousness.

  7. Sarah says:

    Ooooh, what a fabulous night you had!!

    I am *loving* the new shorter length dress, gorgeous!!

    S x

  8. Portia says:

    I’m crying……literally…tears are streaming! You officially rock, and I love that Ian is so accommodating. J would have carted me off to the nearest psychiatric unit!

  9. liza jane says:

    You are so awesome.

  10. Penny Dolan says:

    Just DElicious, Karen! Almost heard the ice clinking in the glass – and so nice for nosy people like moi to be able to see inside the Savoy! (Glad you explained about taking the rose-red wedge sandals with you though. Was a tad alarmed back there.)

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Your dress is so lovely. And I loved the picture with the pianist/singer!

  12. Law says:

    Tehe, Karen you are fabulous! Lucky Oona :o)
    Not read Oona’s blog before but will now. She sounds fabulous too!

  13. Andrea says:

    I have no clue who this Oona (“wild” wallflower) is, but I just wanted to say this dress is stunning. Seriously stunning!

  14. Sensational! You are an inspiration.

  15. Felicity from Down Under says:

    About all I can come up with is wow. Kind of a defeated wow because, wow, what else could I say that hasn’t been better said already. WOW!

  16. janine says:

    Your dress most certainly held its own in such a beautiful setting .Abslutely gorgeous.That painting in the toilet looks most appropriate – looks like she is holding on ! Happy Birthday Oona

  17. Jane says:

    LOVE the new shorter length on the dress, you looked fab. And REALLY loved the bit where the Dino lookalike laid out his cotton hanky on the piano stool. I dream of such gentlemanliness (is that a word?!) xx

  18. mooncalf says:

    That is a KICKASS dress and would be at home anywhere.

    It is the kind of dress where you could walk into a party and never feel over-dressed. Everyone else would immediately be under-dressed and you would be FABULOUS!

  19. Natalie says:

    I just love the dress! great job

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  21. Dilly says:

    I’m glad you shortened the rose print dress for “everyday” wear (hahaha), it looks amazing. Although I’m another one who’s glad you changed into the red wedges! I love your little tales of fun and frolics, I wish I’d read your blog before I moved away from London, because I want to be your friend! I miss crazy people over here…

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