I finally ticked off one of my London bucket list items in visiting the Natural History Museum.
After first getting lost – yes, we got lost… My friend from uni and I were crowded into a packed first exhibit: Mammals.
In an attempt to escape the crowds, we went upstairs to the Whales and Dolphins section. It was incredible to see the life-sized skeletons and not-quite life-size blue whale model. However, upon returning to the ground floor and trying to find a café through the throngs of people, we decided to find somewhere quieter.
And we found it, in the Images of Nature exhibit. We whirred away the early afternoon hours taking in images of dodos and SEMs of insects. It allowed for the majority of the visitors to filter through whilst we caught up on life.
Image of Nature exhibit
Image of Nature exhibit
Making a break for it, we made our way to the Dinosaur exhibit. Still rather crowded, we were rushed through reading about the various fossils and skeletons on display. Nevertheless, it was still pretty awesome to see all of the display and an animated T-rex, which was a little less scary than we had hoped!
Finally, we made our way through to the main attraction – the 25.2 metre blue whale skeleton. Positioned majestically above the Hintze Hall, it certainly was a centrepiece.
The hall itself is also incredible with its elaborate design created especially to represent all the wonders of the natural world. The ceiling is covered in delicate paintings of flora with carvings throughout the walls and pillars.
After admiring the architecture as much as the blue whale, we climbed up the grand staircase to the first floor. Here we entered the minerals exhibition. I am fascinated by minerals and crystals so we may have spent far too much time picking out our favourites from the many, many cabinets. It was also fairly empty by now – thankfully!
Realising the day was slipping by, we made a last visit to the Vault, where the most precious minerals are kept.
Thoroughly exhausted, we decided to home. We hadn’t even scratched the surface.
Any recommendation of when is best – and less busy – to visit the museum would be much appreciated! I will be going back.
After having lived in the Borough of Richmond upon Thames for the last seven months, I thought I would share my top 5 walks around the area.
River Crane Walk
This was the first walk I did when I moved to Twickenham in November last year. It was fairly late in the afternoon with the winter nights drawing in fast, but it was beautiful to see the orange sun shining through the trees and listen to the bird’s evening chorus.
The walk is pretty easy and can be accessed from the Staines Road in Twickenham via Meadway. We turned left onto the footpath which follows the river along to Hounslow. There are plenty of benches with intricate carvings along the way as the path meanders along the riverside and it is perfect for an evening stroll. Read more here.
Teddington to Kingston
The walk between Teddington and Kingston (via Teddington Lock) is a must for the summer. With sweeping views of the River Thames and the shade of trees, there are plenty of places to sit and relax or enjoy a picnic by the river. The walk itself is flat and paved for the most part and, at only 1.5 miles, it is an easy walk for all the family. Follow the signs to Teddington Lock from Teddington high street and turn right after crossing the bridge to reach the path. I decided to turn back upon entering the outskirts of Kingston, but you can continue into the town centre for plenty of cafes and shops. Read more here.
Whilst living in Teddington, I was amazed to find that I could walk for 10 minutes down Park Road and suddenly be in open countryside. The road takes you to the gates on Chestnut Avenue from which you can explore the entire park along various paths. Following the road, you will eventually find yourself at Hampton Court Palace (somewhere I still need to explore). However, I tend to take the right fork through the trees that takes you either round to open parkland if you turn right onto Cobblers Walk, where I have watched beautiful sunsets, or towards The Pheasantry café and woodland gardens if you continue straight. Whichever way you choose to go, the park is teaming with wildlife, including the many deer that call it home.
Twickenham to Richmond
Despite exploring this route in the depths of winter (gloves and scarves at the ready), it still amazed me how beautiful Richmond looks as you approach along the Thames walk. It was mid-afternoon as we neared the town, its red brick blazing in the late winter sun. The path itself is encased in trees and a little rough in areas but otherwise very walkable. We walked from Staines Road, Twickenham to the opposite bank towards Ham House, but turned back here as it was rather muddy and we were losing the light. The view along the Thames is incredible and well worth the 3 mile walk from Twickenham and is easily accessible from Twickenham riverside off Church Street. Both Twickenham and Richmond have pubs and restaurants in abundance, so there are also plenty of options to refuel along the way. Read more here.
Teddington Lock to Ham House
Teddington Lock tops my list mainly because of my experience getting lost and wandering forever along the banks of the Thames in beautiful sunshine. The walk takes you through an overhanging of trees and is the least busy of all the walks listed, allowing for you to completely immerse yourself in your surroundings. Again following the signs to Teddington Lock from the high street, turn left upon crossing the bridge taking the path along the Thames to Ham House. The path is easily traversed with a couple of benches for pit stops and emerges from the trees to wonderful views across to Richmond – once again shining orange in the sun. You can continue along this path to Ham House and on to Richmond joining the Thames path to Twickenham, which can make a nice circular walk I intend on attempting soon. Read more here.
Do you know of any other walks in this area? Let me know in the comments!
A gorgeous 16C caught me by surprise when I went for a walk yesterday. The sky was grey and I’d worn my thickest jacket thinking it would be cold – but it was glorious!
I’ve lived in Teddington for three months now so felt it was high time I explored the lock, which is only a mile from my house. Perfect for a short wander to clear my head. Or so I thought.
I have a wonderful, if not slightly reckless, habit of finding myself in places where I can lose myself completely, which naturally leads to never quite wanting to leave again. This was one of those occasions.
Upon reaching the lock, which is a quick wander down from Teddington high street, I found that hundreds of other people had had much the same idea. The nearby pubs and tearooms were teaming in the bright sunshine that had luckily broken through the clouds. People were out in force on the water, on boat tours or yachts, a family came past in bright orange kayaks and there were a number of barges and rowing boats spotted along the way.
There are two bridges across the lock and, to avoid a group of cyclists, I decided to explore the base of the first bridge. All I found was an overgrown footpath and a dead end, but the smell transported me back to Yorkshire and wandering through the countryside. I found myself encased in wildflowers, their scent filling my nostrils and taking me a million miles away. Yet, a gate prevented any further exploration and I had to return to the bridge.
After crossing, I was faced with a decision: 3 miles to Richmond Park straight ahead, 3.5 miles to Ham House and Gardens to the left, or 1.75 miles to Kingston Bridge to the right. At this point, I was still convinced this was just a short wander along the river, so chose the Kingston path.
The walk towards Kingston
The path divides in two with one strand following closely to the banks of the Thames, the other is a sturdier path further up the bank. I chose the higher path, which took me through woodland before emerging into the open sunlight with views of the river.
Taking pictures as I went, I meandered along the path listening to the sound of the river mixed with children’s laughter and the chitter-chatter of their parents. Until I reached a line of houses where the path turned into a tarmac road. Not really wanting to wander through Kingston, I decided to head back but, this time, I took the lower path.
Now my view was less obstructed, I could photograph the expanse of the River Thames with the sun now on my face. Having only traveled a mile or so, it wasn’t long before I was back at the signpost. To go home, or not to go home?
Not to go home.
I decided to continue along the path towards Ham House and Gardens, not expecting to reach the stately home but knowing the walk would be pretty. After following the edge of the lock, I was soon immersed in woodland. I heard the sweet calls of blackbirds and robins flitting through the trees. I love being among the trees, it’s a place where I feel safe and at home. The fresh smell of new leaves and various wildflowers intermingled with the earth as I wandered.
The path is fairly similar the whole way along with the Thames to your left and woodland on the right, which made it easy to lose track of how far I had walked. It wasn’t until I saw the outcrop of Eel Pie Island that I realised I had almost walked as far as Ham House! So much for a short walk…
I sat on a bench for a little while, admiring the beauty of Eel Pie Island and growing envious of the houses there. As I looked, however, I suddenly noticed two little eyes watching me and a couple of pointy orange ears. A fox. Realising I was not a threat – I could not easily traverse the water between us – he settled down to sun himself. I admired him for a while before continuing my walk.
By now it was getting late and I had set myself a target of turning back once it had reached 5pm. It was 4.54pm. I carried on forward a short way until the woodland opened up to reveal a car park and what I can only assume is the ferry point between Twickenham and Ham House. I could see The White Swan on the opposite bank and Richmond looming in the distance. I sat for a while taking in the view.
The journey back was harder. My feet suddenly felt the 19,884 steps (according to my Samsung Health app) I’d taken and my lack of preparation meant I was in dire need of a drink. Barely pausing, I power-marched back to the lock, reliving all the beauty of my walk there and being startled by squirrels who interrupted my path.
After walking roughly ten miles, I collapsed on my bed, tired but feeling wonderfully fulfilled.
Something which has been on my bucket list for a while now is Kew Botanical Gardens. So, as a nice surprise birthday treat for my mum, we decided to go.
It was a horrible, drizzly day and we arrived far too late to fully explore – due to the closure of the District Line… – but it still enthralled us in its culture and history. In the winter months, admission is reduced to £10.80 for an adult ticket because some areas are closed. However, we timed it perfectly with their Orchid Festival, which definitely made up for not seeing everything.
We began in the Palm House, where we saw plants from all over the world – from the Americas to Australasia. But I was most taken by the architecture. Beautiful, ornate metal work with twisting staircases, it was like something out of a Victorian fairy tale. But of course, that is exactly what it was, with experts considering Kew’s Palm house to be the most important surviving Victorian iron and glass structure in the world.
It was designed by Decimus Burton and engineered by Richard Turner in the same style as the shipbuilding industry. This is why it can look like an upturned hull from a distance. The result is a vast, light, lofty space that accommodates the height of large palm trees and allowed for the introduction of such species to Europe in the early Victorian era.
We then dodged the rain into the Princess of Wales Conservatory, where the Orchid festival was taking place. We had been informed at the front desk that some areas were off-limits due to the festival, so believed we wouldn’t be able to see any of it. This was not the case. Other than the parts being worked on, we were able to wander freely through the orchids and see all of the wonderful displays.
The festival celebrates how plants are used in India and Indian culture in worship, medicine, and everyday life. Inspired by the vibrant colours and magnificent plant life of India, the festival featured huge floral displays of exotic orchids, decorated rickshaws and animals made out of flowers. It was really beautiful and the colours truly reflected the culture and traditions of India
The conservatory is a myriad of different climates and you can wander from desert to rainforest – and easily become lost too! We spent a long time discovering all of the different plants and photographing the orchids, before heading towards a new feature at Kew: the Hive.
The Hive was designed by UK artist Wolfgang Buttress, originally as the centrepiece of the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo, and reflects the life of a bee hive. Inspired by scientific research into the health of bees, the installation uses multisensory elements to give an insight into the real live workings of a hive. The structure is made from thousands of pieces of aluminium and is fitted with hundreds of LED bulbs that glow and fade to the real-life rhythms of the bee hives in Kew.
There was such an atmosphere created within the structure and it was incredible to get a small insight into the world of bees.
After a short walk through the walled and alpine gardens, we came across a gallery where we found intricate drawings of orchids. It was fascinating to see these anatomical drawings from as far back as the eighteenth century and read a little bit about current beliefs at the time.
It was a lovely trip despite the rain, and we agreed we must go back when the sun is shining to spend a whole day exploring top to bottom.
So the last month has been a little hectic, moving house will never be an easy, smooth-running task. But I did – miraculously – still manage to get out and about during January.
My first excursion was to walk along the River Thames from Twickenham to Richmond. Every time I had been down to the Riverside in Twickenham, I had seen the path, but hadn’t the time to explore. However, with a visit from my cousin as motivation, I finally walked it – and it was definitely worth the aching feet that evening.
First stopping at the Barmy Arms for some lunch, we warmed our hands before stepping out into the freezing mid-January wind. The walk was easy, with lots of beautiful scenery to see. Families were in abundance, especially around popular Marble Hill House (another one for the bucket list). Yet, I had never felt more relaxed.
We saw waders and mallards minding their own business in the shallows. Squirrels were calling to each other in the trees and we stopped for a while musing on the species of birds around Richmond Bridge.
Upon crossing the bridge, we decided to see where the path on the opposite side of the bank went. However, after wandering for half an hour, we soon came across the mud. With the light fading, we decided it was time to head back – but not before a failed attempt at finding a seat in the White Cross. Next time…
The walk back blessed us with an amazing orange sunset over the water, which I attempted to capture – badly!
This is definitely a walk to do many times, at all times throughout the year, and we will be coming back to tackle the opposite bank – wherever it goes…
Three weeks ago, I up sticks and moved to Twickenham. I’d been staying with relatives in North-West London previously, but with the procurement of a new job the opposite side of the city, Twickenham seemed the obvious choice.
It’s quite a luxury to live under ten minutes away from where you work, especially when your walk there takes you past Twickenham Green.
I keep snapping pics most days as, somehow, it seems to be different every day. Plus, there have been some pretty gorgeous sunsets recently.
I have spent most weekends exploring the area with my first point of call the River Crane Walk. The walk itself is very popular with lots of people out on a Sunday afternoon. But then, I guess it is the perfect Sunday afternoon stroll.
Mainly flat and surrounded by trees, it’s quaint and simple with some gorgeously carved benches along the way.
The map shows that there is a nature reserve along the route, yet as dusk drew in, I didn’t quite get that far – a trip for earlier in the day perhaps. Still, it was lovely to be surrounded by so much greenery so close to my house.
A couple of weeks later, I decided to do a little Christmas shopping so wandered through the town. A colleague at work had taken me to the Riverside off Church Street one afternoon, and as I wandered I suddenly found myself looking over the River Thames again.
The colours this time of year really add to the scene and I realised that there are walks along the river all the way to Richmond and beyond – which I will have to explore sometime soon!
I had noticed a bridge when I had first visited the Riverside, so decided to cross it. I found myself on Eel Pie Island.
It’s beautiful and felt like a different world to the centre of town. There are some absolutely gorgeous houses with the Twickenham Rowing Club off to one side – a lovely walk even if I did have the distinct feeling I may have been trespassing. It was a whole community by itself, separated in the middle of the Thames, almost completely cut off from everything.
I know there’s still so much more to see around the area, but I guess this is a start! I’ll keep you posted as I find more corners of the world.
For a while now, I’ve been sharing my adventures on Instagram: www.instagram.com/LostEnglishRose/ However, writing is my main love and I felt I’d branch out to tell you all about my travels!
I’m an English girl, currently based near London, who enjoys exploring the world around me. With a love of coastline to mountain top, I’ll be sharing some great walks and places to visit with maybe the occasional poem or two along the way!
Why not join me as I wander around the English countryside and take the few odd trips around the world?