Another one for the Bucket List – V&A Museum

Life has been a little hectic recently, but you’ll be glad to know that means lots of posts for you! A couple of weeks ago now, we did a mad tour of Northern England and Scotland, so keep your eyes peeled for those blogs. But for now, I will take us back to the beginning of October, when Chris and I explored the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Another one ticked off the bucket list (almost). Entering from the Tunnel Entrance, we found ourselves in the Europe 1600-1815 exhibit. If you’re a fan of the ornate and beautiful, then I would definitely recommend.

17th century dress
17th century dress

We were treated to seventeenth century silver and traditional clothing. I was blown away by the ornate carvings on the below harp and even got to take part in a traditional dance – much to the delight of bemused spectators.

17th Century harp
17th Century harp

The interiors took me back to the Palace of Versailles and its exquisite painted ceilings and gold trimmings. Of course, they are of the same era.

Ornate ceilings in 17th Century French style
Ornate ceilings in 17th Century French style

Taking a short excursion from the museum to find somewhere to eat – which I would highly recommend – we ticked off another bucket list item. Harrods.

Harrods exterior
Harrods exterior

Neither of us had ever visited the famous department store, so it was a little adventure into the unknown. Teaming with people, it has definitely become more of a tourist attraction than a place to buy your bedding from. But, of course, we were adding to that trend. We took some photos with the famous Harrods bears and enjoyed a little early Christmas shopping.

Speaking of which, as we are all already counting down to Christmas, I wanted to draw your attention to a fantastic site I’ve found for purchasing gifts!  Uncommon Goods are working to change the way business is done by making sustainability a part of every decision they make. This doesn’t just mean being “green”. They focus on creating a positive workplace for their employees; only sell hand-made, recycled or organic products; as well as being environmentally conscious in their business practises, such as sourcing paper from FSC certified forests. There is also an option to donate to charity at the checkout. Pretty awesome right?

With everything from ornaments to jewellery, homeware to toys, there is something for everyone. I love some of their Christmas Gift Ideas, Personalised Gifts and Stocking Fillers! Make sure you check them out.

Anyway, overwhelmed by the strong scent of perfume at Harrods, we returned to the V&A. As the museum is so large, we decided to stick to the European displays. A quick visit to Rome, we admired one of the first works of Gianlorenzo Bernini. In Baroque style, the sculpture dramatizes a scene between Neptune, the classical god of the sea, and his son Triton. Fitting since this sculpture was positioned within a fountain.

Neptune and Triton
Neptune and Triton

We moved through the exhibit, taking in the baroque style through to the history of the Thirty Year War and the firearms and armour that were used. I was amazed by the intricate carvings on the rifles. Everything in this era seemed to be over-the-top yet astonishingly delicate.

Engraved rifles
Engraved rifles
Decorated nautilus shell
Decorated nautilus shell

The final area of this section highlighted the interest of 17th and 18th century Europeans in the Asian and “Exotic”. Ming dynasty-styled vases and ornate cabinets, these objects were a sign of wealth and beauty.

Flower Pyramid
Flower Pyramid

Time to head back further in time. Crossing to the opposite side of the hall, we came to the Medieval and Renaissance 300-1500 exhibits.

The first room presented us with beautiful carvings and engravings from thousands of years ago. Stone and ivory were the main building materials. Naturally, religion was a huge part of the buildings and ornaments we uncovered here. From beautiful archways to the first whale-bone ornament, the religious motifs were present.

Medieval Oliphant (Ivory horn) derived from Islamic art
Medieval Oliphant (Ivory horn) derived from Islamic art

In this period, churches and monasteries were increasingly built or rebuilt in stone. Both inside and out, they bore images that were either didactic, with moralising scenes from biblical stories, or decorative.

Column from a raised pulpit with carvings of religious figures
Column from a raised pulpit with carvings of religious figures

In later years, the gothic style would take over. These stained glass windows are from various monasteries in France and depict many of the scenes of the bible, from the Virgin Mary and her mother Anne to St Peter, the Old Testament to King Louis IX.

Stained glass windows with religious effigies
Stained glass windows with religious effigies

At the end of this section, we came to a majestic tapestry. The Boar and Bear hunt is an incredible piece of work depicting the hunting practises of the 15th century. Hunting was popular amongst the aristocracy of the period. Bears and otters were hunted primarily for sport, whilst deer and boars were also prized for their meat. We were fascinated by what we learned when taking it all in.

Boar and Bear Hunt Tapestry
Boar and Bear Hunt Tapestry

We headed home exhausted after only covering a small section of the V&A’s collection. It is definitely a place that requires multiple visits.

Enjoy this post? Tick off more of my London Bucket List with me here.

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Slowly ticking off the bucket list – Natural History Museum

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.

 

 

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.

Blue Wale Skeleton
Blue Wale Skeleton

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.

Hintze Hall
Hintze Hall

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!

Minerals display
Minerals display

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.

Top 5 walks around Richmond upon Thames

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.

  1. River Crane Walk
River Crane Walk
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.

Bench along the River Crane Walk
Bench along the River Crane Walk
  1. 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.

The walk towards Kingston
  1. Bushy Park
Bushy Park
Bushy Park

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.

  1. 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.

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View from Richmond Bridge
  1. 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.

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Looking toward Richmond along the walk to Ham House

Do you know of any other walks in this area? Let me know in the comments!

A 10 mile “wander” around Teddington Lock

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.

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Teddington Lock

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.

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Teddington Lock

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.

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Half-way point

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 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.

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Half mile tree, just before Kingston

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?

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View back towards the lock

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.

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The path to Ham House and Gardens

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…

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Ham land

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.

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Eel Pie Island

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.

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View towards Richmond

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.

 

Kew Gardens – Centre for Botanical Knowledge

Image of Kew Gardens - Centre for Botanical Knowledge
Palm House

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.

Image of Kew Gardens - Centre for Botanical Knowledge
Palm House

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.

Image of Kew Gardens - Centre for Botanical Knowledge
Ornate Victorian Staircase in the Palm House

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.

Image of Kew Gardens - Centre for Botanical Knowledge
Beautiful architecture in the Palm House

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.

Image of Kew Gardens - Centre for Botanical Knowledge
Orchid Peacock

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

Image of Kew Gardens - Centre for Botanical Knowledge Image of Kew Gardens - Centre for Botanical Knowledge.Image of Kew Gardens - Centre for Botanical Knowledge

Image of Kew Gardens - Centre for Botanical Knowledge
Image of Kew Gardens - Centre for Botanical Knowledge

Image of Kew Gardens - Centre for Botanical Knowledge
Orchid Rickshaw

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.

Image of Kew Gardens - Centre for Botanical Knowledge
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.

Image of Kew Gardens - Centre for Botanical Knowledge
Alpine Rockery

Thames Walks – Twickenham to Richmond

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.

Image of Thames Walks - Twickenham to Richmond
Thames Walks – Twickenham to Richmond

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.

Image of Marble Hill House from Thames Walk - Twickenham to Richmond
Marble Hill House

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.

Image of Richmond Bridge from Thames Walks - Twickenham to Richmond
Richmond Bridge

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…

Image of Thames Walks - Twickenham to Richmond
Heron perched at Richmond

The walk back blessed us with an amazing orange sunset over the water, which I attempted to capture – badly!

Image of Thames Walks - Twickenham to Richmond
Sunset on return

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…

Image of Thames Walks - Twickenham to Richmond
Sunset across River Thames

My London Bucket List

So I know this post may not be the most interesting, but I wanted to share my London Bucket List – and potentially hear your suggestions of some other (less well-known) places I must visit!

  • Big Ben
  • Borough Market – done!
  • British Museum
  • Buckingham Palace – still need to go inside!
  • Camden Market
  • Eton
  • Globe Theatre
  • Hampton Court Palace
  • Harrods
  • Houses of Parliament
  • Hungerford Bridge and Golden Jubilee Bridges
  • Hyde Park
  • Kensington Palace
  • Kew Gardens
  • London Bridge – done!
  • London Dungeon
  • London Eye – done!
  • London Transport Museum
  • London Wetlands Centre
  • London Zoo
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Marble Hill
  • Museum of London
  • National Gallery – done!
  • National Maritime Museum
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Natural History Museum
  • Oxford street at Christmas – Selfridges and John Lewis windows – (post coming soon)
  • Palace of Westminster
  • Piccadilly Circus
  • Queen’s Gallery
  • Regent’s Park
  • Richmond Park
  • Royal Observatory
  • Royal Opera House
  • Science Museum
  • St Paul’s Cathedral
  • St. James’ Park – done!
  • Tate Modern
  • The Royal Albert Hall
  • The Shard
  • Tower Bridge – requires more exploring
  • Tower of London
  • Trafalgar Square – done!
  • Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Windsor Castle – partially done, I’ve visited Windsor and seen the castle but would really like a tour!
  • Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park – done, post coming soon!

Have any more to add? Comment below!

Moving to Twickenham

Image of Twickenham Green
Twickenham Green

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.

Image of Twickenham Green
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.

Image of Twickenham Green
Twickenham Green

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.

Image of River Crane Walk
River Crane Walk

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.

Image of Twickenham Riverside
Twickenham Riverside

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!

Image of Eel Pie Island Twickenham
Eel Pie Island Twickenham

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.

Image of Twickenham Riverside
Twickenham Riverside

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.

Welcome

Why not join me as I wander around the English countryside and take the few odd trips around the world?

Welcome to my blog!

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?