Salmon Sandwich Tally: 9
Distance Walked: 14 Miles
Writing Soundtrack: ITV 3
*** All photos are property of yours truly – Please don’t use them ***
I don’t have much to say about Day Thirteen as I spent a lazy day in the flat until it was time to meet a friend for dinner.
Day Fourteen was spent at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew which is my favourite place to visit while in London. I had a window of good weather (it only briefly drizzled) and was able to spend quite a few hours happily wandering. The bluebells have bloomed and there were blankets of blueish purple throughout the woodland areas…actually, they could be found pretty much everywhere. Even with a full day to explore, it would be quite a challenge to cover everything there is to see, but since I was pressed for time this visit, I focused on some of my favourite sections and Kew Palace, since I’d never ventured inside before. And lunch at The Orangery is always a good idea. I really can’t recommend Kew enough and if I lived in/near London, I’d probably find my way there quite often. An adult admission with donation is £18.50 and the Victoria Gate (the main gate) is just a short walk down Lichfield Road from Kew Gardens Station. The Temperate House has been closed for refurbishment during each previous visit but is scheduled to open May 5th after an extensive restoration (hopefully I can catch it next time.Later that evening, I met a friend for dinner and we saw Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband at the Vaudeville Theatre. It featured Edward Fox, Freddie Fox, Frances Barber, Nathaniel Parker, Sally Bretton, and Susan Hampshire…and was absolutely superb.Day Fifteen was my last full day in London before I fly home tomorrow. I had planned to walk along the Embankment and then wander through a couple of the parks on my way back to the flat, but the wind and the rain thwarted that plan. So instead I caught a Thames Clipper at Embankment Pier, rode it to Greenwich, had lunch, then rode it back to Tower Gateway Pier and caught the Tube back to Paddington from Tower Hill.
I may not make a post about the final trip day as it’ll just be a travel day from London back to San Francisco, but I just want to thank any and everyone for following this little adventure and taking the time to read these little ramblings.
Day Fourteen began by sleeping in a bit and then un-zombie-fying myself, pausing my dancing around the flat and singing along (badly) to the Beautiful soundtrack just long enough to dry my hair and make myself presentable. By 10:30, I was on my way to Paddington to catch the District Line to Earl’s Court, where I switched to a Richmond-bound District Line train that took me to Kew Gardens. I visited Kew during my trip last spring, but knew as soon as that visit was over that I wanted to see it again. So I did. It was interesting to see the seasonal differences throughout the grounds, since my visit last year was almost two months further into spring when the trees were full and the bluebells were sprinkled everywhere, carpeting the ground. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too early for bluebells, but the daffodils have bloomed like mad and there where huge swatches of yellow loveliness everywhere.
Last time, I jumped on the Kew Explorer at its first stop near the Victoria Gate (a handy hop on/hop off tram that runs throughout the gardens, stopping at various spots, with the drivers providing a guided tour along the way). I didn’t plan on doing so today, but thought I probably would later, so I went ahead and bought my wristband when I got there (the gardens are huge, so it’s a wonderful remedy for sore feet and well worth the £4.50). However, I never did catch a ride on it, wandering around on foot for my entire visit. I meandered along the paths and down the vistas, climbed the eight or so flights of stairs up to the Treetop Walkway (I’m discovering this trip that I’m not as cool with heights as I was when I was younger. Unfortunately, this is always realised once I’ve climbed to the top of something), and through the rhododendron grove, the “rhodies” having just started to bloom. I even crossed paths with a peacock near the water lily pond and a fox as I neared Kew Palace.
Eventually, my stomach let me know that it was time for some sustenance, so I headed for the restaurant in the Orangery where I ate last time. After a salad, a cuppa, and a delicious, perfectly portioned chocolate cake, I resumed my wanderings, my feet carrying me along the broad walk, through the Princess of Wales Conservatory, Alpine House, and rock garden, past the Palm House, and back to the plaza at the Victoria Gate.
I bought a few bluebell-vintage London Underground things and then said goodbye to Kew, making my way back to the station and a District Line train to Earl’s Court and then Paddington, where I grabbed some groceries at Sainsbury’s before walking back to the flat to write some more … and do more laundry (laundry takes awhile with a tiny washer-dryer).
The forecast promised a lovely day today and I was out the door and on my way to Paddington station by 9:30. There, I caught a District Line train to Earls Court where I switched to a second District Line train that would take me west to Kew Gardens. After a short walk, I entered through the Victoria Gate and wandered along a pathway to the Kew Explorer tram, which makes a circuit through the various gardens. It’s a great little thing, with the driver giving you an interesting and informative guided tour and it makes seven stops along the way so you can hop off and on whenever and wherever you choose. I hopped off at stop number four, which was the closest one to the vast blankets of bluebells in the northwest corner. I absolutely love bluebells and since we don’t have them at home, I can’t seem to get enough of them while I’m here. I happily wandered along, snapping photos like mad with a smile on my face as I looked at them carpeting the ground amongst the trees.
Eventually, I reached the northern boundary and wandered east alongside the Thames until I got to tram stop number five, where I caught the next tram and continued with the guided tour, passing groves of rhododendrons on the right and Kew Palace on the left before reaching the Orangery. It was completed in 1761…and it’s where I grabbed a spot of lunch. After my smoked salmon sandwich, elderberry fizzy, and orange plum cake, I hopped on the tram again and took it back to stop number one, passing the Princess of Wales Conservatory and the Palm House on the way. I then walked back to the Palm House, but didn’t stay for more than just a couple of minutes as the warm, humid environment really isn’t my cup of tea at all. However, I’d seen pictures of the spiral staircases within it that lead up the gallery and I really wanted to see them. After leaving the Palm House, I wandered back to the Princess of Wales Conservatory, which “houses ten computer-controlled micro-climatic zones, with the bulk of the greenhouse volume composed of Dry Tropics and Wet Tropics plants” (wikipedia.org). Outside, I was greeted by golden poppies…the state flower of California and a little taste of home. And being from California where it’s very often hot and dry (and miserable), I didn’t spend too much time wandering through, making my way back past the Palm House to the Victoria Gate and gift shop before too long.
After leaving Kew Gardens, I took the District Line and eventually made my way to the Chiswick Park station. From there, I wandered down to and then along Chiswick High Road, past Turnham Green, and up Turnham Green Terrace, where I bought some frozen yogurt that I enjoyed on a bench in Chiswick Common. Chiswick was abuzz with people out and about, enjoying their Sunday afternoon and the lovely weather. Eventually, I caught the eastbound District Line at Turnham Green station, changed at Earls Court, and made my way back to Paddington and the flat.