Recently, I visited London. London is a place I dearly love. A place where I feel comfortable. A place with so many opportunities to wander and ponder. I have not been in London since January 2020. Much has changed as both the pandemic and Brexit occurred. But mostly, London remains the vibrant cultural hub of activity.
As we arrived, the city was preparing to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II. Elizabeth II is the longest-serving British monarch having served for 70 years. Most people in the United Kingdom have lived under one monarch. It will be interesting to see how history tells the story of this Elizabethan era. While the presence and celebration of Elizabeth II is everywhere in Central London, we chose to explore on the outskirts of Central London.
On day 1, we took the Thames Clipper from Embankment to Greenwich. I highly recommend this mode of transportation. Though more expensive, it is a unique way to see the city. Tip: Be sure to arrive early and get a window seat. Greenwich is famous for its Royal Observatory where one can stand on the prime meridian line. You can tour the Cutty Sark , the last remaining tea clipper. The University of Greenwich is there on the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College. You can walk through the amazing parks and get great views of London and Canary Wharf. Lots of dogs and kids running around. While in Greenwich, visiting the Greenwich Market is a must just to seen the eclectic mix of arts, crafts, and food. Speaking of food, if you want to eat, there are plenty of options so come here hungry!
Little known to many is the presence of a now (mostly) gone palace. The Palace of Placentia. Henry VIII was born here as were his two daughters Mary and Elizabeth. Elizabeth is reported to have spent much time here growing up. There is a tree on the grounds which she reportedly played under as a child and remains of the tree can still be seen! So much history is present. The palace was (mostly) torn down by Charles II in hopes to rebuild something bigger and better but it never happened. Read more about it here. I highly recommend a trip to Greenwich.
On day 2, we headed to Richmond. We used the train though the underground will take you there too. This trip was inspired by watching Ted Lasso. Though we had been to Richmond before, we had not explored it through the Ted Lasso lens. We arrived mid-morning on a Sunday and all was quiet. We stumbled upon a nice restaurant for breakfast. We wandered toward Richmond Green to locate the Princes Head Pub featured in the show. We also found where Ted lives but we we didn’t find the source of his biscuits! The park was quiet and most things were still closed. We decided to walk along the Thames Path to and around the Old Deer Park and up the Thames Path to Royal Botanical Gardens a.k.a. Kew Gardens (Total walk was about 2.5 miles. It’s flat and easy.)
If you have never been to Kew Gardens and you are interested in plants, flowers, trees, and bees, this is a must go place. It is stunningly beautiful and diverse. See what is there! Plants from all over the world. Each plant is marked and many have a description. Whether you are just learning about plants or are already an expert, there is something here for you.
After a couple of hours (which isn’t enough) we strolled back to Richmond, shopped a bit and ate at the Prince’s Head. Though there are only a few original structures left, Richmond was once the site a great palace. Richmond Palace was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I. She died here in 1603.
So in the span of two days, we visited the birth and death places of Elizabeth I. All this was done as the country prepared to celebrate Elizabeth II.