Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Way Out West

Monday saw us venturing further west than I'd ever gone, this time to Richmond (one stop beyond Kew, where I had been). The plan for the day was to follow a walk from one of Andrew Duncan's books. I'm happy to report that we did the entire walk as written, without getting lost or me losing the photocopy of the route.

Richmond is a lovely, very old place. I think I read that it is the most Tory district in London -- I believe it, given the pricey homes with river views that we passed. Various celebs live here, like Pete Townsend and Mick Jagger. The center of Richmond has an extremely busy commercial area, with all the High Street shops you'd expect, but you can quickly nip under an arch and down a passage (as we did) and leave the 21st century behind. 

Soon we were at Richmond Green, lined with Georgian shops and houses, as well as remaining bits of a Tudor palace. From there, we turned down to the river and walked on the Thames Path for a little bit till we reached Richmond Bridge. We climbed a set of steps to the street level, and kept walking uphill from there -- past 19th century hotels (Richmond was a popular vacation spot), and stopping at the Terrace Gardens where we had great views up the river to the west and north. But the best views were yet to come. Upward we climbed, into Richmond Park and to King Henry's Mound. From there, you can see Windsor Castle to the west and, through a well-maintained cutting through the trees, the dome of St Paul's Cathedral to the east. It was possible to faintly make these landmarks out with the naked eye, but the brass telescope really helped. 

The walk was all downhill from there, but not the experience or the weather, which kept getting warmer and sunnier as the day progressed. We walked through the Petersham Meadow and the tiny village of Petersham, past the Richmond Polo Club, until we reached the wall of Ham House. Following the wall, and nipping down Cut Throat Alley, we walked around the vast property until we got to the entrance just off the Thames Path. 

Using my Art Pass, my entry to Ham House was free (£11 value). The house is totally amazing, like nothing we have in the States. The estate dates from Tudor times, with the original house built in 1610. It has been in the same family for its entire existence, with various generations undertaking restorations and redecorations, until 1948 when it passed to the National Trust. The owners kept detailed inventories and they seem to have kept everything, so what you see is largely what the house would have looked like to visitors in the 17th or 18th centuries.  The house is full of silk tapestries, incredible furniture, Chinese ceramics, and old paintings. It even has one of the first bathrooms in England, installed in 1675. 

From Ham House, we continued back to Richmond along the Thames Path, along the gardens that we'd seen from the terrace above. Then, back on the train, quick meal at the flat, and the bus up to Kilburn to see a play called Handbagged at the Tricycle Theatre. It's all about the relationship between the Queen and Margaret Thatcher, and was really good fun. Roger and I have a tradition of seeing a bad play when I'm in London -- we broke tradition with this one.

I'm writing this on Tuesday morning. We had originally planned to spend the day in Chichester, seeing street art, the cathedral and a contemporary art galley. We've bagged that plan and gone our separate ways. I've already been up to Queens Park to take a Pilates mat class (wicked hard, but it felt good), and will soon be out the door to roam around Spitalfields and Shoreditch for the afternoon.

£20 to top up Oyster again
£1 coconut water (we packed a lunch; I had my Heidi pie for dinner)
23,441 steps (8.87 miles)

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