Recently we were blessed with a rather warm Spring day, so we headed to Kew Gardens. If I had to vote for “city with the largest green spaces” I think London would be at the top. There are a number of parks and commons we walk to in our neighborhood alone, but once we head closer to Central London, parks seem to get even more numerous. In fact, after writing this, I discovered in a local book that London has over 25 percent of its area as green space. Pretty impressive, considering over 7 million people live here.
So we set out early on a Saturday morning to Richmond, which is a very nice (expensive) place to live. It was quite a long train ride, and after trekking by numerous mansions (I’m told Mic Jagger lives here), there was a long queue. “Queuing” in England basically means waiting in line, but is quite a sport here as the British are very serious about their queues. Now, I am very much a rule follower and can follow a line for sure, but I once had a women yell at me for going onto the bus in front of her, with my baby, in the rain, when there was no visible queue to be seen as everyone was just sort of huddled underneath the bus stop shelter. But I digress.
Kew Gardens is a large botanical garden, and actually is called the most comprehensive botanical collection on earth at 120 hectares. It has the largest collection of orchids in the world. We found a magnificent rhododendron garden of all colors and sizes; a Bamboo Garden and Japanese Minka house (farm house),with 1200 species of bamboo; a Bonsai house; a Chinese Pagoda, standing as the tallest reconstructed pagoda in Europe when rebuilt in 1762; and a tropical nursery, complete with some sort of lizard that jumped out at us. If you have to chance to visit it, I would highly suggest it, as there is sure to be something in bloom. And the number of beautiful mansions overlooking these gardens (drum roll please)…how’s that for satisfaction?
My three year old was fascinated, as was I, by the Xstrata Treetop Walkway, left, a circular walk 18 meters (60 ft) in the air and 200 meters (656 ft) around, where you can get a great aerial view. After 118 steps up and back down, we were ready for ice cream; my daughter was ready for the tree house playground and the indoor play structure with face painting.
I’m no plant expert, but we managed to spend all day there enjoying ourselves, strolling through the gardens, getting lost in pathways, and even discovered an old Roman arch before we left.
So I can’t finish without mentioning the World Cup that begins this week. I know, I know, if you’re a typical American, you may be saying soccer, blah, blah blah. Or as we call it in London and the rest of world, ‘football.’ But let me tell you, I am learning it is like the BIGGEST sporting event in the world. Imagine the Super Bowl for the U.S., but the entire WORLD is watching the World Cup. And its talked about everywhere. As I write this I am watching the BBC cover the World Cup players exiting the airplane in South Africa; CNN discuss the players’ good luck charms they wear during matches; and check out my photos from my morning walk into town.
So yes, this Saturday on our wedding anniversary I’ll be watching the U.S. take on England. I’ll feel a bit like I’m cheering on the Jamaican bobsled team from the 1988 Calgary Olympics, but you never know…I heard England has a few injured starters. And while I haven’t quite jumped on ‘football’ the bandwagon just yet, GO U.S.A!!