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28 December 2014

Picnic, Walking and a Museum - a Fun Couple of Days Back in the UK

After our visit to Spain back in the summer we returned to the UK for a few days before jetting off again (more on where to that time very soon).  As is often the way we managed to squeeze in a bit of time in Richmond, the part of London we used to live near, deciding on one of our days there to go for a picnic (as the weather was still reasonable) in Richmond park.  So after a visit to the local supermarket for all the essentials we walked from the town centre to the park.  It's not too far and is a pleasant walk before you even arrive in the park, with the opportunity to take in some great views along the way.


The Thames looking towards Richmond bridge

View from the top of Richmond hill, one of the fabulous views on the way to Richmond park

Richmond park is the largest of London's Royal Parks.  In 1625 Charles I brought his court to Richmond Palace to escape the plague in London and turned the area into a deer park, although the Royal connections probably go back much further than this beginning with Edward I (1272 - 1307) when the area was known as the Manor of Sheen before changing its name to Richmond in the reign of Henry VII.  Today both red and fallow deer can still be found in abundance in the park.  It is a lovely spot to visit and despite being underneath the flight path to Heathrow this really doesn't spoil your enjoyment.  In fact for aviation fans like my husband it only adds to the thrill of a walk in Richmond park.  I've enjoyed walks there at all times of the year, one was even a feature of our last Christmas in the UK before moving to Singapore.  There are definitely worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon in this part of London.

Some familiar sights from London's skyline viewed from Richmond park



Just a couple of Richmond park's numerous deer (and some horses in the background)

As well as our walk and picnic we also decided to visit one of London's many museums before leaving again.  We settled on one I'd not been too since I was in my early teens (possibly even younger) and one also not long reopened again after a refurbishment, the Imperial War museum.  The great thing about this one and many other museums across the UK is that they are free to enter, other than some specific travelling exhibitions which will charge an admission fee.  A great way to encourage people to visit time and again in my opinion.  The museum was first opened in 1920 in Crystal Palace after the Government decided in 1917 that a National War museum should be set up to collect and display material from the First World War (still at that point being fought).  It moved to its present location, which was formerly the central portion of Bethlem Royal hospital, in 1936.

The museum has exhibits from the First and Second World War right up to modern day conflicts.  In the year that saw the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War perhaps the most memorable exhibit for me and one I'd definitely urge you not miss were the First World War galleries.  Amazingly this is also free to get in to though at peak times they issue timed tickets to you as you enter to stagger the number of people viewing the exhibit.  There was a fascinating amount of information, both from the front line and back at home, and plenty of interactive parts suitable for all ages.  My memories of the museum from when I visited as a child are hazy but I remember always enjoying myself there and I certainly wasn't disappointed with my return visit.

Imperial War museum, London 

It's always great to get back to London on our visits back to the UK if we can, wherever we go or whatever we do there.  It's a fabulous city (though I know I'm biased) but it has many fond memories for me as I worked there for over nine years, lived there for a while and still have friends living there.  I'm never sorry to have the chance to get back to London town.

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