Our London trip is winding down and I am trying to figure out a way to write this last post. London has been crazy, amazing, beautiful, cold, rainy, informative, and fascinating all wrapped up in a nice little ball.
Since we were staying with family, we got to experience this city a little differently from the others. We had people we knew and loved that we could talk to, get advice from, and share flake-bar-ice-cream with. We also stayed just outside of the hustle and bustle of the city, but close enough to get there in no time. We can’t thank our hosts enough for letting us bunk with them on our journey and for all the help and laughs along the way.
In case you are looking to visit, Walton-on-Thames is a beautiful London suburb that has easy access to lots of the non-Central-London attractions!
Bushy Park is just a wide space of open land. There are ponds and running trails and it’s a great place to go have a picnic. Oh yeah- there are also a few hundred Royal Deer pacing around you… 🙂 We stopped by the park one morning and were shocked at how close the deer get. These are literally… the Queen’s Deer… They live here in the park and are totally used to people jogging by so they really pay no mind to you. Fun little detour!
Hampton Court Palace:
A few minutes away from Bushy Park is Hampton Court Palace and Gardens. We spent a half day here and wish we had more time to devote to it. The Palace itself was gorgeous and there are so many gardens you could spend a whole day just walking around the grounds!
Although you can’t take pictures inside, we took an audio tour of Hampton Palace and loved it. You walk all through the apartments of the Tudors and learn a lot about their history. You can walk through the grand halls, processional rooms, and even bed chambers of Henry VIII. It was stunning and we only really got through about 1/3 of it! Did you know that Henry VIII had free WINE fountains in the palace courtyard? It was just one of his many ways of showing guests how well he treats them and ergo what a fabulous king he was.
Outside the Palace walls you find garden after garden. They are all named and themed of course and so fun to explore! Our favorite garden was one of the smallest called the Netherlands Garden and was full of beautiful tulips! Bonus, there are little carriages around the gardens to take photos in if you are feeling Royal 😉
The part I was most looking forward to.. was the hedge maze! I really wanted to do a hedge maze while in London! My aunt and I did one about 10 years ago when we visited and we had to follow some smarter looking people out!
The hedge maze at Hampton Court was small, but fun, and marvelously confusing. It took us a little bit, but we got the hang of it 😉 This is literally the world’s oldest hedge maze- they even have the Guinness World Record to prove it. It was commissioned to be built by William III and has survived, intact, for over 300 years!
Right in Walton, you will find the delightful Painshill Park. This is similar to Maymont for you Richmonders. It is a large park with many walking trails, lakes, and swans where you can go to read a book, have a picnic, or whatever else people do in parks. In fact, we were fascinated with a workout group we saw made up of 25-30 moms and babies. They were all jogging around while 1-2 moms watched ALL the babies in strollers in an area. Then the Guard Moms would swap out. But seriously, 1 mom, 25 babies in strollers. It was crazy but so fun to watch.
Painshill offers some really pretty views and some interesting faux-ruins to walk around. It’s worth a little trip if you are looking for some relaxing time in nature!
Who would take a journey to London and not go visit the Queen’s homes! We have seen Buckingham. We have seen her apartments in the Tower of London. It’s time for the big kahuna. Windsor Castle.
We arrived to be greeted with the Queen’s Flag- “The Queen is in!” She rudely did not come out to say hello, but I’m sure she was busy with more posh and important matters 😉
Again, you can’t take photos inside, but we had a great time walking around the beautiful grounds and the state apartments. We learned about lots of previous monarchies, watched the Changing of the Guard from above, and learned all about the Order of the Garter/Order of the Thistle. (We are fascinated with knights!)
We had such a great time in London and couldn’t believe how fast our two weeks went! We feel like we really saw a lot of the city and the surrounding areas and got to learn a lot about the UK and their monarchy. We will have to catch the Queen on our next visit.