Isn’t it wonderful when the stars align so perfectly and whatever you want or need to do works out without any struggle? It doesn’t happen that often, but every now and then it seems that all the parts just fall into their perfect place.
This happened to us this weekend and ooh was it fantastic! We had been keeping tabs on the weather forecast and saw that Saturday was supposed to be sunny although cold. Those cloudless days don’t come too often this time of the year, so we wanted to make the most of the day. We kept checking the forecast and were so pleased that it didn’t change. Our plan was to find a park to explore, preferably somewhere we’d not been before.
One of us was taking the tube on Friday afternoon and picked up a copy of the Evening Standard. While leafing through the magazine, we came across a short interview with Alexa Chang, saying she had recently gone to Richmond Park to see the deer.
Hmmmm, Richmond Park…. It rang a bell but we didn’t think we’d ever been. A quick Google search confirmed our suspicions and also that the park is easily accessible by public transport, especially if you don’t mind a short walk, which we certainly don’t.
Yesterday morning dawned as sunny and beautiful as the BBC had forecast. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We’d love to say that we were up at the crack of dawn and got an early start to the day, but we didn’t. There is something lovely about a little sleep in on cold mornings, and that’s what we did, then listened to some music while having coffee before stepping outside around 11am, which, to be honest, is still pretty early for a Saturday!
We debated whether to take the train or the tube to Richmond station, which is a quick walk from the park. Well, they’re both trains, but the decision was between catching a quicker train from Waterloo or taking the tube from Blackfriars. Blackfriars is a fair amount closer to our home, just a quick stroll across the river, and the fare half the price, so we decided on it. It took around 40 minutes to get to Richmond, even though the train stopped two stations away and we had to wait for another one.
The station is pretty much in the middle of town, which is picturesque in that very English way. It just feels like England. The main street has cute stores even though quite a few are chains. But the ambiance is still very British, like a storybook.
We started making our way towards the park, or where we thought was the park. The one navigating certainly doesn’t have Magellan-style skills and we soon realized we were going in the opposite direction. Which meant that the other one of us had to take the reins and direct us to the park.
After a walk along a main road we got to Richmond Park, which is the largest of London’s eight royal parks, spanning a staggering 2,500 acres. The area was enclosed by Charles I in the 1600s. Red and Fallow deer have been roaming the area since before then, and are still a fantastic attraction, with more than 600 believed to be in the park. There are also foxes, rabbits, swans, and many birds.
But it was the deer that most fascinated us and we really wanted to see a few. But we were being realistic. The park is enormous and it was a possibility that we wouldn’t come across any deer. So we just enjoyed walking around. It was cold, and there was still frost on the ground in shaded areas.
We walked among the heavy vegetation for a while. The trees are enormous, with thick trunks and towering over us. The land was lush and it felt like we were walking on a heavily padded rug. When we walked out from the shadow of the trees, we saw the first herd of deer, a couple of big ones with large antlers and even some small ones.
We didn’t want to get too close. These animals are big and look strong and we certainly didn’t want to make them uncomfortable. So we followed the recommendations to stay away, which is why the photos, taken with an iPhone, aren’t very clear.
Having seen the deer, we were ready to head back and stop at one of the many pubs in town. We started walking towards the exit and got a glimpse of the City, including the Shard and St Paul’s. Yes, even though it’s 10 miles away, there’s a protected sight path between the two. Then, as we were getting close to the exit, we came across another herd of deer, this time closer to the path.
They seemed busy grazing, but still a wonder to see animals in their natural habitat. It sure beats going to the zoo! We stopped for a celebratory drink and lunch at Roebuck, a certain oldie, having been a drinking house since the 1500s although it was rebuilt in 1741. They make a mean cheesy garlic bread.
The view from across the street isn’t bad either!
We didn’t get to explore the town, so we have to go back. We can’t wait!