This trip happened about 10 weeks ago, back in the full fall weather, before winter started moving in, on a much warmer day than I’m currently experiencing.
One of the reasons we hit this park was because of a free music show some friends were a part of at a nearby café. But back to the green space:
Morden Hall Park is a National Trust park which surrounds the River Wandle in the south of London. The park contains an array of landscapes and buildings including Morden Hall (hence the name), Morden Cottage, an old Snuff Mill, a second-hand bookshop, as well as old farm buildings some of which make up the garden center and a city farm.
The area known as the “Heart of the Park”, which includes estate buildings, the Stable Yard, and the rose garden, is a great area to wander and take pictures—at least as a start. This is where the top picture was takes. The rose garden was one of my favorite spots. With over 2000 roses and the little brook featured in the picture, it’s a beautiful photo stop as well as a nice place to treat yourself to a picnic and nice read—weather permitting!
Throughout the park, if you stick to the waterways, you’ll find foot bridges of all styles and sizes, from flat woods to intricate metals, each fitting the style of the surrounding areas and all great for us photo junkies.
Another great spot we wandered across was these beautiful water arches with the overgrown plant life lingering across the water ways. These are located a short walk from Morden Hall, and are one of the many hidden gems you’ll find if you just wander through the many areas of this National Trust Park.
There is also a Tramlink light rail line from Wimbledon to Croydon that runs through the northern part of the park with multiple stops which give you quick and easy access to the park and a nicer walk than coming up from the underground. The train tracks make another great picture spot and was quite unexpected for us!
I loved being able to walk over the train rails and there are so many areas throughout the park, each which look so strikingly different from the rest that this is just one more spot in London where you can take the day off for photoshoots, a day in the park to read or picnic, spend your lunch hour if you live or work nearby, or another chance to escape the gray of the city while still being in the city.
This week, one of the worst things that most of us can imagine happened on the streets of Paris: armed terrorists attacked and killed unarmed civilians to further a cause that uses bastardized faith to justify both their means and ends.
But I wasn’t going to write about that.
Then this week, across all media and social media platforms, news of all kinds of disasters, all over the world – natural and unnatural, yet all terrifying – started to pop up in my feeds.
Still, I wasn’t going to write about this.
Then, one conversation caught my attention:
A fellow traveler, another American girl like me living abroad, had written how she loved being out in the world but sometimes it’s a scary place to be. An older family friend responded:
“Well, you should just come home right now and you’ll be fine.”
This is a thought so many of us have had: ‘If I’m home, where I grew up, where everyone knows me, I’ll be safe.’ In our heads, it is only out in the world that danger lurks.
But I think what human history has shown us is that just staying home doesn’t grantee us anything. These acts can happen anywhere, but it is my belief that if we just sit in our houses and watch these evens on our screens, we are giving ourselves a huge disadvantage:
It is out in the world where you gain the perspective to see more than your our tiny world, your own life; even if gaining those worldviews is a truly scary experience. I’m not saying traveling is the only way to get this perspective, but it helps.
So, I’m not going to sit here and write not to be scared, or that fear is the only thing to be afraid of (although there is wisdom in that), or that if you stay afraid and at home, you’re letting the terrorists win, because that will never be my point.
What I want to say -in this long-winded way – is that if you want to go out in the world and learn, don’t let events like the one this past week be the thing that holds you back. As always, be safe in how you travel, where you go, what you do, but don’t hold back on experience and living and learning because of the ignorance of others.
Beyond fear, ignorance and, more so, settling for ignorance is the thing I fear, so go out, be safe, be kind, be open, and travel well. Now and always,
This is Leave on the WInd, helping (and hoping) you soar.
The first of London’s great green spaces to lose yourself in: Hampstead Heath.
While most people know this huge expanse of green park-age for its famed view of city proper off of Parliament Hill (a spot worth the small climb on a good day), the first time I had heard of the area was planning all those summers back (about 3 now) when researching the English poet, John Keats. While his house is a short jaunt away from the greenery, it’s not a stretch to think about the young (though sickly) poet strolling through the great wooded expanses, even if the grounds are doubtlessly different.
And that is what I love about this area, whether you wander through after a quick stop in at Keats House, or stop by to check out the penned in animals, or wander the woods, or checkout the viewing points, or the beautiful Kenwood House (the actual family home as depicted in the 2013 film Belle, which was great!), or just come to get lost away from the grey of the city, Hampstead Heath has it all to offer.
But out of everything, what I loved was the deserted looking (but only looking) Pergola and Hill Gardens on the western part of the Heath.
This is an amateur photographers’ dream landscape and I want so badly to go and have some kind of occasion/fashion shoot in these overgrown walk ways.
I swear, my camera and I are once again in love!
One of my favorite things in the world are places like this, where the world was built up and then nature comes along and takes over.
Luckily enough, we managed to go in when few others were also wandering, so there weren’t many long periods of waiting for people to move as to not ruin the lost civilization/forgotten place motif I had in mind.
This is a great secluded part of the park, far enough away from the animal enclosures and children’s play grounds to avoid heavy foot traffic which makes it an ideal on sunny days for a wander, a quite park read, or (like my day) an impromptu photography session.
While this is an area where the average traveler should try to hit if their stay in London permits (double so if your historic and/or literary tastes lean this way), I feel like I loved it so much more after having spent so long in the city surrounded by gray. So here is my call to all the city dwellers: take the train out; it’s an easy day in the green to free yourself. A more or less free detox thanks to good shoes and mother-nature; go and take it!
But then, I’m the kind of person who becomes claustrophobic in a city, so I’m one who will always look out to find new green places to offset it. In the next few weeks, as I finish out my stay here in London, I’ll be posting about some of my favorites and adventures through them, but for slightly more immediate coverage, feel free to follow my Instagram (more pics of this and other adventures await you!) as well.
And until next time, with luck in all your green-y (mis)adventures,
Travelers can be nasty people so be kind to them, especially those working and trying to help.
This week, I traveled back to London, marking my second long trip in the span of a month. While to some this much back and forth seems crazy, for me, this is a warm up for moving back home in December and then coming back for graduation (a round trip) in January —not to mention any air travel needed once I figure out where I’ll be getting a job and living after that.
On the way back here, I encountered a lot more travel issues than I ever expected.
At LAX, our flight was delayed boarding for about an hour, in which time we were shuffled from one gate to the next, 4 times over. In Seattle, we were delayed another 40 minutes. Then we lingered over Heathrow for yet another 30 minutes due to an overcrowded flight deck. Once inside, customs took another hour and a half—which, including deplaning and getting to the tube, was more like two hours.
So, while, as an experienced, traveler I understand how these things add up and compound with normal travel stress, causing tensions fly high, nothing excuses some of the passengers’ behaviors I have seen in these last few trips.
I’m not going to list everything I have seen, but here are a few examples of the big travel don’ts I’ve witnessed:
1. In LAX, I watched a woman fight over pushing a wheelchair from one gate to another. The TSA agent literally had to move the woman’s hand off of her own and say very slowly, “Ma’am, you are not allowed to move this wheelchair. I will get you both to the gate, but you have to let go.” This was said three times within my hearing.
Guys, airports have strict procedures that you may not understand—you don’t have to! Seriously, your job is to follow directions and get on your plane. That’s it!
2. Going through customs, as the line wrapped around the corridor, I heard another woman exclaim when she saw the line: “oh my god, we are not waiting in this line. Come on, we are going to talk to someone about this mess.”
This mess was an unexpected buildup took half as long as any of us expected thanks to the teamwork of those working on the ground. I saw more tiny women running in heals, trying to keep smiling, and everyone happy than I had ever witnessed before.
3. And finally, a scene created by a mother of two whom left her baggage unattended outside of customs while her husband waited in line because her son needed to use the restroom – she didn’t want to take said luggage with her. When the TSA told her she could not leave the bags unattended, the woman yelled at her about her kid needing to go to the bathroom and how she would be back. The TSA woman was stern but polite, continuing with stating the airport protocols. Finally, the woman’s husband got out of line and stood with the bags.
This should have ended the confrontation. However, when the mother got back, she went back and continued to explain/ argue with the agent a little more quietly while her husband (alone) dragged the family bags back with him in line.
Seriously, ladies, why does it always seem to be us?!
There were a few men causing issues—ie. men taking up too much room when room is tight, men who drink too much and talk to loud, ect—but no one was as belligerent as these women.
And here’s the thing, especially with the holiday jams approaching: traveling can be a major pain. It’s stressful physically, mentally, and sometimes emotionally. It’s a pain to get to the airport, it’s stressful being confined onboard where you have no control over where you are and who you are with, and then it’s stressful getting out of the airplane and through the rest of the airport (sometimes, again, because of those you are with).
Still, can you imagine how much worse it feels for someone who has to do all of this every day, and then gets yelled at by belligerent people who can control the situation just as much as you can?
So instead of being a belligerent passenger, travel smarter.
Carry as little carry on baggage as you can—this gives you a little more under the seat room.
Check in early – etickets are so easy now and save you tons of issues and time; dropping off your bags will be the only thing you have to deal with.
Stop carrying makeup and other liquids through security—your face will thank you for a day off and security will be a breeze. If you forget to remove these from your bag, you will be held up at security as they go through your whole bag. It’s really not worth it!
And seriously, schedule large gaps between stops for those tricky layovers, especially during the busier seasons. This is especially important for overseas travel as places, such as Heathrow, have you go through customs there before you move further on.
If you do need help, always be kind. Sometimes people who are working, whether as TSAs, in food services, on the plane and off, can be flustered, hasty, and even rude. But trust that their day is probably a lot more stressing than yours and they do it every day. So do good, be kind, smile more. The world is a tough enough place without you adding to it. You’ll be happier for it.
Now as I fight off jetlag, I hope you have many happy travels and until next time,