Life in London…

After a year and a half of wandering.

Along the Thames. London, UK. May 2015.

A few weeks before leaving London, a friend of mine – who was new to London – asked for me to write up some bits of advice and the links to information I used to navigate the area while living there. It’s taken me a while to get this all together — what with moving and all — and while bits and pieces of all this are scattered throughout my posts, I figured a master list wouldn’t be far off (though these will be written up as a two part list which will keep these posts short).

This week, I’ll focus on some highlights on living and exploring London itself.

What I loved about living in central London through most of my time here was knowing you could step outside, pick a direction and just walk. There is such a large variety of areas all with their own flavors and sites, so you’re bound to find something of interest.

Once I moved to the outer regions of the city, this was definitely harder. That’s the point where I really started looking through the lists I’ll be linking below to make much more defined plans for trips into the city.

From lists of many activities for the smallest of budgets to looking through to a variation of long walks through picturesque but out of the way green spaces to longer site-heavy central London walks, Buzzfeed is a surprisingly great portal for finding out how London may spoil you for anywhere else.

While England is not known for their food, there are many markets (which you should google or stumble upon) with everything from crafts to food to vintage wares to explore and a huge pub culture which begs to be discovered. But don’t be put off by crowds standing around in the early afternoon, already a beer or two in: this is London.

Another stop I wasn’t able to hit but is on my list in a big way is the variety of bookstore/library bars. Drinking and books? This I can get behind. Just be wary while planning; a few of these mentioned are members only!

Besides just a places to explore, London is huge in terms of shows and this spans much further than the famed west end. There are always great shows going on and many vendors which sell discounted tickets. A friend of mine (working in and writing her  dissertation on theatres) recommended this link for advice on getting great deals if you are young and/or a student which always helps.

In terms of shows, I loved Bend it like Beckham but my absolute favorite was Alice Underground which I have written about before. I went to this interactive show twice, following two of its storylines and absolutely loved every moment of it. If you are old enough to drink, for 5 GBP you can get a drink at the tea party (a choice between two wines and a cucumber vodka drink).

During my time in London, I think I explored almost every area across the city and I can attest to how much there is to do here, no matter your budget. Next time, I’ll layout some of my ground rules as well as pros and cons for quick trips out from the city, but just for now:

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Life in London…

Moving Home for Christmas….

A quick post on my experience of the biggest season for airport travel all year.

One last shot. Cental London, UK. December 2015.


I landed yesterday at LAX after one of the most stressful trips I’ve ever had. This had nothing to do with crews or airlines, but purely a stressful day at a stressful time of year.

I know I talk about planning and scheduling a lot but sometimes things still go wrong no matter what. Luckily, this didn’t happen but yesterday, but it was a pretty close call.
Why? Because I had never expected to have to deal with going through customs between flights. Therefore, double check WHERE you are going through customs and schedule accordingly! This is even bigger in high travel seasons (ie. the holidays!).
I was extremely lucky flying through Minneapolis rather than New York (like I almost did) as customs, rechecking bags, and going through security again only took 45 minutes.
In the end, this worked out well because I avoided doing it at the insanity of LAX,  but just a heads up to anyone and everyone making international flights this holiday season: check where you are going to have to do extra work and plan accordingly – this is not the time any of us want to miss a flight.
I know this was a quick post and I didn’t really explain the craziness (30 minutes of turbulence was – almost literally – sickening) of the trip, but I’m tired and it’s almost Christmas and there are a million things left to do.
So, until next time:
This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.
Moving Home for Christmas….

Last Green Spaces…

at least for this trip.

Conservatory in the garden. Chiswick House, London. December 2015.

Last week, I promised to finish up the post topic covering green spaces in western London. Now I honestly wish I had time to hit Kew Gardens, which seems really worth the trip with has a varied array of programming throughout the year, however, my schedule and weather have conspired against me.

Still, yesterday I managed to sneak out in the morning before a late work function to see two final green spaces: Chiswick House and Gardens and Gunnersbury Park.

Overall, this trip only took about 5 hours including travel to and between locations and, truth be told, travel took most of the trip.

Chiswick House and Gardens

Chiswick House, London. December 2015.

I chose this spot because of the pictures in this buzzfeed list (where I heard of most of the green space locations I’ve visited these past months.) It is just as lovely as the pictures.

Again, since its winter, things are a bit thinner all over, but it’s a lovely area with sights made for pictures (there are literal frames and posted cards explaining the sites viewed through them well worth the reading).

The house is closed for winter so in all the walk took little over an hour, wandering through the park.

My favorite spot was the conservatory which was great for pictures, though it is small.

If you want a longer stay, I’d recommend coming in summer when you can take a day to hang out and view the house.

The walk between these two parks is about 45 minutes and is relatively straight forward. If you go from Chiswick to Gunnersbury like I did, make sure you are on the left side of the street otherwise you’ll have a further walk and stairs to get into the park.

Gunnersbury Park

Standing ruins. Gunnersbury Park. December 2015.

The park is great if you are looking for a space to play football or other field games or go putting around the green, however, in its current state, photo junkies like me may as well skip it.

The whole park is basically under construction, or at least 95% of anything you’d want to photograph. The main website talks about the museum being closed for construction, but it is so much bigger than I could have imagined.

Once all the construction is done, this park should be an absolutely beautiful place to shoot, but for now, its a walk through flat grass.

Summing up the two days in the western greens:

Knowing what I know now, I’d say you can hit all of these spots in one day in spring or summer when their hours are longer if you do a lot less wandering (or getting lost) than I did.

My other recommendation is looking at a two day trip adding a few more stops, like those I mentioned last week as well as Syon Park.

But that’s all from me while out here living in London. I’ve loved it all and hope you have as well.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.



Last Green Spaces…

A Walk Through a (London) Yellow Wood…

And a few other fantastic London sights.

Statues in York House Gardens. York House, London. December 2015.

With two weeks left living here in London, I have begun to explore my last bit of green spots marked out on the map between London proper and Heathrow airport.  This covers Twickenham and Richmond (two areas I will dream of affording after my wander!!), along the river ways through Isleworth, over to Brentford and Chiswick.

This week I’ll be looking at my first day wander-through which covered Twickenham, Richmond and along Isleworth; York House, Petersham Nursery and back and forth along the river past Kew Gardens.

First stop: York House Gardens.

What first drew me to this particular stop was the large Grecian statue instillation in the second half of this houses bisected garden area. However, in the first half there is also a great pond area with a wooden bridge that is easily overlooked, a little under groomed but a lovely stop to take a few moments to oneself in.

Feels like an Austen Novel. York House Gardens, London. December 2015.

The house is currently closed but, as we come out of winter, you should check for opening dates and times to extend your visit to this lovely house. In the meantime, I suggest taking a wander through the local town area and along the water for great views and fresh air.

For me this was a quick stop along a much bigger walk in an absolutely beautiful area of greater London, leading us to the second stop, but, being me, happened the long way round.

The issue with this area, as it soon became apparent, is an utter lack of bridges.  I walked from York house up toward Richmond where Richmond Road crosses the Thames which is about half a mile to a mile (depending on your approach) to my second stop.

This being said, this river walk is breathtaking on a day like mine—which was absolutely amazing for London in winter. The color was in full bloom and the sun was shining.

This second stop was to the Petersham Nursery.

A greenhouse at Christmas. Petersham Nursery, London. December 2015.

Again, this is a short stop but if anyone is interested in photographing greenhouses filled with chandeliers, garden supplies, and plant life, this is a great stop. Admission is free and you can walk around and take all the pictures you want.

Just a note: if you want to get here quicker (and leave more quickly) take the path through the meadows as you head away from the Richmond Bridge. Once you hit the street, turn left and the nursery will be at the dead end to the right.

As I came in winter, there were a lot of empty trellises which would be gorgeous in spring or summer, but coming at Christmas meant the greenhouses gave me a million and one ideas for decorating back home.

Lunch at the Tea House. Petersham Nursery, London. December 2015.

This is a nice stop for grabbing lunch which is served until 3 pm. The food is delicious but cost is pretty high. There are a few different areas to grab food but if you aren’t looking for a nice place to stop—meaning if you don’t have a jacket and your boots are covered in mud—don’t hit the café which can cost upwards of 20GBP for the entree alone, but hear back to the tea house. I got a warm, filling butternut squash, mushroom, and sage lasagna with a side of fennel salad and a small tea (3 cups) for about 15 GBP. Not the cheapest meal, but worth it.

Plus eating in the green house was nice.

Walk along the yellowed wood. Richmond along Thames, London. December 2015

Both of these were more photo stops than anything else but again, the area is more than suitable for an all-day wander so the trek is worth it if you choose to make a day out of the trip.

While you are in the area, there are more than a few stops that I know I won’t manage this time around but you should definitely look into walking through including Ham House, Richmond Park and Kew Gardens (this last stop I am hoping to hit in my part two of the final trips out there).

But until next week,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

A Walk Through a (London) Yellow Wood…

Long Green (Chain) Walks…

… a four-in-one kind of day.

Finding Green in the Grey City. Horniman Gardens, London. November 2015.

The problem with the winter cold and coming up on the end of my time here is that I don’t end up going out as much as I would like to. Also, time passes more quickly than expected so it seems impossible that my long day running through part of the Green Chain Walk in London was already three weeks ago.

While the north of London has its share of forest stops to wander through, if you are a fan of green park spaces (and a few forests as well), practically everywhere along southern London is an easy distance from a decent number of green space networks. I’m slowly but surely trying to make my way through them.

Last week, I looked at Morden Hall Park, but this week I’m looking at a close network along the Green Chain Walk through Crystal Palace Park, Horniman Gardens (and Museum), Dulwich Park, and Sdyenham Hill Wood.

I was only in Dulwick Park for a short time (and accidentally; I got a little loss) after a shortcut through Sdyenham Hill Park went awry due to a closed pass, but Crystal Palace Park and The Horniman Gardens really make the trek to this part of London worth it all.

So to break it down:

Dinosaur Pond. Crystal Palace Park, London. November 2015.

Crystal Palace Park is a massive green space which is filled with all sorts of sights and events you can attend throughout the year. Even when there are no events on, the park is filled with walks like Darwin and the Dinosaurs walk with an audio guide offered through Audiotrails. This trail moves throughout the park with easy numbering following the evolution of these statues, like this large dinosaur specific waterway.

Near the center of the park, there is also a maze whose history is detailed in the large sign outside the entrance. It shouldn’t take more than an hour (and that is if you get really lost!) to complete with nice placards to follow throughout. At the very least, this is a great photo spot!

The Maze. Crystal Palace Park. November 2015.

There are many more spots for budding photographers from the Sphinxes near the top of the park to the layers of arches and surrounding greenery and hiking trails throughout.

The Hortiman Gardens are much smaller but no less picturesque. The gardens themselves are highly maintained—not the overgrown beauty of the Pergola and Hill Gardens, Hampstead Heath— but between the shapes, colors, and surrounding architecture, this is quite the lovely area. One thing to note: there are gates between gardens which do not mean you cannot enter and are easy to open.

The gardens are set on a hill so the elevation gives a great shot of the city in the distance as well as other vantages of the surrounding area. On the downside, this means that the park is a bit hilly so be ready for the incline.

If you are traveling with younger children, there is also an area with animals you can look over and a museum which has been listed as one of the highest rated, unseen spots in London. With its extensive collection covering music, natural history, and anthropology, it’s one of the parts of this sight I wish I had managed to hit.

One last stop for this sight, again mostly for photo-bugs, is the beautiful conservatory building set near the park café. This area was empty when I visited but it is still an amazing shot.

My original plan for the day was to hit these two parks which are a fairly easy walk away from each other (about half an hour) if you do not get lost…. Which I did on the way back. There is also a bus route that runs between these spots and makes the trip easy if you don’t mind spending a little bit of money.

The Ruins. Sydenham Hill Wood. November 2015.

Dulwich Park was a nice walk through but there were some great views through the pass of Sydenham Hill Wood. There are some picturesque ruins and bridges but remember, parts of the park are closed which made this a much longer walk between Crystal Palace Park and The Horniman Gardens.

Again if you are looking for some nice views, especially if you have kids who need to get out of the city, these are a few spots and a day out of the grey, which I really recommend.

So, until next time and a little more green,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Long Green (Chain) Walks…