Monday, June 20, 2011

Things to do in London #3 - Boat trip to Kew Gardens

We decided that we wanted to go on a boat trip along the Thames as this was something, although I had grown up in London, I had never done.  Our first idea was to to go to Hampton Court, but due to lack of research and Planning we were too late for the only boat of the day.  So we decided on Kew Gardens as the boat was leaving in 1/2 hour and anyway Kew would be a nice respite from Urban London.

Nancy waiting for the boat to start
The boat left from just below Westminster bridge opposite the London Eye, they seemed to be about every 2 hours, though the time varied based on the tides.  I did not realize how tidal the Thames is in London, but the time we were going the tide was very low and many boats were high and dry.

The first part of the trip takes you past many London land marks ably pointed out by our skipper, but further down the river you come across more and more large modern developments taking advantage of the river view.

Then past those we went along the route of the annual Oxford and Cambridge rowing race and in to a more rural landscape. There were some beautiful old houses with their gardens stretching down to the water as well as quite a few house boats.

The trip was about 2 hours and a little chilly in the breeze so we were glad to land at Kew and solid ground.  The weather was sunny with white fluffy cloud, lovely weather for a walk around the Gardens. The gardens are about a 10 minute walk from the boat and the route is well sign posted.

Kew gardens is famous for its glass houses and and Arboretum.  Sadly in October 1987 there was a hurricane that destroyed about a third of the mature trees at Kew, but as we wandered around the gardens there many trees that have been planted in the last 24 years that are filling the gaps.

The Palm house built in 1844

There is the iconic Palm house which I remember visiting as a child, but was closed the afternoon we were there. The Temperate house after extensive restoration was open.

The Temperate house build 1897 
We wandered around it marveling at the plants as well as the amazing building, the Temperate house is the largest surviving Victorian Glass structure and is quite spectacular.

Inside the Temperate house
There is also a modern glass house The Princess of Wales Conservatory which though opened by Diana Princess of wales in 1987 actually commemorates Princess Augusta who married Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1736 and who founded the Gardens.

The Princess of Wales Conservatory
The roof lines were quite striking and is also very interesting to walk through.  My favourite part of the gardens was the rose garden.

I wish you could smell this
My mother loved roses and had a small rose garden outside our Kitchen window. She prized roses more for their smell than their beauty, so I smelt all the beautiful roses and thought of my Mother and how much she would have enjoyed this.

A rose arbour
Looking up at the rose arbour
After several hours of enjoying (and photographing) the gardens we decided to take the train back.  This was much faster than the boat and anyway we had already seen the route.  The train station was just a short walk over a bridge and we zipped back in to central London.

Again with out much forethought or planning (we needed you Connie) we decided to go to the theatre, and with only 2 hours to curtain time we entered a ticket booth on Leicester Square for last minute tickets.  Our third choice was available for $45.00, The Jersey Boys.  After a quick bite to eat at Neals Yard we enjoyed the energetic musical story of Frankie Valli at the Prince Edward theatre.   The music was good and well performed not a great musical like Les Miserable but most enjoyable.

All in all a full day, even though we did not get an early start or any planning.

1 comment:

  1. That should have been your pic in the boat....silly. You're the happy author.
    Nice write up.