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Last week, my post was Bath in England as a jet-lag recovery stop for trips to Europe. Heather wrote about her experience seeing Sufragette among an audience that didn’t fully get it. Sim continued her imaginary journey walking the London Underground with a visit to Richmond Park to see the deer.

As I wrote last week, I’m thinking about what to do for the first four days or so of our next trip to Europe while we’re getting over jet lag. My current fantasy is a quick taxi ride from Heathrow to Kew, an outer suburb of London that is the home of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

photo of wisteria on the Japanese Bridge

Wisteria on the Japanese Bridge in Monet’s Garden at Giverny

Our first two visits to Europe were tours with the Missouri Botanical Garden to Ireland and France. So, it’s startling that we didn’t make it to Kew during our self-guided trip to England in 2014. By starting there, I’ll guarantee to remedy that source of embarrassment.

Where would we stay?

My first thought was “someplace with a kitchen” because it would be nice to pick up something quick at a grocery and reheat it for supper — especially those first few days when we won’t have the energy to appreciate good food anyway. But the place I found that met that criteria, Clarendon House, doesn’t have a reception desk according to one of the Trip Advisor comments. That will be unworkable on the first day when we’re likely to arrive at some ungodly hour in the morning and need a place to stow our luggage for the day until our room is ready.

So, I’m currently considering The Coach and Horses, a pub with bedrooms. We surely won’t starve if we’re staying above a pub. And, there are mini bars in the rooms, so we might be able to pull off a meal of cheese and crackers once or twice. Note that I haven’t checked the price yet. My rule for fantasy itineraries is that price is no object. (Well, I usually avoid places like The Savoy that I know will be far outside the range). I’ll pick and choose later in the process based on what seems worth the cost.

With a place to stay picked out, I’m ready to devise my itinerary for the first four days.

Day 1.

  • Take a taxi from Heathrow to The Coach and Horses.
  • Check-in to The Coach and Horses with the expectation that our room won’t be ready but they will happily stow our luggage for us for the day.
  • Walk over to the Victoria Gate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Take the tram tour to get oriented. Take the docent-led walking tour at 11:30am or 1pm.
  • Eat lunch at one of the four eating places in Kew. I suspect one of the casual cafés might best suit our jet-lagged mood.
  • Leave Kew via the Elizabeth Gate so that we get a bit more oriented as we go back to the Coach and Horses for supper and an early bed time.

Day 2.

This is the day that I imagine we’ll focus on photography at Kew. I’m disappointed that the Temperate House, the largest surviving Victorian glasshouse in the world, will be closed for renovation during our visit. But, who knows, that might give us the opportunity to take interesting photos of renovators. Meanwhile, we’ll have to make do with the Palm House, considered “to be the most important surviving Victorian iron and glass structure in the world.”

Check out this two-minute video for more of the things we’ll likely see at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew:

If we’re interested in the topic, we’ll take the themed walking tour at noon (this month it’s about Kew in wartime – I would love that!)

Day 3.

Steam engine replica

Working replica of the world’s first steam engine. The original was built in 1712 by Thomas Newcomen less than a mile from the Black Country Living Museum.

Visit the London Museum of Water and Steam, about a 15-minute walk from The Coach and Horses, just on the other side of the Thames. I’m a little surprised I didn’t know about this museum before our last trip given how much we focused on steam engines. This museum houses a large collection of pumping engines, with working demonstrations on weekends (which may affect the day we choose to go there).

Day 4.

This will depend on our mood. If we’re feeling adventurous, we can take a day trip to Hampton Court by boat, taxi, or bus. Alternatively, we could visit Richmond Park to say ‘cheers’ to Sim’s deer and to see the view from King Henry’s Mound. Or, we might decide that we aren’t done with the Royal Botanic Gardens yet and head back there for a more in-depth visit.

What are your suggestions for things to see and do around Kew?


Four Days in Kew #BriFri — 7 Comments

  1. That sounds like a wonderful trip to see the botanical gardens. That’s a dream of mine, there is so much to see in London and a week there wouldn’t even cover the possibilities!

    I like your idea staying in a place where there is a kitchen. When we visited England & Ireland past trips we rented cottages and spoked out to see particular attractions or sights. A kitchen allows you to control your diet & not eat out as much.

  2. I’m afraid Thanksgiving put a damper on my wanderings but as I was planning on going to Kew Gardens anyway, I may just wait until next week. Or I may still post later today. That’s the thing about imaginary journeys, you take them on your schedule. I was trying to decide where to stay as well, my choice being between The Horse and Coach and the Kew Garden Hotel.
    Today’s #BriFri post is from my book-to-movie website, a look at The Winters Tale currently running in London.

  3. How about Chiswick House and Gardens?
    The house was built in 1729 and is one of the best neo-Palladian houses in the country. The restored gardens are where the English Landscape Movement began and inspired, for example, Central Park in New York. It’s very near Kew, 12 mins by bike from the Coach and Horses!

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