I grew up in Patcham a small area of Brighton, possibly as far from the sea as you can get and still officially be in Brighton. It’s perfect, 15 minutes to the beach and 10 minutes to the Downs, so it’s always easy to escape; go for a walk down the seafront or to spend an hour watching the paraglider’s up on Devils Dyke. I know London apparently has more parks and green spaces than any other major city, but going for a walk around Nunhead Cemetery or Hampstead heath doesn’t quite feel the same as escaping to the country. Living in the capital definitely has it’s perks but sometimes I just need a bit of head space and respite from the city and to be surrounded by greenery with no distant rumble of traffic in the background. Hence why a couple of weeks ago, suffering from the Jan-Feb blues B and I decided we needed some time out and visited Kew Gardens. Although I spent three years of my life living nearby in Kingston I’d never actually been. I warn you now this is an extremely photo heavy post. I spent a good hour or so narrowing down my selection as far as I have and there’s still way too many – but what the heck.
We arrived around lunchtime, catching the overground across from Clapham. Literally as soon as you step off the platform it feels like your in a small rural town with leafy streets and beautiful Georgian houses. Selecting a few pastries and a coffee from the market right outside the station, we sauntered down to Kew Gardens. It was my favourite kind of day, a still, clear blue sky, a warm sun but slightly crisp. We managed to time our visit with the Orchid exhibition, which was on from February through to March, it was pretty snazzy. A weird amalgamation of floristry and landscaping – plants suspended from the ceiling, growing through trellises to form bizarre sculptures. All to capture the vibrance of Brazils carnival season.
Mine and B’s favourites were obviously the cactus/succulent conservatory and the Palm House. The latter of which is massive, it’s an old victorian conservatory packed full of every type of tropical plant you can imagine. There’s something so impressive about seeing the beautiful Victorian architecture against all the foliage. It’s like some mini enclosed ecosystem with the steamed up windows and the whistling of robins and blackbirds, who I assume have taken refuge in there over the winter. Not only does it have a small aquarium underneath but it also has two spiral staircases which take you up onto the canopy walkway.
Whilst we absolutely loved the conservatories, they were pretty rammed so we spent the afternoon wandering the grounds and feeding all the waterfowl. Although we live together it’s not often B & I can just walk and talk aimlessly without any of the usual distractions. To be honest I kind of wish we had got there sooner, its so big and we barely managed to get round half of it before the sun began to set – although I did (much to his resentment) manage to coax B up onto the 60 foot high treetop walkway.