A favorite place to spend a London summer’s day is Richmond where as well as green grass to lie on and trees to shade under, you get glorious riverfront to stroll beside and a gorgeous village feel with meandering narrow streets lined by cafes, bookshops and clothing stores. Once the site of a royal palace, Richmond has been a favorite place for both royalty and us commoners to get away from the crowded city center for centuries. An easy train ride (or a more leisurely and scenic boat cruise) from central London, once you reach Richmond, have a wander and admire the historic buildings – perhaps see a play at Richmond Theatre – then head for the village green and the river. Just below Richmond Bridge is a place hiring rowing boats – there are even men there shaping the wood and building new boats; a rare sight to see these old crafts in action. Also under the bridge is Tide Tables café; on a nice day take your coffee and cake outside under the trees beside the river and watch the world float by. Or hire a bicycle and ride along the river. Just a little further upstream there are parks and meadows where you can stop for a picnic, and not far along at Petersham is a farm to make you feel really outside the city. Stop for a cup of tea at the rustic Petersham Nursery. Or continue down to historic Ham House. Just across the road here – beyond the large and exclusive homes – is Richmond Park, 2360 acres of park and wilderness and grazing deer (that’s three times the size of New York’s Central Park).
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