For when all this crazyness passes
You could never get bored in London. Even if it’s your 265th visit, and you think you’ve seen and done it all there will always be lesser known, unusual and quirky things to do in the UK capital.
Where else can you see slightly inaccurate dinosaur statues, climb the roof of an arena, visit an underground Roman temple or dine in a tube carriage?
While there’s a lot of nice walking routes that are accessible by public transport, ones that you can get to on just one train are rather scarce from my station. In previous years, I’ve walked most of the sections of the Green Chain Route in South East London, so with those out of the way, I’ve started to look further afield, on areas between the Blackfriars and Sevenoaks Thameslink/Southeastern Train Line, which runs from central London south-east out towards Kent.
So far I’ve been to several areas along the Blackfriars-Sevenoaks line and am hoping to get to explore more especially next spring, when the paths are drier, there’s a little more sun and the trees have leaves again.
Kent Walks near South East London
Shoreham to Otford Walk
Shoreham to Otford – or vice versa – is perfect for a bit of meandering. Not far from London, but it does give you the feeling of being in the countryside. It has hills, cottages and lots of dogs. You can also make a stop at the Hop Farm year-round for some fresh produce and cute little gifts. In summer, you’ll find a famous lavender field here and in autumn you can pick apples in a special orchard. Speaking of fruit, there’s also lots of blackberry bushes along the way. You can also visit the historic Lullingstone Castle & Gardens, the even older Lullingstone Roman Villa and gaze in awe at the rather incredible Eynsford Viaduct.
Trainstop: Shoreham or Otford
A Walk Around Petts Wood and Hawkwood
You can’t go wrong with taking a stroll through the varied landscape of Petts Wood and Hawkwood, with heather, farmland and woodland all on offer. And the best thing is that all of this can be found just in Zone 5! In late summer you can enjoy the heather in bloom, while later in autumn you return to see the colours change. And most importantly, in October and November, you’ll find chestnuts, lots of chestnuts! What’s nice is that it’s not too busy, so you can get a bit lost!
Trainstop: St. Mary Cray or Bickley (or Petts Wood on another line)
Beckenham Place Park to Crystal Palace
You can take a walk around Beckenham Place Park, have a drink at the park café or take a peek inside the grand Beckenham Place Mansion. And when the weather allows, perhaps even take a dip in the swimming lake.
If you want to extend your outing, add on a walk from Beckenham Place Park to the Crystal Palace section of the Green Chain Walk. This 3.9 miles/6.3 km section takes you from Beckenham Hill Park via Cator Park all the way to Crystal Palace Park – where you can enjoy the collection of 1850s dinosaur sculptures, a challenging maze and the station cafe with the best millionaire’s shortbread in London. And yeah, it might be less green than some of the other sections of the Green Chain, but it’s still nicer than the local parks you’ve over-explored in the last 12 months.
Trainstop: Beckenham Hill / Ravensbourne
Walk The Waterlink Way
The Waterlink Way winds through 8 miles of parks and green spaces in SE London. If you get off at Crofton Park you can combine it with a walk around Brockwell and Ladywell Cemetery and Hilly Fields before heading down to Ladywell Fields and following the Pool and Ravensbourne rivers south for some stunning views, street art and the riverside. Alternatively, go to Bellingham and explore the whole Waterlink Way section to Greenwich.
Trainstop: Crofton Park, Catford or Bellingham
Nunhead Cemetery Walk
Take a wander through one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries in London with its impressive church ruins and hidden walking paths and trails. You can keep it to a walk around the cemetery, but can also go a bit further checking out nearby Camberwell Old Cemetery, or instead by joining the Green Chain Walk route to Crystal Palace Park via The Horniman Museum and Gardens, which is one of my all-time favourite routes on that major walking network.
Western Loop of The Jubilee Walkway
The Western Loop section of the Jubilee Walkway is the perfect circular walk to explore central London’s top attractions: the 9.5 kilometre route takes you from Tate Modern to Freemason’s Hall and Big Ben. All you have to do is follow the Jubilee Walkway discs on the pavement as you go round – and once things are back to normal remember to look up from the discs occasionally to avoid bumping into people!
Other South of the River London Walks
It was only a matter of time, this second lockdown. I’m in a very different state of mind this time around and feeling very restless. The last time we were entering spring and daylight saving time was coming up and spring had just welcomed us. This time there is just darkness – though these first few days have been warmer.
But let’s not get too down on ourselves. To keep the positivity flowing, I’ve made a list of things to keep me busy in-between working and crying this November.
Bake Dutch Spice Nuts
The only good thing that comes with the Dutch Sinterklaas are the kruidnoten, literally translated as ‘spice nuts’, they are small, round-shaped cookies spiced up with anise, cinnamon, and cloves and are they are the best boost during the cold months so I can only imagine they’ll be more than welcome this season. I usually get them from the Netherlands, but this year I want to attempt to bake them myself.
Keep myself busy with Crafternoons
I still have some clay left from the Sculpd set I bought earlier this year and have been wanting to give some clay wall art a go. And maybe some Christmas ornaments too if I’m feeling particularly creative. There’s also a Studio Ghibli origami kit I need to make some time for.
Kick off Christmas movies season
While we’re on the Christmas topic … I don’t think I can wait for December to start watching cheesy Christmas movies. In preparation, I have a whole back catalogue of Hallmark Christmas movies ready to be caught up on before Netflix drops their releases.
Make the most out of my Mubi trial
Of course, I’m going to have to give my brain a cleanse from those Hallmark movies with some foreign and art house films. And that’s perfect in time for my Mubi trial – they select a number of movies each week so it’s easier to pick from a shortlist than endlessly scrolling and wondering what to watch.
Walk around the neighbourhood again
I’ve been neglecting my lunchtime walks the last few months, but I really need to make an effort. To push myself a bit more I want to turn it into a challenge, so I stick to it through these cold, wet and windy afternoons.
Roast and boil sweet chestnuts
A few weekends ago I foraged sweet chestnuts I stumbled upon on a walk and now they’ve dried I’m going to boil half of them and roast the other half. Picking them, roasting or boiling and then de-shelling is quite a meditative process so that will help me kill an evening or two. People have suggested baking them in a cake or making marron glaces, but the roasted sweet chestnuts are my favourite snack and I don’t know how I feel about experimenting yet.
Make Clay Masks
I don’t know if it’s the seasons changing, stress rising or dietary reasons, but my skin has been playing up and could definitely use some extra care. I’ve been meaning to make clay a mask that will help rejuvenate it back to a happier state.
Create A Dedicated Home Office Corner
The only thing I brought home from the office was my laptop. Over the months I’ve collected a riser, extra monitor, keyboard, mouse and even an office chair. It still doesn’t feel right where it is at the moment, so I need to find a new corner and move all of my stuff there.
Has some sort of lockdown been announced in your country? How are you planning to get through?
As you can imagine, so far I haven’t been able to cross off going to a football game, taking that sleeper train or watching Eurovision in the Netherlands from my 2020 to-do list. But I have managed to cross off 10 things that I’m quite proud of.
Go To The Tower of London – I DID IT! I finally went to the Tower of London! Only 14 years after seeing it from afar for the first time, but it was long due and I’m so happy I got to explore the grounds and learn more about the history of my all-time favourite London landmark.
Go To The Andy Warhol Retrospective @ Tate Modern – I also went to the Andy Warhol Retrospective back when the museum re-opened in August. The exhibition itself did not wow me, but it was interesting to walk around in an almost empty Tate and its Turbine Hall.
Go Glamping Or Stay In A Tiny House – When I was in the Netherlands I did stay in an alternative accommodation, but I don’t think it was alternative enough. It has taken me a long time to find a place that meets all of my requirements, but I have finally found a tiny house I can reach via public transport. It’s only booked for February 2021, but who knows where we’ll all be then.
On top of that, there’s some that I already covered in my last update, but as they are something I’m working on all year round I’m including an update on them too.
Make The Most Of My 2 For 1 Railcard – My 2 for 1 card expired but I have been exploring little villages just outside London. The big highlight so far was the charming village of Shoreham in Kent. It’s not too far from the Pick Your Own Apple orchard and their Lavender Field that you must have seen on your Instagram feed.
Brush Up On My French 101 – I’m level 12 on Duolingo and have been getting stuck into an audio course. In the coming months I want to watch French movies or TV shows – and no Emily In Paris doesn’t count.
Add New Recipes To My Go-To List – Thanks to the Green Roasting Tin, I’ve discovered a delicious fennel and brussel sprouts bake that I want to add to my weekly recipe list.
Wear All Of My Unworn Clothes – I’m trying to wear all the clothes I own. Sure I can try them on briefly, but wearing them throughout the day works much better. I have lots of vintage that don’t get enough wears and by using them all I hope to find the ones that aren’t for me and sell it on and try to make someone else happy.
Keep A Plant Or Vegetable Alive – Sure, I did drown my green beans and let insects take over my pak choi, but I did grow a few tomatoes, some dill, coriander, rosemary and basil. I mentioned the fern in my last update and happy to report it’s still alive and has been joined by a little succulent and a pilea. I also have a monstera cutting that has grown roots and a second leaf. So excited to see where it goes next.
While I don’t think I’ll be completing any other things from the list, I’m very pleased with the things I got to see and do. I might move some of the remaining things to my 21 for 2021, but on one side it feels like cursing it and on the other side I’d like to have some things to look forward to.
Here I am with another post on a dusty old house. I didn’t think I’d get into visiting historic houses and manors around the city until I was well into my retirement years. But I guess there is a 65-year-old in me that wants to go out now and explore them all. Plus who knows where I or the houses will be by the time I get to pension age!
I visited Osterley Park and House during its low season, which meant only one part of the house was open and the gardens were out of bloom. Still there was enough to explore and the park itself is lovely for a walk.
Originally built as a Tudor house in the 1570s, it was acquired by a rich banker in 1713, who saw it as the perfect way to impress and show off to his friends, enemies and clients. His grandson got Robert Adam (the go-to neoclassical architect, interior designer and furniture designer of the 18th century) to remodel and transform Osterley into the impressive neo-classical country estate we can still explore today
As mentioned, only four rooms were open during my visit and one of those was the entrance hall that was used to welcome the above mentioned friends and clients to dinners, parties and balls and a slap to the face of the enemies. It probably also reminded those lucky enough to enter that they’d never attain this level of wealth.
The house has also been used as filming location for shows and movies since the 1940s and you might have seen it in Young Victoria, Mansfield Park or Alan Partridge. But I mainly recognised it as Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan filmed quite a few scenes there, including the library with the secret door / book cabinet that leads to the secret Bat Cave.
The impressing continues with the formal garden with a number of little nooks. There is the Tudor Walled vegetable garden, the most adorable Garden House filled with all the Instagram friendly plants and a floral garden that must have been perfect to parade around.
While I did see a lot I still want to go back during the high season to explore The Long Gallery, The Tapestry Room and the Kitchen.
Osterley Park & House is a 20-minute walk from Osterley Underground Station on the Piccadilly Line.