Richmond is one of those pockets of London that really makes you appreciate how much the city has to offer. A ten minute train journey from Clapham Junction takes you to the heart of this leafy town, with some of the best parks in the country practically on your doorstep.
I came out of the station around midday on a Saturday, mildly hungover as per any weekend, craving a coffee. Now this is an unsurprising statement for your usual hungover twenty-something, but for me, a coffee is a treat. I stopped drinking the stuff at the beginning of the year after getting fed up with the swings in energy it gave me, and now only dabble in a decaf from time to time.
Almost next to the train station is a fantastic coffee shop called Butter Beans. I was inspired to check it out by seeing a sign up on the wall by the entrance: “Be Nice or Leave”. A sign I am all so familiar with having had it up in my uni living room for almost a year, it being stolen by a good friend Alice Brown and then returned to the then-left-occupants of 51 Thornville Road some three years later. And it didn’t disappoint. The variety of drinks this place serves up, with impressive coffee art at affordable prices, is fantastic! I could easily spend an afternoon on a laptop blogging the world away in this place. I need to learn coffee art one day…add that to the list.
Apparently it does great food as well! But for my scoff, I decided to explore a little further. Touring the area local to the station, down a small side street near Richmond Green, I stumbled across a small place selling a food I’d never heard of. The place was Changos and the food was Empandanas, mini bread parcels that are filled with meat or veg hailed from Argentina. To the unknown bystander, they might look like mini cornish pasties or maybe mini calzones. But these guys need no comparison and are simply excellent in their own right. I went for a chicken filled version, but since finding out they have a stall at the St Katherine’s Dock farmers market I’ve probably tried all they have to offer and am yet to find one I don’t like. So moreish!
Onto the parks I went…it would be rude not to. I had it in my head that I wanted to see a deer. Now don’t be fooled, if you want to see a deer DO NOT head to the Old Deer Park. As far as I can tell this contained no deer. Just a nice lido and a Fitness First. Make your way to the obvious Richmond Park, and on your way walk along the Thames and up through the Terrace Gardens for a belter of a view.
Richmond Park is enormous. Be prepared, you will be walking for hours. I walked in through the entrance on Queen’s Road and made my way to Pen’s Pond. Walking down Sawyers Hill, you get an excellent view of the City in the far distance, reminding you that you’re not too far from the smog, but far enough to be able to breathe a bit clearer.
I found it pretty easy to get lost. I don’t know if that’s something to say of my navigation skills or simply the size of the place, but I found myself in the middle of vast woodland, in knee deep shrubbery and walking along a very lonely pathway. But if you’ve got enough battery to at least load the location of the water on Google Maps then head there and you’re winning. There are plenty of areas round Pen Pond’s to spread your blanket, chill out and crack on with a book.
After diving through a few chapters of Child 44 leaning on a tree (great book by the way), I made my way to the Isabella Plantation, where I met my first horned fellows. A herd of probably 30-40 deer grazing on some grass either side of a pathway were right in front of me, with another herd of humans spectating on the pathway, watching them eat dinner. It was fantastic! Probably the largest herd of animals I’ve seen in the wild other than unforgivable pigeons. Very majestic looking animals, even with grass stuck in their antlers!
I ended up walking right the way through the park to Kingston on the other side, my tired legs telling me to call it a day. But Richmond will see me again, and with one of my good friends recently moving down the road, it gives me more reasons to get Empandanas!