Richmond Park in the Winter

Sometimes, the best part about living in London is its outskirts, the fringes of chaotic cosmopolitan life where open spaces invite early morning walks and wildlife flourishes.

Richard Fisher woke up early and walked through Richmond Park at dawn to shoot these stunning photos below.

It’s hard to believe that not so far away cars were rushing through Earl’s Court, crowded buses barging through Piccadilly Circus and the patter of city worker’s shoes were clicking through the tube tunnels in a rush to the office.

Yet here, in these calming scenes, there’s a slow awakening, a misty chill of morning air and the curiosity of a stag gazing out among the trees.

Richmond Park at dawn

Red deer stag

 

Hope you all have a relaxing week! Stop to enjoy the little things.

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Guest Post: 5 Unique Free London Activities

Written by Yuli Linssen-Kaminitz. Yuli is originally from Israel but has been living in Holland for the last couple of years with her Dutch husband. London has always seemed to her like a tempting place to run away to which might have to do with the fact that her mother used to live here when she was the same age as Yuli is today…

London is one of the most vibrant cities in Europe with an unlimited number of museums, more than 100 theaters, the famous royal family, numerous vintage shops and of course Kate Moss. Even though London attracts more than 27 million tourists a year, many people from outside Europe still find it an extremely expensive destination to visit.

In order to make life easier for those of you who cannot afford to go to on a shopping spree or watch three theatre shows in a row, here are my top 5 free things to do in the city:

1. Speakers’ corner
Cumberland Gate Park Lane, North East corner of Hyde Park, London W1K 7TY, United Kingdom – 07533 098 035
Open Sun 12pm-7:30pm

Not only this attraction is free of charge, it is also worth visiting regardless! Where else would you be able to listen to extremely passionate people talking about their beliefs, ideas, conspiracy theories and rough opinions?  In 1872, Parliament decided to allow public speaking in the north-eastern corner of London’s Hyde Park. People from all over the country gathered to raise their important issues – the main discussions were: politics, religion, the economic situation and more. Until this day, every Sunday you will be able to witness people standing on small chairs in Hyde Park and lecturing the crowd.

2. Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill, Primrose Hill Road, Primrose Hill, NW3 3NA

This is the perfect spot to chill out, have a pleasant picnic and watch the spectacular sunset. Located in the north side of Regent’s Park, Primrose hill not only offers the most magnificent view of the city, the district which surrounds it is full of cozy cafes, trendy restaurants, tiny pubs and shopping streets. Start your day with getting a tan in the sun and finish it with a glass of wine. There is even a chance you will come across a celebrity such as Gwen Stefani, Jude Law and Ewan McGregor; all of them are extremely fond of this place.

3. National Theatre Square
South Bank, London, SE1 9PX

The National Theatre Square offers three different vast auditoriums where more than 20 productions are being played per year!  Even though most of the shows do cost money to enter, you would be pleasantly surprise to discover how many free performances are offered monthly. During the whole summer until September 26 you will be able to enjoy for free the spectacular outdoor theatre- “Watch This Space Festival”. This wonderful event includes: extraordinary circus, brilliant dancers, acrobatic performances and many more.

4. Richmond Park
Holly Lodge TW10 5HS

Richmond Park is located in Richmond, West London. It is extremely hard to believe that such an astonishingly beautiful nature area is just 12 miles away from central London! This breathtaking Royal Park is the biggest in London; it covers 2,500 acres of complete beauty and total freedom for the wild animals. Walking there, witnessing the deer running free and listening to the sound of birds, will make you feel like you are not in the UK but in a far away country which words cannot describe how striking is it.

5. Sunday UpMarket and the Backyard Market
Ely’s Yard (entrances on Brick Lane & Hanbury Street), The Old Truman Brewery London E1

Both of these markets are sort of hidden hotspots in the city. They are quite alternative and most of the people there are locals. The Backyard market, (open Sunday from 11am till 6pm and Saturday from 10am to 5pm) offers exceptional fashion from young, talented and upcoming designers. Even though the stalls do not offer free treats, you will surly enjoy strolling around and be inspired by the fashion forward clothes, one of a kind jewellery and the distinctive arts & craft treasures. The Sunday UpMarket which is located right next to the Backyard Market is similar with its unique fashion items, funky vibe and colorfulness. The major point of distinction from its neighboring market is the famous food area: Tempting cupcakes, Turkish and Moroccan homemade delicious meals, Spanish paellas, sushi and many more! The best part is: free tasting is offered to everyone!

Yuli works for EasyToBook.com, which specializes in discount rates on hotels all over the world that range from simple motels all the way up to celebrated 5-star venues. For more information about hotels in London, visit their site.

Listen to a Londoner: Janine Clements

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you want to be interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk. Always looking for new volunteers.

Janine Clements, 37

Janine Clements is a freelance journalist, travel expert and mummy blogger who has been living in London for 12 years. She has lived in Holloway, Maida Vale, Westminster and now Fulham, where she has lived for four years with her husband and 2-year-old daughter.    

LLO: Living in London for 12 years, what are the best and worst changes you’ve seen in the city?
JC:
 The increase in gun and knife crime and scary dogs, but better transport facilities and better shopping with the arrival of Westfield. All the attractions have definitely become much better at catering for young children.    

LLO: Top three favourite things about living in Fulham?
JC:
Lots to do for children (e.g. Fulham Palace, Coffee and Crayons, Gambados, various parks). It’s got great pubs such as The White Horse and The Sands End. There are lots of families around so there is a real community feel.    

LLO: Tell us a bit about your blog http://21stcenturymummy.com.
JC:
My inspiration from my blog came from the fact I love writing. I decided to set up a blog that was an account of my take on life as a modern-day mum, as my daughter, who is two, grows up (and I grow older!). I also wanted to help other mums by providing useful information, advice and opinions, reviews and an insight into parenthood for other people to read. My blog covers everything from news and reviews of the latest products to family travel.  

LLO: Do you think London is a child-friendly city and why (or if not, what would make it more so)?
JC:
London is an exciting and vibrant city, and yes, I think most parts are very child-friendly, there’s so much to do for all age groups.  

LLO: If I had one day in London and wanted to explore the bits that don’t show up in the guidebooks, where would you recommend?
JC:
The parks are all fabulous. I love Holland Park, St. James Park and Kensington Palace Gardens. Battersea Park Zoo is fun for younger kids.

LLO: As a travel enthusiast, have you found a place in London you can go to feel like you’ve travelled without actually having left the city?
JC:
I’ve always been a big fan of Little Venice and its waterways and canal boats. It is so peaceful and very different from inner London. Or further out is Richmond Park, acres upon acres of parkland and loads of deer. 

LLO: What’s your favourite kid-friendly restaurant in London and another one you love when you’ve got a child-free night out?
JC:
Konnigans in Wandsworth is great for brunch. It’s got a relaxed atmosphere, good food and great kid’s menu. For the two of us it would be Tsunami, a fabulous Japanese restaurant. There’s one near Tottenham Court Road and another in Clapham.

LLO: Do you have any advice for travelling mums about to pop over to London for a week with the kids?
JC:
There are so many things for kids. Popular things to do include Buckingham Palace, the London Aquarium, and the Science Museum. Depending on the age of your kids, a West End show is a great idea. Hamleys or the toy shop at Harrods is also fun. When it’s sunny, the parks are fabulous too.

LLO: Favourite London discovery or a place you’ve heard is really cool but haven’t had a chance to check it out yet?
JC:
I’ve heard the Victoria and Albert Museum is great for kids, but I haven’t been yet.

LLO: Describe your perfect Spring Saturday in London.
JC:
Head outdoors if it’s sunny, so my 2-year-old can run around and burn off some energy. Somewhere like Fulham Palace or Cannzaro House (in Wimbledon) or Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park. Each has a nice cafe to grab lunch at too.

Thanks Janine!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here. 

Listen to a Londoner: Marguerite O’sullivan

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you want to be interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk. Always looking for new volunteers.

Marguerite O’sullivan with daughter Zia

Marguerite O’sullivan lives in West Kensington with her 4-year-old daughter Zia.
She is currently a freelance writer and publishes her own blog Mythreefootstylist.

LLO: What brought you to London three years ago?
MO:
I came over from Australia with my daughter to accompany my then partner who was working on a UK film project.

LLO: You recently completed a voluntary internship with the award-winning GAIL’s Bread, one of the few remaining independent bread shops in the UK. Why should we stop in? What have they got to offer?
MO:
Wow, that is a hard one; there are so many delicious treats on offer! If I really had to choose it would definitely be GAIL’s amazing chocolate brownies. I would recommend anyone to stop by GAIL’s to experience true artisan food that not only tastes great but (because it’s all handmade and free from all the nasty stuff) is healthy too.

LLO: What are your other favourite independent shops in London?
MO:
Their Nibs is great for stylish children’s clothing; Yates Buchanan has great vintage accessories; The Cloth Shop has the most unusual array of contemporary and vintage European textiles.

LLO: Tell us about your blog, My Three Foot Stylist.
MO:
I’ve always had an interest in design, textiles and style which I inherited from my mother; because I also have an interest in scribing, it seemed natural to put the two together in a blog. I gave it that title because my 4-year-old daughter has taken to styling me each morning!

LLO: What’s the best thing about living in your postcode?
MO:
The gorgeous parks, including Holland Park and Kensington Gardens, the child-friendly cafes and the quirky shops.

LLO: Who are your favourite London-based designers?
MO:
Margo, which is  great for stylish but original pieces; Petra Boase, for eclectic framed prints and T-shirts; Stella McCartney, whose current line of children’s clothes for GAP is stylish yet affordable.

LLO: Describe your perfect London day.
MO:
I’d start by heading to GAIL’s on Portobello Rd for a dairy-free muffin and fresh OJ; I’d then wander down to Portobello Green market to nab a bargain. Weather permitting; I’d then make my way to Grand Union canal for a leisurely walk towards the gorgeous Cafe de Ville restaurant in Little Venice where I would stop for a light supper as the sun sets.

LLO: Working in the food industry, can you recommend a few favourite London restaurants?
MO:
If I had my choice I would eat at L’etranger every week, but with a 4-year-old child to cater for, my usual haunts are GBK and Prezzo because of their wonderful children’s offerings.

LLO: What’s your favourite London discovery?
MO:
The little park and stream near Station Road in Barnes.

LLO: If I had one day in London and wanted to wander off the beaten path, where would you send me?
MO:
I would direct you to Richmond Park for a spot of deer spotting followed by a picnic at Pen Ponds.

Thanks Marguerite!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

Listen to a Londoner: Sasha

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview post with people who live (or have lived for a while) in London. If you fit the bill and want to be interviewed, give me a shout at littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk. Always looking for new volunteers. 

“Sasha”, early 30s

“Sasha” is in her early thirties and writes The Happiness Project London anonymously.  The HPL encourages Londoners to live their lives by a set of rules shown to improve happiness; including being active, connecting with family and friends, doing charitable acts and learning new things. 

LLO: How long have you lived in London?
Sasha:
About seven years with a brief sojourn to Prague in the middle.

LLO: Tell us a bit about The Happiness Project London.
Sasha: 
It started out as a “make the most of London” blog to inspire myself and my friends to try new restaurants, exhibitions, gigs.  I love giving recommendations and finding new things to do, so it allows me to express my interests and enthusiasm, and put all my suggestions in one place.  However, the thing most Londoners lack is free time so I try not to overload people with what’s on.  Even visiting a new restaurant or pub once a month would fit into the HPL rules.  Oh and I try not to blog about places I don’t like and only focus on the positive.  

The blog developed when I went to Turkey during Ramadan and spoke to a man who told me how fasting had made him feel closer to his family and friends, and charitable towards those who were hungry.  Even though it was hard, he felt happier for doing it.  I thought about London, and how we live a rather selfish life, and decided to add a charitable element to my blog – doing things for others to feel truly happy.  So, it became The Happiness Project London.

LLO: Have you found a place in London – other than your home – that always makes you happy?
Sasha:
The view from Waterloo bridge at any time of the day or night.  I try to stop there, take it all in, and have a “London moment”. 

LLO: You’re also a budding photographer. Share a photo with us?
Sasha:
My problem is I don’t take enough time over photos which is why they are all blurry.  But anyway here’s one of a bus thundering past outside Liverpool Street and my beloved but underplayed trombone.

LLO: One of your Happiness Project rules is to keep active. Do you have a favourite gym or park for workouts?
Sasha:
I hate the cold, so in winter, I either go to the gym, do yoga or play hockey in Battersea Park.  In summer, London’s best asset is its many parks – I love playing tennis in Brockwell Park with its views over the City, or cycling to somewhere like Richmond Park.  I have an old-fashioned ladies bike with wicker basket, which makes me sit up tall and take in the sights.

LLO: In another rule, you recommend taking classes or attending talks or exhibitions. Have you found any unique classes worth taking or know of any upcoming talks or exhibitions you could recommend?
Sasha: 
City Lit has great and cheap classes – everything from jewellery-making to history of art.  I’d like to do an arts and crafts course because I’m fidgety and it would occupy my mind better than TV. 

Otherwise, the Van Gogh exhibition at the Royal Academy is definitely worth visiting; the British Museum has some great free events and I’m hoping to watch some Mexican guitar there this month; and the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum is always great – especially late night Fridays where you can drink wine under the dinosaur skeleton afterwards.

LLO: Are you still on a quest for the perfect burger in London? What’s the best you’ve found so far?
Sasha:
Hell yes.  I love burgers; have to have at least one a month.  I’ve tried about four or five since the quest started, mostly in pubs and once at McDos, but have not found anything great enough to write about yet.  My list of places to try is huge thanks to comments from people visiting the blog, worrying as I’ve put on half a stone since writing about food.  I’ve heard a lot about Byron and I’d also love to try a posh burger at the American Bar in the Stafford hotel in Mayfair.

LLO: If I only had one night in London, where would you tell me to eat dinner and then go for drinks?
Sasha: 
Great Queen Street or the Anchor & Hope serve wonderfully simple hearty British food like pheasant, duck or beef – it’s what I imagine people eating during a hunting weekend in the 19th century.  Or if you want to see London’s upmarket cooking at its best, I’d direct you to Chez Bruce, a Galvin restaurant, Pied A Terre or the Wolseley. 

Although I’m partial to the odd martini, my favourite places to drink are comfy old men’s pubs, so I’d suggest you try something like the Prince Regent in Herne Hill, the French House in Soho, or The Scolt Head in Dalston.

LLO: Will you share three of your favourite London blogs or websites?
Sasha:
The London Foodie (http://www.thelondonfoodie.co.uk/) has a wonderfully positive attitude to life and food and is a great supporter of my blog.  Urban Junkies and Le Cool are great for suggesting exciting things to try (although my main problem is finding free time in my diary). 

LLO: Describe a perfect day in London
Sasha: 
It’s a summer Sunday, about 30 degrees.  I start with coffee at Opus on Acre Lane or at Rosie’s in Brixton market.  I text my friends, none of whom are busy.  We arrange to meet at Brockwell Park or Clapham Common, someone brings a Frisbee and another a big blanket.  We sit and drink ciders and chat until later on when we go to a nice old man’s pub with a beer garden to eat burgers, chips and coleslaw – The Landor or The Coach and Horses.  Finally, we watch some live music – perhaps at The Windmill in Brixton or Cargo in Shoreditch. 

Thanks Sasha!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.