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Family days exploring London for free!

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Who did we think we were?

22 Oct 2014

By Margie Skinner


I stepped out with my sister Rose for a couple of days in Richmond, Surrey, to explore some family history.  We were excited about visiting a part of greater London that we don’t know at all.

We met in central London and decided to go and see the Tower Poppies before heading further west.  Despite rain and blustery wind we were suitably impressed by this incredible tribute.   Given the purpose of our mini break it seemed appropriate to be part of a crowd that was looking back at the lives of others, and perhaps trying to find a message for the future therein.

Richmond had lots to offer, but we managed to blinker ourselves to the Siren call of the many posh shops, and focused first on finding the grave of our Great Grandmother, and her daughter, who had died at a very young age.  Rose had the cemetery reference, and  a photo of the gravestone, but even so it took quite a while to find;  no-one had told us there are two Richmond cemeteries (old and ‘new’) , adjoining, and with the same lettering/numbering system!  But the weather was sunny, the surroundings beautiful and we managed, as usual, to find sisterly humour in the most inappropriate of places!

After paying our respects we took a ‘short cut’ across the beautiful Richmond Park.  We didn’t see any deer but there was lots of birdlife, and several of what appeared to Rose and me to be a very strange breed; ladies jogging.  

We left the park and soon found ourselves viewing the quite stunning Vale of Petersham.  A photo opportunity if ever there was one.

Back in Richmond itself one of the surprises was quite how many planes flew overhead, and just how low they seemed to be flying!  You felt you could reach up and touch them, and I was sure I saw George Clooney waving at me from one of the windows.   He seemed to be mouthing ‘It should have been you!’…

We wanted to find out where our family had lived so we presented ourselves at the Records library.  The staff were helpful, the resources plentiful and the charges….non-existent!  We spent a happy couple of hours looking at microfiche of old newspapers, and comparing old maps to new – again with the help of the staff there.  How lucky we are in this country to have such facilities readily available!

On Saturday the sun was shining and Kew Gardens was calling.  For me the highlight was the Water Lily House, but we also enjoyed the treetop walk with its nuggets of information on the barrier.

Question: How many acorns does a Jay bury in one winter?  5, 50, 500, 5,000?  Answer at bottom of page.


We left with a lot of unanswered questions, so maybe we will be visiting again – it is certainly a hugely appealing part of London and we would be happy to return.



(Answer: 5,000!!   According to the RSPB ‘most often in natural holes, under leaf litter and crevices in tree bark)