Reviews

A Spring Afternoon at Kew

17202751_10154911894355155_1682161644392342623_n

Every weekend I try to do something a bit different in London. I’ve lived here almost three years having moved for work from Essex, and in the early days it was easy to just let the weekend become engulfed by hangovers, lounging around and not doing much at all. Don’t get me wrong, I do do this sometimes, but each weekend I try and do something a little bit different too. Shopping in a different part of London, visiting a new food market, seeing a new exhibition. There’s so much to do in London, it’s very easy to become a tourist in your own city. 

On what felt like the first day of Spring (when you can get away with not wearing a coat you’re onto a winner), we decided a trip to Kew Gardens was needed. I’ve wanted to visit for a long while, but either the weather hasn’t been right or I haven’t felt in the mood to get all the way West.  With the weather on our side, the hour’s journey across town didn’t seem too bad. In reality if you’re travelling anywhere within London, you’re usually expecting just under an hour, so in all it wasn’t too far. If you love plants as much as I do, it’s worth it.

On arrival at Kew Gardens station (end of the District Line), I knew this was my kind of place. It was quiet, homes were beautiful, and nearby shops sold plants by the bucket load. It didn’t feel like London. I find a lot of places are like this. You’d be surprised how peaceful London can be. 

17203124_10154911894080155_1465587072230405938_n

17265063_10154911893645155_3669805840756660453_n

17273190_10154918672720155_217096210_o

17202944_10154911893995155_6309398278271845904_n

Just a short walk from the station down a tree lined road, you’ll find the entrance to Kew. I’d suggest booking online if you can as you save a couple of quid, but we paid £15 on the door for an adult ticket. Considering how big the place is, it’s worth the money. 

Walking across the green by a huge lake I was quick to spot the Palm House, which resembles a giant avery like something out of Jurassic Park. It was the place I was most excited about seeing. As you step inside you’re engulfed by a wave of humidity, essential to keep the temperatures level for be plants. Looking up and you won’t have seen anything quite like it. Species of palms, trees and plants weave through the tropical conservatory. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. 

17203233_10154911894275155_7948604345247794729_n

17273767_10154918679660155_1048876210_o

To get a little steamier, and see even better views of the Palm House, two small white twisting staircases either end take you up and down. Up to the very very top. There you can walk around the top of the conservatory and look down at the jungle below. Be warned though, it’s sweaty. The feeling when leaving the Palm House was that of an exasperated gasp of breath as you’re reintroduced to normal UK temperatures. It was still my favourite part of the whole gardens. You can’t beat that peaceful stillness. 

17270309_10154918672700155_898192572_n

17268941_10154918679795155_1069200636_o

17269042_10154918679950155_1505821765_o

17202751_10154911894355155_1682161644392342623_n

17155601_10154911894140155_2114571977426322115_n

17265159_10154911894000155_2985846847259238183_n

17191156_10154911893935155_3537223879645483089_n

The newest installation is The Hive. Designed as a multi sensory experience it’s such a detailed piece of work, connecting to senses from every angle and showcasing the amazing life of bees. At the bottom of the installation it encourages you to feel the sound waves of the hive, but through vibrations in your mouth. Switching off your other sense, using a stick (this is much easier to explain if you see the diagram) which you place in your mouth, when you connect to the installation, you hear bees working through the vibrations.

17155834_10154911894385155_8049995584297309163_n

17264536_10154911894410155_4756307207946838618_n

17191244_10154911894585155_4858217683496226785_n

The multi award-winning Hive, which has been a part of Kew since 2016, was inspired by scientific research into the health of honeybees. It is a visual symbol of the pollinators’ role in feeding the planet and the challenges facing bees today. It was fascinating, and all ages seemed mesmerised.

Next we made our way to The Princess of Wales conservatory with multi rooms, filled with very different plant life. The temperature of each room was adapted to the conditions needed by those particular plants. These included a cacti and succulent room, a pond with lily pads and a beautiful sky installation of flying orchards.

17201141_10154911893795155_8353694051056039664_n

17264163_10154911894810155_298440000086125754_n

17264466_10154911894850155_4905247738225413481_n

17200868_10154911894920155_3715280562576670197_n

17200973_10154911895035155_4447552098125812212_n

17264610_10154911895175155_1532152851325910490_n

17103474_10154911895405155_8964850405765568740_n

17200865_10154911895410155_6141629150088956006_n

17201261_10154911895455155_1696614533570272310_n

17203184_10154911895675155_8103903546677214484_n

GLUTEN FREE FOOD

Now it’s about time I touch on the food, seeing as it would be wrong not to! Me being me had to suss out what was available. A park picnic from home was not gonna cut it. I wanted to see what Kew had to offer for allergies.

I have some mixed feedback. I did get to eat, in fact I had a very nice lunch, but it wasn’t so simply. We headed The Orangery, having not pre planned lunch. It was more, “I’m hungry, oh look let’s go there,” type vibe. The food looked gorgeous but panic set in as it was, a little bit ‘cross contamination city!’ You know the feeling. I went round in circles trying to find something labelled but was struggling. I eventually came across a gluten free brownie (actually much better tasting than most typical GF brownies) and a GF biscuit. The were covered with a film and slightly elevated, away from the standard cakes, which set my heart rate back to normal.

I managed to find a member of staff to explain. She said I could have the roast dinner without the gravy and elements to elements to the salad bar. Not great when the salad was self service and roast served in the open amongst yorkshire puddings. She could sense my concern, and said a chef could prepare me gluten free salad in the kitchen, away from double- dipped spoons. It was lovely, and filled with spicy chickpeas, carrot, cucumber and pomegranate seeds. It was a nice touch and really kind of her.

17311573_10154918670975155_322169925_o

Going forward for Kew, I’d suggest they make up some gluten free sandwiches with GF bread, and clearly label that GF salads can be made up on request, should you wish. The food was really nice, but just not as smooth running an experience as it could have been. It may be best to come prepared with a few snacks just in case, but don’t let this hinder your visit. Kew is beautiful with or without gluten free food.

TAP ON THE LINE

We finished our day in the local Fuller’s pub by the station, Tap On The Line. It may sound biased, but I really do love Fullers’ pubs. When first working for clients London Pride and Frontier within my day job in advertising I never realised how unique and interesting each of their pubs could be. 

17269946_10154918672730155_1537158451_o

17310678_10154918672715155_1988508884_o

Tap On The Line just by Kew Gardens station, was great for a quick drink or two after our day out. The whole pub is filled with botanicals and a hell of a lot of character, and so perfect after a day at Kew. I only wish we’d have hung on and enjoyed a pub lunch, which we looked on at so enviously as plates were brought out under our noses.

One thing we forgot to do was the Tree Top Walk, which I’m a little bit gutted about! Because of this, and because I need the excuse to return, I feel one visit to Kew isn’t enough, and as I write this, am already planning to go back again. Perhaps next time I’ll swing by the Tap for some pub lunch.

Facebook Comments

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply