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Once you enter the grounds of Eltham Palace, you’ll find it hard to believe you’re still in Zone 3 of central London. It’s by far Greenwich’s best kept secret and well worth a jaunt if you want to escape the city and enjoy the palace’s serene gardens and beautiful architecture.

Originally a moated medieval palace, the place is steeped in history and over the years has served various purposes. In the 1400s Henry VIII even grew up there with his siblings, but more recently it was home to a 1930’s multi-millionaire, making the palace a complete mash-up of different eras. Stephen and Virginia Courtauld acquired the lease in 1933 and renovated the house to suit the art deco tastes of the time. Thankfully they kept the original great hall in all its glory.

Whilst the building is beautiful, my favourite part was exploring the gardens surrounding the palace. The grounds are very well kept and you’ll find lots of little hidden away areas to explore – it has a bit of a secret garden feel to it. There’s also a pond with some of the biggest Koi Carps I’ve ever seen in my life, a beautiful rock garden, as well as acres of fields full of wildflowers. It’s safe to say there are definitely lots of picnic spots!

Eltham Palace has a brilliant guided tour you can listen to through a headset (included in your ticket price). I’m not usually one for using these as I like to explore at my own pace, but the one at Eltham was particularly brilliant.

English Heritage really have done a fantastic job and I’d highly recommend to a visit if you ever get the chance!

Top tips //

  • Take a picnic! We wanted to go for a pub lunch afterwards, but couldn’t really find anywhere nearby that looked decent. There’s a restaurant at the front of the palace housed in a pretty greenhouse. Plus, there’s also a much quieter eating area in the orangery (at the back of the great hall) where you can get cakes, scones and hot and cold drinks.
  • Go explore the gardens and surroundings. As mentioned above, there are lots of little hidden alleyways. You don’t have to stick rigidly to the guide.
  • Speaking of guides, make sure you get a headset and listen to the tour as you walk around. It’s probably the best one I’ve listened too. Very interesting and not too long either.
  • Make sure you visit the basement that was used as a WW2 bunker. History geeks will be in heaven!

Details //

  • Address: Eltham Palace, Court Yard, Eltham, Greenwich, London, SE9 5QE
  • Tickets: £15 including Gift Aid. Free if you’re a member of English Heritage.
  • Website: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/eltham-palace-and-gardens/
  • Transport: The nearest train station is Mottingham. Trains run from London Bridge roughly every 10 minutes. From there it’s about a 10-minute walk. Alternatively, you can also get the 124, 126, 160 or 161 bus. If you’re coming by car there is a large car park, but use the postcode SE9 5NP if using a Sat Nav.
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If you ever have a few hours spare in London, get yourself up to the Sky Garden for a cocktail, or 3. Located at 20 Fenchurch Street, otherwise known as the walkie talkie building, the Sky Garden offers panoramic views of London from 35 floors up, so is definitely something to add to your London bucket list.

Visiting the Sky Garden is completely free, all you have to do is book online. However, it does tend to get fully booked up at the popular times, as you’d expect. Within the Sky Garden, there’s the Sky Pod Bar (the main part of the Sky Garden where those that have just booked to come to see the views tend to walk around), Darwin’s restaurant and apparently another bar and another restaurant that I’ve not seen. I’ve visited Darwin’s once for work. I’ll be honest and say I thought it was a little style over substance, so save your pennies and have a few drinks in the Sky Pod Bar, then go somewhere else for dinner.

With regards to the Sky Pod Bar, cocktails are around £12 and there’s a service charge too. Nothing crazy given it’s London after all, but something to keep in mind. Most recently I tried the Chelsea Garden – a lovely gin-based cocktail which was delicious and far too easy to drink.

I always say that the Sky Garden is brilliant first date territory – impressive views, good music, and delicious cocktails!

Details:

  • Address: 20 Fenchurch Street, EC3M 8AF
  • Transport: The nearest tube is Monument. Canon Street is the nearest train station and is about a 10-minute walk.
  • Website: http://skygarden.london/
  • Booking: Advised.

 

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Last weekend Joe, my brother Tom and I climbed the O2. I bought it as a little present to them both, Tom for his birthday and Joe for getting a new job recently. It’s always been something I wanted to do seeing as it’s so close to where we live in Greenwich, so last Saturday we headed down to North Greenwich.

You start off with a quick briefing where you’re talked through the structure of the O2, a bit about its history and shown a walk-through of the actual climb. Next you get all your gear. I’d advise against wearing a skirt/dress because of the harness you put on – not flattering and most likely you’ll flash everyone too! You also get either a boiler suit or gillet (depending on the time of year you climb), a safety chain/lock that attaches to the front of your harness and climbing shoes – bring socks! You climb the O2 in groups of around 15, with the whole experience lasting around 90 minutes.

The walk up itself is quite steep at some points (the highest incline is 30°) and if you’re scared of heights (the highest point is 52 metres) then it might be one to give a miss. The walkway is made of fabric and feels almost like a trampoline. It’s very bouncy so if someone in front of you jumps, the whole thing moves! The guide who takes you over advises against this though!

Once you reach the summit there’s an observation platform that gives amazing views of East London. We spotted the Shard, the Olympic Park, the Thames Barrier, Maritime Greenwich, as well as brilliant views of Canary Wharf too.

I loved our climb up the O2 would really recommend it – definitely one to add to your London bucket list! They also do a sunset climb and twilight climb too, both of which sound amazing!

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A short, but sweet post today to tell you about a fantastically brilliant and affordable afternoon tea I recently discovered. Last weekend Joe & I visited The Fan Museum to enjoy afternoon tea at their quaint Orangery. On the edge of Greenwich Park, it’s an unassuming little spot, but as you walk down the steps to the Orangery you’re greeted with a bright and airy room with beautiful hand painted flowers adorning the walls.

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The afternoon itself was cheap and cheerful. At just £8 per person, it’s easily one of the most affordable afternoon tea’s in London. For £8 you got a pot of either tea or coffee, a huge slice of Victoria sponge, scones with clotted cream and jam, then the choice of either a lemon drizzle cake or chocolate brownie. Everything was delicious and considering how close we were to the hustle of bustle of central Greenwich, it was lovely and peaceful.

It’s worth noting that in order to enjoy afternoon tea in the orangery you need to but entrance to the fan museum too. It’s only £4 and it well worth having a look at some of the ornate fans on show.

Well worth a visit if you’re ever having a day trip to Greenwich!

Details:

  • The Fan Museum: https://www.thefanmuseum.org.uk/orangery
  • Address: Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London SE10 8ER
  • Reservations: 020 8305 1441 / [email protected]
  • Price Per Person: £12 including entrance the museum

PS: Scon or scone?

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This weekend my friend Bridget visited, so we decided to tick off one of the items on our London to do list – Columbia Road flower market. Tucked away in east London is a small street where every Sunday a bright and brilliant flower market is on. 
When you see blogs posts and pins of Columbia Road it’s easy to assume it’s a quiet place to meander on a Sunday morning. It could not be more different. It’s packed. I mean seriously packed. You’ll struggle to walk up and down the street in 10 minutes because of the hoards of people that flock here. It’s also worth noting that the flowers aren’t actually that cheap. The most common offer tends to be 3 bunches for a pound, but vendors do tend to drop their prices quite dramatically towards the end of the day.
As well as the flower stalls the road is full of cute boutiques selling everything from crockery and homewares to art. They’re definitely worth a look, provided you can push through the crowds.
My advice for anyone wanting to visit the flower market would be to go either really early, or towards the end of the day. For me personally, I can’t stand the amount of people there; it’s a little overwhelming.
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