STAFF / EUROPE / Interesting Towns / THE UK

Kingston Upon Thames: escape the hustle and bustle of London

Text & photos © Estrella Azul.

AS YOU MAY KNOW from my previous travel article, How to not over-pack luggage when traveling for both work and fun, I visited London for the first time last year.

The company I am outsourced to since I started working as a technical writer is based in the small town of Kingston Upon Thames in the county of Surrey, a 30-40 minute train ride from London’s Waterloo Station.

All Saints Church

All Saints Church

The evening I arrived an accident had airport traffic at a standstill. I waited for my cab for over an hour and a half. My plane had arrived early, so by the time the cab finally reached the airport I was thinking, Oh my gosh, they forgot about me. How will I get to the hotel? The driver excused himself even though none of it was his fault.

The drive to the hotel was otherwise really nice. We passed through the town of Richmond, and through Richmond Park, which was beautiful and green. I was sorry I didn’t get a chance to visit it.

The drive through Richmond Park

The drive through Richmond Park

The Kingston Lodge Hotel where I stayed was really cute, cozy and clean. I loved it! Not being paid out of my own pocket aside, I still recommend it for anyone looking to stay in Kingston.

It has a very pretty courtyard garden one can walk out on and even dine alfresco style on their restaurant terrace. The birds were chirping in the trees above, and squirrels were playing around the water fountain one morning.

The courtyard garden at Kingston Lodge Hotel

The courtyard garden at Kingston Lodge Hotel

All my walking to and from work was worth it. I found some of the most interesting things, such as art in unusual places. I tried to find out more about this instance (see below), but all I came across was the statement that they’re the “unplanned and randomly added to decorations on a temporary fence around Kingston Hospital on Kingston Hill, Surrey.”

Decorations on a temporary fence around Kingston Hospital on Kingston Hill

Decorations on a temporary fence around Kingston Hospital on Kingston Hill

The only time I didn’t take photos during my walks was when I was arriving back to my hotel room past 11PM each night—and only because it was too dark to take good pictures.

Everyday Church and a Jo Malone shop next to each other

Everyday Church and a Jo Malone shop next to each other

If you take a stroll on Skerne Road and turn onto Canbury Passage, you’ll see the most amazing mosaic walls. From what I understood, it was one of Save the World Club’s community-based mosaic projects promoting volunteering, art, local heritage and improving the quality of local spaces such as these walls.

Save the World Club's art on the walls of Canbury Passage

Save the World Club’s art on the walls of Canbury Passage

During my lunch breaks I found the perfect pastime: strolling down the quiet, small and cute streets near the office building taking pictures. The famous English charm is everywhere you look in Kingston. It can be noticed in the smallest of details, everything from fragrant camellias and lavender blooming in front yards, to intricate cast-iron gates, tiny doors, heart-shaped wreaths on doors and ivy-covered walls.

English charm all around.

English charm all around

We had a long lunch break with a colleague from work one day and she showed me around downtown Kingston. She’s the one who pointed out the innovative chewing gum solution I wrote about a few weeks ago here on Milliver’s Travels.

She also made sure to take me by the “Out of Order” sculpture, which consists of 12 disused red telephone boxes, tipped and leaning against one another to resemble tumbling dominoes.

Red telephone box art

Red telephone box art

We walked past the Market Place—which hosts two permanent markets and a number of regular visiting ones—followed narrow streets, and passed a mix of architectural styles, including Victorian and Edwardian period buildings.

There's plenty on offer at Market Place

There’s plenty on offer at Market Place

Charming mix of old and new

Charming mix of old and new

We went all the way to the Thames, on the bank of the Hogsmill River flowing under Clattern Bridge.

I had breakfast one morning sitting on the riverbank at the confluence of Hogsmill and Thames. I was in awe of the beautiful swans gracefully floating near me. They seemed quite accustomed to people being so close to them.

Hogsmill River from various angles

Hogsmill River from various angles

Not even half of the swans present on the Thames that morning

Not even half of the swans present on the Thames that morning

One evening, after visiting Hampton Court Palace and Grounds, and during my search for somewhere to eat dinner, I came upon Canbury Gardens overlooking riverside homes with rustic cottage charm. I could just imagine their gracious sun-filled living rooms with wood-burning fireplaces to curl up in front of with a good book. Or enjoying privacy and sunsets from one’s very own dock on the waterfront when not in the mood to go boating.

Cute English houses with their own docs across from Canbury Gardens

Cute English houses with their own docks across from Canbury Gardens

Canbury Gardens - should I take the walking, cycling or fishing path?

Canbury Gardens – should I take the walking/cycling or fishing path?

Even though I had a few days’ stay in the UK, being from Europe I did not get used to which way I was supposed to look to cross the road. I constantly waited for buses on the wrong side of the street, I managed to overlook the button labeled “Push to open door” and I rode an extra stop on the train to then have to cross to the other side and ride one stop back to my station. I still have no idea which penny is which.

Yet, I loved every minute of it and I consider Kingston the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of London.


Estrella in the Greek Amphitheatre ruins, Taormina, Sicily

Estrella Azul is a young emerging writer, passionate about reading, floral art and photography, with an artistic personality and a soulful outlook on life. She is a Hungarian girl living and writing from Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the capital of historical region Transylvania. Estrella is our European correspondent, she currently serves as the photo editor here at Milliver’s Travels, and she dreams of embarking on a round-the-world trip. To read more of her creative writing, her thoughts and daily happenings, visit Life’s a stage – WebBlog©. Read more of her stories on Milliver’s Travels by visiting Estrella’s story index.

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  1. After watching Anthony Bourdain’s episode last night in which he visited London, and now reading your post, it makes me want to go back to London so badly. I loved London. Fortunately we are going back but not until next June! And we will be with a tour group so I’m not sure we’ll be allowed to wander off and visit the places you suggest.

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. I especially loved the pictures of the English charm.

    • I don’t watch Anthony Bourdain, but glad to hear there’s an episode of his where he visits London. It really is a beautiful city, and one of the friendliest I’ve ever been to.

      Thank you so much for your comment, it makes me happy that you’re going back next June. I’m sure it’ll be wonderful, even if you’ll be with a tour group. You might get to walk into museums, something I wish I could’ve done myself. Here’s hoping for next time!

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