Ten Reasons To Love Richmond

richmond_logo_newRecently I’ve been doing a lot of travelling, and that means I’ve spent more time outside the Borough than normal.
They say that distance makes the hard grow fonder, so here i am, sitting on a plane 30,000 feet over somewhere irrelevant, thinking about ten great things that make Richmond special.
And in no particular order.
  • Kew Gardens and Hampton Court Palace.  Two of the UK’s greatest national treasures.  I’ve been known to complain about the cost of food and entry – surely we should get a local residents discount just like they do at Disneyland – but they are both amazing places to wander around.  One of the world’s important collections of plants and the palace of many monarchs including Henry VIII who probably had more impact than any other,
  • Good food.  There are so many good restaurants in the area, across all the major cuisines, and many of the less popular ones too.  In the last six months I’ve eaten at award winning French, Thai, Indian and ‘British’ dining rooms – and not been disappointed.  Very few areas have this wealth of options.
  • Rugby.  Not just Twickenham Stadium, the home of the national team, but a significant number of excellent rugby clubs from London Scottish and London Welsh through to our high profile rugby union and league teams at The Stoop – the Harlequins and Broncos.  And if you don’t like rugby there’s plenty of cricket, golf, tennis and football – not to mention world class training facilities such as St Mary’s University.
  • Local shopping.  With rents continually rising it’s clearly a struggle for many of our independent retailers, but we still have some excellent local specialists from butchers and bakers through to fashion and bookstores.  And if you support them they will remain on our high streets.
  • Summer Fairs.  It doesn’t matter where you live in the Borough it seems that there’s a summer fair on the village green or in the high street.  Stalls, food, drink, pony rides, farm animals, rides for kids and the joy of anticipating a winning raffle ticket.  And the month-long Twickenham Festival isn’t bad either.
  • Music.  We have a huge pop/rock musical heritage between Eel Pie Island, the Crawdaddy Club and Olympic Studios but there’s also a thriving a jazz scene (with of course the Strawberry Hill Jazz Festival) and multiple outdoor concerts from Twickenham Stadium to Kew Gardens, Marble Hill Park and the new Hampton Pool music festival.
  • Parks and playgrounds.  As a parent, I love that we have so many great outdoor spaces to let the kids play, for free.  It’s easy to remember the headline acts like Richmond Park, Marble Hill Park, Bushy Park, the many Greens and Barnes Common… But we also have more than our share of great playgrounds that are well maintained and frequently improved.
  • Pubs and bars. Although the climate for pubs seems as challenging as it is for local shops, we still have a plethora of excellent watering holes for all occasions.  Not just your classic British pub  (and there are plenty with long histories).  Wine and cocktail bars in Richmond, Real Ale houses across the Borough and of course many gastro pubs.
  • The Thames. Following on from the previous point, a pint by the River is always welcome on a balmy summer afternoon but The Thames uniquely splits our Borough in two, giving us twice as much waterfront.  River cruises, sailing clubs, rowing and even a couple of small ferries!
  • Tourism.  A strange thing to mention as a positive?  There are a huge number of tourists drawn to Richmond Borough for all the reasons above and more, and everyone of them spends money here – helping our local economy.  And rugby days aside, they seem pretty well behaved and appreciative of our home.  At least they cause less annoyance than the flight path, and we get nothing from that.
No list can be perfect, and this has just rolled off my fingers on to the keyboard without any great planning, but if there are really great things I’ve missed, leave a comment!