9 In Life in London

Wild Deer & Fresh Air in London’s Richmond Park

I often miss the simplicity of childhood, being able to meet friends with a few minutes of walking rather than an hour trekking across the city after a month of advance planning. I miss sitting on the steps as the sun goes down, sipping on dye-filled icy watermelon Slush Puppies and gossiping about what happened at school that day, whether the boys we had crushes on liked us back and other topics we thought were of utmost importance.

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

We played sports back then without labeling them “exercise”, without thinking of them as something we have to do to stay fit. Now, you announce, “I’m going running!” and then spend the set amount of time wishing you were finished, wondering if it’s making any difference and coming home to shower – to complete the process.

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

We ate without thinking about calories or if what was going into our bodies was healthy or if it would later make us feel bloated or give us a sugar high. Put a dessert menu in front of us and there was no umm-ing and aww-ing over whether we could fit it in; we always did.

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

We fell asleep when we fell asleep, often pushing as much as we could to stay up later so we didn’t miss anything. Sleep was the bane of our existence. Now we’re set in such a routine that a lot of us crash by 11:30 and wake up on the dot at 7am, even on weekends.

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

We didn’t make mental notes to build mindfulness into our days, to make sure we remembered to take in the smells and sounds around us. Instead, we just did. Noting and appreciating – being in awe of the world around us just came naturally, unprompted by blog posts and the latest research on how to reduce stress.

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

And then we went to high school and university and we got jobs and responsibilities. Expectations increased, pressure to be “successful” – whatever that means – increased. We suddenly had rent, bills, college loans, relationships, gym passes, grocery lists and too-busy schedules. And then the nostalgia for the simple life once we saw how complicated it had all become.

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

I think the closest I ever feel to having that simplicity back is when I’m in nature, when there’s fresh air to breathe, when it’s possible to shift to do lists away from the forefront of the mind, when it smells of soil and moss and evergreen trees.

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Not long ago, I walked to Richmond Park in South West London. I left the house at 7am on a Saturday and walked three hours until I reached one of the city’s biggest green spaces. And then I walked for hours along the trails.

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

I found myself face to face with wild deer – in awe as they stared at me with their wide eyes and incredible antlers and then went back to munching on grass.

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

I found myself standing in open expanses of fields, not another human in sight, no concrete or red busses or noise apart from an occasional plane swooping down toward Heathrow, the rustle of squirrels scurrying over dried leaves, the persistent buzzing of crickets and the chirping of birds.

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

It was hot. The sun beat down on a proper summer day. I walked along the dusty trails, watched horses trot by kicking up rust-coloured clouds with their powerful hooves, watched dogs rolling in the grass for a back scratch, bellies up.

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

I strolled through the Isabella Plantation in the corner of the park, admiring plants I can never seem to name, sitting on secluded benches, watching fish swim together at the bottom of shallow ponds, ducks dipping under the surface, blue dragonflies flitting among the reeds.

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond is the largest of London’s 8 royal parks and the biggest enclosed space in London. It’s a hilly park full of grasslands, gardens, ancient oak trees, over 1,000 species of beetles and 630 deer. You could spend days lost in there.

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Richmond Park, London, by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

We’re lucky, because London does have a lot of parks, green spaces, inviting places to escape the city and re-connect with nature. And if we can’t fully re-experience the simplicity of life in the way we did as children (and let’s face it, those bright pink “watermelon” slushies probably are best left in the past), at least there’s Richmond Park, right?

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    ramblingmads
    July 29, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Richmond Park is gorgeous. We used to spend most of the summer at my Nan’s near the sister park, Bushy, and just played all summer long.

    • Reply
      littleobservationist
      July 31, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      Wow, lucky! I haven’t been to Bushy Park yet but maybe that’s the next one to explore. I recently stumbled on some photos and it looks lovely.

      • Reply
        ramblingmads
        July 31, 2015 at 2:51 pm

        It is, last time we were there a stag invaded the car park bellowing. Incredible sight.

  • Reply
    Marta G (A Bilingual BAby)
    July 29, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    I miss London! I can’t wait to go and visit this park, it’s just so incredible to have this in the middle of a city!
    Best regards from Barcelona,
    Marta

    • Reply
      littleobservationist
      July 31, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      Aw, yes, London is amazing for its parks. I know Barcelona doesn’t have so much green space. We’re really lucky here! Hope you can come back soon 🙂

  • Reply
    Kristin Sadler
    July 29, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    This post brought a sense of calm just while reading it. What a beautiful and peaceful place to spend some time away from all the hustle and bustle.

  • Reply
    Diana Mieczan
    July 30, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Ah, those were the days, indeed! Richmond Park is so special and I’m going to spend my whole day now daydreaming about it:) Kisses, love.

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