February 2016 Around London

Tower Bridge London

While I am still counting down the days until spring and restless for some warmer weather and longer days, I’ve come to appreciate our outdoor excursions even with the chilly temperatures. We had a rough start to the month with all of us suffering with the flu, but it wasn’t long until we were back to exploring London.

In this monthly series, I’ll be sharing a round up of places we visited in and around London. You can also follow along with more updates over on Instagram at @piccoloexplorer.

Orchids Festival at Kew Gardens, Kew

Visiting the Orchids Festival at Kew Gardens was a treat to the senses after spending over a week stuck at home recovering from the cold. The exhibit (running until 6 March) promised an escape from the winter blues and it delivered with vibrant colors and beautifully put together displays of tropical flora, celebrating Brazil’s diverse plant life with a lively Carnival theme. Among the displays were orchids suspended from the ceiling…

Orchids Festival at Kew Gardens

And beautifully decorated floral dancers in the pond. I enjoyed the exhibition and on top of that, it was a lovely sunny day so we could enjoy some time around Kew Gardens, spotting the daffodils and getting some much needed fresh air.

Orchids Festival at Kew Gardens

Claremont Landscape Garden (National Trust), Esher, Surrey

We visited Claremont Landscape Garden during half term when I wanted to avoid the crowded local attractions and soft play centres and going to this National Trust site in Surrey was perfect. It was certainly busy and took a while to find parking, but once we were walking around the grounds, we weren’t ever crowded or rushed. We had a great time here enjoying the outdoors.

Claremont Landscape Garden, National Trust, Esher Surrey

Claremont Landscape Garden, National Trust, Esher Surrey

ZSL London Zoo

The London Zoo is a quick drive for us via the A40 and there’s free parking for members, so we’ve been visiting pretty often and making the most of my annual ZSL membership (entry is free for children under 3). This time around, we walked around the aquarium and reptile house, watched the tigers and, on the way out, stopped by to see the penguins.

London Zoo - Reptile House

Tower of London and Tower Bridge

We were heading into the City to pick up Mr. G from work one Friday evening (to go to dinner at the Street Feast Hawker House in Canada Water), so I decided to get to the area early and do some sight-seeing with Little T. We went for a walk around the Tower of London and then along the Embankment for the views of Tower Bridge. Seeing the iconic sights and beautiful views of London along the river never gets old.

Tower of London

Tower Bridge London

Cliveden (National Trust), Taplow, Buckinghamshire

I don’t want to play favorites so early on in my National Trust membership but I was blown away by Cliveden, which is just over half an hour from where we live. It was an impromptu decision to go there and I loved it, the natural beauty of the countryside, peaceful woodlands, stunning gardens, a riverside estate. We only managed to see a small part of it and I’m looking forward to going back to explore the rest.

Water Garden at Cliveden National Trust

Storybook Playground at Cliveden National Trust

Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House, Chiswick

This past weekend we went to the Magical Lantern Festival, an installation of beautifully hand-sculpted life-size and giant lanterns in the gardens of Chiswick House that is running until the end of this week (6 March). I booked the tickets earlier in the month and it’s definitely worth the visit! We went at 1815 on Saturday and there was a long queue to get in, but it started moving along fairly quickly and soon we were winding our way down the 75 minute trail lined with these stunning creations.

Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House

We took a break along the way for some roasted marshmallows, which was a nice treat! I don’t even remember the last time I had marshmallows. We were chilly too and it felt good to stop and warm up by the fire pit.

Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House

The brilliant lanterns were truly magical to see, lighting up the gardens and reflecting their colors in the water, designed in forms from animals and birds to buildings and abstract designs, including several celebrating the Chinese New Year. Little T was enchanted by it all, especially the playful displays of animals and birds.

Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House

Daunts Books, Marylebone

Daunts Books is my favorite bookshop in London, I used to walk over to the Fulham Road branch all the time. I’ve always enjoyed browsing the selection they have by country and would always discover great travel writing, guidebooks and historical fiction to read ahead of an upcoming trip. I brought Little T to the original Edwardian store in Marylebone to look for books for our trip to Prague.


I managed to pick a couple books from their selection on the Czech Republic, to help plan our trip and read up on the city’s history. I tried to also look for our summer holiday but that was pushing my luck. Although he loves books and flipping through his new finds, it goes without saying that visiting a bookshop with a toddler is not the leisurely affair it once was!

Travel Guides for Prague

We had many grey, cold and dreary days this past month but I keep reminding myself that spring is just around the corner! It wasn’t until my adult years that I lived in a place where you really experience the changing of the seasons (that was Boston and the winter there was a shock for both of us!) and I love the anticipation for spring, for the warmer weather, the longer days, the vibrant colors, the feeling of rebirth. Trees have started to blossom around London throughout the month and I’ve been picking up colorful flowers from the local stands to brighten up our home.


Wheelers of Turnham Green flower stand

Titiana's Garden, Marylebone

Coming up in March

It may have been cold and dreary February but I feel like we managed to still find plenty of color along the way! This month, I’m looking forward to our city break to Prague, spending the Easter holiday in Fano, exploring the countryside and seeing more beautiful flowers blossoming around London.


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