Picnic @ Kew Gardens

We're still avoiding public transport (haven't been on a train or bus since early March at this point 🤯) so after getting an invite to see some friends we ended up walking to, around, and from Kew Gardens – about 11km all-in-all, we reckon. Definitely going to feel that tomorrow! Still, we found a really nice new route, not much longer than our usual trek but a little more scenic and less busy; actually, we technically found two, so doubly-good going. Why go out and back two different ways? Snoggy's, of course 😏 Not being able to get to biltong has been another of the negative side effects of the pandemic (albeit an extremely first-world-problem one) so we took the opportunity to swing by, pick up some of their original recipe, a six-pack of Windhoek, and a large bag of Simba chutney crisps... 🤤

Kew are operating ticketed entry with time slots (like a lot of places, you have to enter during a specific window but can then stay until they close). Due to the slightly unusual route, we arrived a little late, but still had over 30 minutes on our slot so joined a queue at the Lion Gate without any worries. Ten minutes later, having moved maybe four metres, we began to get a little nervous, but the sign said we were able to enter here and plenty of other people obviously thought this made sense... Another five minutes passed until we gave up and speed-walked to the middle Victoria Gate, to find a much larger queue that was happily moving much more quickly. We were technically through the gates before our slot expired, but then found an internal queue, though no one seemed to mind we were technically a few minutes over our entry time when we finally reached the front. Phew!

The nearly-45 minute queue aside, Kew was pleasantly empty. We'd agreed to meet up with Becky and Diego after they got in at 2pm, so went and found a food stall, grabbed a hot dog, and found a quiet spot to place the picnic blanket. The hot dog was delicious, the chips too, and even if the Windhoek was a little warm from the walk the overall vibe felt pleasantly South African. Alison even tried ketchup and didn't hate it... le shock! 🙀

We spent the next few hours alternating between exploring the park and catching up over socially-distanced picnics. Biltong was shared and reciprocated with some excellent Tesco chocolate orange cookies, more Windhoek was drank, we took a one-way-only stroll through the Temperate House, and even had a great sighting of a green woodpecker thanks to Becky's sharp eyes (plus some super-weird hitchhiking beetle larvae type thing 😁). Somehow the afternoon turned into early evening, all the cafés closed, and we ended up briefly sheltering under a large pine from an out-of-character squall (the tree was large enough to allow for more picnic blankets, chatting, and beer too, so we barely noticed the weather) before saying adios and starting the long trek home, this time via a stretch of the Thames path we haven't done before. What a pleasant day 🥾🌳🌭👋

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