London 2017
Tuesday July 25 to Saturday July 29, 2017

Heading to a wedding on the banks of the Thames River

We left home in the evening of Monday July 24 to arrive in London in the morning of Tuesday July 25. This time we booked our flights on Air Canada and opted to fly premium economy - our first time with this class of service on Air Canada if you don't count the budget subsidiary Air Canada Rouge that we had taken on our Mediterranean 2016 flights. It wasn't the best of flights or comfort on the night flight to London. Maybe we should have splurged the extra cost for business class.

With the wedding scheduled to take place in Richmond upon Thames on Friday July 28 we made the decision to arrive a few days early and base ourselves at the wedding venue hotel to relax and enjoy a bit of this part of Greater London before before making our way to Central London after the wedding.

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  • Tuesday July 25, 2017

    Arrival in London & first walk around Richmond

    Our flight arrived on time but there was a delaying getting the airplane to the gate at Heathrow's Terminal 2 and it was a bit disheartening to see a huge line up of people waiting to be processed through passport control. We waited in line for the best part of an hour before a very quick stop at one of the passport control counters and then to pick up our luggage that had already been removed from the luggage carousel.

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      We had booked a limo with a meet and great service in the terminal so that fellow had been waiting just like we had because of the delay. The thoughts of the flight and delays started to evaporate as we sat in the comfy limo on the way to our hotel.

      Our stay was booked at The Bingham Hotel in Richmond, so within about 30 minutes of leaving the airport we were at the doorstep of the hotel. We were very pleasantly surprised to find out that our room was ready when we arrived. We had fully expected to just leave our luggage at the hotel and come back later to check in. We settled into our room and then made our way out to stroll around Richmond. At first glance it certainly appeared to be shaping up to be a very pleasant day so if felt nice as we left the hotel and made our way to walk along the Thames River. We had no particular objective for the stroll beyond getting a bit of exercise after the overnight flight. We walked along the river towards Kew Gardens but decided to turn back before reaching the park - deciding rather to find a spot to grab lunch in town. Part of our decision to not go too far today was the look of the growing dark clouds overhead. Rain was always just a moment away in this part of the world. Following lunch we did walk a bit more around town before heading back to the hotel to relax a bit. The room was definitely comfortable and would suit us just fine for the first four nights of this trip. The wedding on Friday would also be at the hotel and many of the family involved in the wedding would be staying for two nights - arriving on Thursday ahead of the Friday afternoon wedding and checking out on Saturday after the wedding. We'd be transitioning to our hotel in Central London on Saturday as well - but let's not get ahead of the story. Gary spoke with his cousin Nicola by phone while we were back at the hotel and then we made plans for our first evening in Richmond.

      The White Horse - Richmond

      The White Horse - Richmond

      For dinner we were interested in something that would be somewhat casual and we ended up with a great choice for both ambiance and food at The White Horse in Richmond. It is a pub known for serving great food and with it being a Fuller pub it hit another mark with Gary being able to enjoy some of his much loved London Pride ale.

      The whole experience was wonderful and a great first night dinner for this trip. It was a pleasant walk both there and back which also helped us keep moving to ward off the eventual jet lag induced tiredness.

      We decided on a route back to the hotel to make our way to river so that we could stroll along the river in the nice evening conditions. It was peaceful and picturesque with the myriad of lights illuminating the night view. Approaching the hotel from the river side also gave us our first view of the garden and back facade of the hotel. We needed to walk beyond the hotel to the first opportunity to head from the lower riverside to the road where the front access of the hotel was located. On cue, the tiredness hit us as we reached the hotel and it felt good to to be back at the room to close out our first day in Richmond.

  • Wednesday July 26, 2017

    Ham House & Le Salon Privé

    The weather outlook for Wednesday didn't look so great, but we weren't going to let that dampen the day's plans, so to speak. We started with breakfast in the hotel dining room and then made our way into town for a morning stroll and a stop at a nice coffee shop called Coffeeology before making our way to Ham House. We had timed things quite well, with rain falling while we enjoyed our coffees and having stopped as we set back outside again.

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      From Coffeeology we would need to pass the hotel to get to Ham House, so we stopped in the hotel for a quick pit-stop and then set off along the Thames River towards the historic 17th century Stuart house. It was originally built in 1610 and through the century it was transformed by William Murray and his daughter Elizabeth into the example we see today of luxurious 17th century living. Gary had visited the house previously on a business trip in October 2011 but this was a first time visit for Linda.

      Ham House

      Ham House

      It is a wonderful house to tour - with so much to see. We ended up being in there longer than originally anticipated. It had rained some while were inside the house, but had stopped by the time we left the house to take a tour of the beautiful gardens surrounding the house. The only thing that would have enhanced the beauty would have been a blue sky and some sun - but even on the dull grey conditions the gardens looked impressive. We had more or less missed lunch time with the way we had scheduled the day - so following the garden tour we went to The Orangery Café adjacent to the walled kitchen garden for afternoon tea and scones. Very nice way to end the tour of Ham House, indeed. We wandered back along the river to the hotel with a bit of time to relax before getting ready for dinner.

      Our dinner venue for this evening was a restaurant called Le Salon Privé in St Margarets across the river from where we were staying. Just like Ham House, Gary had been to this restaurant on another business trip in November 2011 (in an era when Gary was travelling to Africa via London quite regularly) when it operated under the name Brula but this was a first for Linda. We had a wonderful dinner at Le Salon Privé - the food and service were truly excellent. Very enjoyable. From the restaurant we had a very nice evening walk back to the hotel. Crossing over the Thames River gave us some very nice views of the Richmond riverfront with the buildings lit up for the evening under pleasant conditions. We lingered along the river to enjoy the scenery before returning to Bingham Hotel.

      To close out the day we'd say, upon reflection, the weather though the day had some impact on our itinerary but on balance it turned out to be a very nice and relaxed day in Richmond. We were in full holiday mode.

  • Thursday July 27, 2017

    The Ivy Café & connecting with family

    We switched things up for today by opting to head out for breakfast rather than go to the dining room at Bingham Hotel. Our choice was The Ivy Café Richmond. We'd actually considered dining here while in Richmond but were unable to book a table at a time we liked - so breakfast here seemed like a good idea to check out the restaurant. We did recall that this location used to be an All Bar One on previous visits to Richmond.

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      The Ivy Café Richmond

      The Ivy Café Richmond

      The decor inside was The Ivy was quite impressive, and breakfast was quite lovely with both good service and food. We agreed that it would have been good to try it for dinner. Something for another trip here, perhaps.

      It had been a bit gloomy to start the day, but by the time we had finished breakfast the conditions were definitely improving, We did a bit of shopping in town and then wandered to Richmond Green to enjoy some of the day and watch the activities taking place in the 12 acre square grassland surrounded by nice properties. It is impressive to think of this green standing since the Middle Ages when it was used for jousting tournaments. On a previous walk we had seen the remnants of Henry VII's Richmond Palace Gate House just off one side of the Green - can just imagine how it would have added to the grandeur of the area. No jousting for this day, but it was nice to sit and enjoy the sunny day in a beautiful setting.

      Gary had a hankering for another pint of London Pride, so we went to one of the two pubs on the edge of Richmond Green - The Prince's Head. It and the other pub, The Cricketers, are affiliated with two of the village cricket teams that play on the Green. We picked The Prince's Head primarily because they did serve the aforementioned London Pride.

      Richmond Palace Gate House

      Richmond Palace Gate House

      Even though it was time that we could have had lunch as well but we didn't have a good vibe about it being a place to eat so we settled for a pleasant drink and then moved on. We continued our strolling and shopping following the drink and by the time we figured we should eat something light for a late lunch we made our way to the The White Cross on the riverside and sat outside on the terrace to enjoy a light meal.

      By the time we were done at the White Cross we figured some of Gary's family would be arriving at Bingham Hotel so we walked along the river back to the hotel. Shortly after our return we met up first with Gary's aunt Rose at the hotel bar and slowly the others in the family arrived, included bride-to-be Katy. Clearly Katy and her mom Ashlea had had a much more hectic day than us with their preparations for the wedding - but it appeared they were all starting to relax somewhat in the nice surroundings of the Bingham Hotel bar.

      Ashlea had arranged dinner this evening for a total of nine at No.1 Duke Street - close to the Green. Eight of us were in the bar at the Bingham already - Gary's aunt Rose, uncle Mick, cousin Ashlea and her kids Katy, Tom and Tom's girlfriend Lucy plus the two of us. Gary's cousins Nicola would meet us at the restaurant and check into the hotel later. It was a pleasant stroll to the restaurant and it was a vibrant scene on arrival at No.1 Duke. Groom-to-be Billy also met us at the restaurant for pre-dinner drinks but wasn't staying for dinner. The whole evening was fun - was good to catch up with family and share in the celebration leading up to the wedding. We retraced our steps after dinner back to the hotel to close out the night. Tomorrow would be wedding day.

  • Friday July 28, 2017

    Katy & Billy's Wedding

    The wedding was scheduled to start at 2:00pm, so we had a bit of time pre-wedding. We met up with our family at the dining room for breakfast and then we took a walk along the river with Rose and stopped to enjoy a coffee in a place we'd passed may times but never stopped at before. It was nice enough to sit outside to enjoy the coffee and chat before we needed to make our way back to the hotel in time to get ready for the wedding.

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      We met up with Rose, Mick, Tom & Lucy in the bar of Bingham Hotel before the wedding - and we were pretty certain that everyone in the bar were wedding guests as we were. Many of them were also saying at the hotel as well.

      The wedding venue was the lowest level of the hotel - which opened out to a terrace and garden at the back/riverside of the hotel. Prior to this moment, we hadn't actually ventured to this part of the hotel, so it was nice to see it the first time set up and decorated for Katy & Billy's wedding once we were directed to head downstairs.

      Gin inspired table names

      Gin inspired table names

      To say the least, the wedding ceremony was lovely from start to finish. It was wonderful to see Katy escorted down the aisle hand in hand by her brother Tom. Many happy tears were being shed.

      Following the ceremony we were all led out to the terrace at the back of the hotel for a glass of champagne followed by canapés while the room used for the wedding was transformed for dinner. The photos of the wedding party were taken in the hotel garden so we were able to watch the proceedings from the terrace while we mixed and mingled.

      Katy & Billy were clearly lovers of gin - the dinner tables were named after gins and they had a gin bar set up on the terrace serving signature cocktails for each of the gins used as the table names. As their favourite, the head table was named Bombay Sapphire and their signature cocktail, called the Laverstoke, was excellent. One to learn to make, we'd say.

      We were seated for dinner with Rose, Mick, Nicola, Lucy and one of Gary's other cousins Tracey. Tracey's mom Maureen should have also been sitting with us but she unfortunately had been taken to hospital and therefore missed the wedding. It was an enjoyable meal and fitting celebration of the couple through the speeches delivered before the main course. Following dinner the festivities transitioned into full party mode at one end of the room. It was a fun night. We finished the late night back in the bar for some drinks and pizza that Nicola & Ashlea had arranged to be delivered to the hotel. It was a great way to end this day and celebration.

  • Saturday July 29, 2017

    Last morning at Bingham Hotel

    We started the day by joining Katy & Billy as well as all of the other family staying at the hotel for breakfast in the hotel's dining room. It was nice and relaxed and a nice way to close out our time at Bingham Hotel. Katy & Billy weren't leaving on their honeymoon until Sunday and had arranged a casual lunch in nearby Sunbury also along the Thames River, but we figured the logistics didn't suit us being able to attend.

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      Probably had we considered something like the Saturday lunch when we were booking the trip we might have extended our stay in Richmond by one day - but as booked we were scheduled to check out of Bingham Hotel today and travel to Central London for the next part of our stay at Apex Temple Court. So, following breakfast we returned to our room to get ourselves sorted to check out at the appointed time of 11:00am.

      As we were checking out we had the hotel arrange a car for us to get into Central London and once settled in the car we found out that our driver was quite concerned about the route to get us into the city. An annual three day cycling event call RideLondon was in full swing in London. With that, many roads would be closed at the time we'd be trying to get to our hotel. It was clear sailing until we reached the area affected by the closures at which point the app the driver was using to select a route kept spitting out diversion after diversion. Even though we were approaching from the west we were being directed north and further east to find an open way to the hotel. The last mile of the journey took at least an hour to get to the hotel - and in the end the driver had to go on a closed road to make it to the immediate access road to the hotel. We were so very glad that the trip was a fixed rate and it was an easy choice to tip the driver well for his effort to get us to Apex Temple Court. We had arrived.

Richmond Image Gallery

Thames River at low tide in Richmond
Looking through one of the arches of Richmond Bridge
The front of Bingham Hotel
The riverside back of Bingham Hotel
Ham House
Evening view along the Thames River in Richmond
Evening view along the Thames River in Richmond
Rose, Mick, Linda & Lucy before the wedding at Bingham Hotel
Katy & Billy during the wedding ceremony
Bride & Groom with their moms
Post-wedding reception on the hotel terrace
Post-wedding reception on the hotel terrace
Linda at the wedding reception
First dance for Bride & Groom
Katy, Billy & Ashlea during one of the speeches
Looking in on the post-dinner dancing
The terrace at evening time
Celebration time
About WHITEonline

WHITEonline is the digital home of Gary & Linda White. We’ve been married since 1980 and live just outside Toronto in Ontario, Canada. Linda was born and raised in Toronto while Gary was born in London, England and moved to Canada at the age of 11. We enjoy travelling and taking photos while we travel. WHITEonline provides the opportunity to share some of our photos & experiences.

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