I’ve heard it’s hot in Georgia, but the weather in my home away from home has been pretty perfect. Mitch and I lived in Richmond, England, just outside London, from 2004-2006 and they were some of the happiest years of my life. Those two years grew us in many ways and sparked a lifetime love of not just being tourists, but citizens of the world. It’s easy to love a city like London with so much to do, and we had fun uncovering the hundreds of opportunities the city provides its residents and visitors, oftentimes for free.
One of my goals for this trip was to get us back to Richmond. While many activities are free, accommodations in and around London can break the budget, so I joined TrustedHousesitters.com and started combing through daily listings hoping to find us a dog-sitting job. You could say I stalked a little, reaching out to various dog owners who requested dates we couldn’t do. But if they had the right postcode, I made it a point to check in with them throughout our journey just in case they were planning a summer holiday in July. My best efforts at media pitching were at work trying to get us a hit on a place to reside.
Then in April, I heard from one of those “new friends.” An American expat family was going back to the States for two weeks over July 4th and offered us their home in exchange for taking care of their two English setters. Yes please! And the best part, they lived right on Richmond Park, my happy place and our old stomping grounds.
So we’ve spent the last two weeks with two awesome dogs, Lola and Piper, loving on them and walking miles through the park every day. With little agenda beyond caring for these pets, we’ve been able to revisit our favorite haunts and soak up the beautiful “English summer” weather (sunny and low 70’s with the occasional spitting rainstorm).
In the next town over, a little tennis tourney was going on called Wimbledon. Admittedly, we are not huge tennis followers. I’m pretty sure I could only name 10 players if pressed. But we couldn’t pass up the opportunity on Mitch’s birthday to ride over and try to get in. Surprisingly, there was no queue, even on a day when Roger Federer and Andy Murray were both playing. For 20 pounds each, we walked right in and saw some great tennis! These tickets don’t admit you into Centre Court, 1 or 2, but we caught a ladies’ doubles match between greats Lindsey Davenport, Mary Joe Fernandez, Tracy Austin and Sandrine Testud. Then we joined hundreds of other local Londoners spread out on the hill behind Centre Court watching the jumbotron as Murray battled his way into the semifinals. It was a great day to be in London!
I count these two weeks as one of the greatest blessings on our trip. Richmond is a town that has my heart and it would have been impossible to afford staying here for any length of time without a housesitting job. We are living like locals and soaking up summer in every way possible. Good thing Mitch already bought the tickets home or I might just stay here!
Sweet Lola is blind, so she stays on a leash.
Piper is full of energy so she gets extra walks most days!
Richmond Park is the largest in England and a treasure to have in your backyard!
Riding bikes, hanging in Richmond and
conquering the maze at nearby Hampton Court Palace
Mitch’s birthday at Wimbledon