Cows meander in the fields, lazily munching on the meadow, as small boats glide effortlessly past.
A refreshing breeze wafts off the cool waters, providing a much-needed tonic to those sprawled across the wide expanses of grass, content to while away the day in this pastoral setting.
Is this really London, you wonder? This is Richmond.
An ancient borough in the far west-end, Richmond is a smart, stylish suburb filled with designer shops, posh pubs and former royal estates flanking the Thames.
Itâ€™s also the home of celebrities such as, Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall and Pete Townshend.
With a thriving theatre scene and ample green space, including Richmond Park, itâ€™s no wonder come the weekend, Londoners flock here, nursing pints at the many pubs, patios and gardens.
If youâ€™re in town for the Olympics this July, you just might want to escape to this relaxing retreat, too.
The high street offers ample opportunity to stock up on designer duds, ranging from Margaret Howell to bespoke tailors to much loved U.K. brands such as Laura Ashley, Ted Baker and Top Shop. Be sure to meander through the warren-like, cobblestone alleyways filled with bookshops, milliners and sweet shops.
Or, remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of the high street and head up Richmond Hill for commanding views of the River Thames and access to historic Richmond Park.
During her years spent commuting from Calgary to Richmond for a Calgary tech company, Sarah Rawlinson would make a beeline for Richmond Park shortly after touching down. This vast National Nature Reserve was an ideal safe running spot for her. It also has two 18-hole golf courses plus horseback riding, bike rentals and views of St. Paulâ€™s Cathedral.
â€œIn London, you could be in any world city, but Richmond feels quintessentially English â€” like a tourist imagines England to be,â€� says Rawlinson,
Travelling with a sports fan? Catch a match with 82,000 other fans at Twickenham Stadium, the largest rugby arena in the U.K. and home to the national team. You can tour the stadium, peeking inside Englandâ€™s dressing room and view the worldâ€™s largest collection of rugby memorabilia. East-elder Andrew Clark, makes the trek to Richmond simply for itâ€™s theatre.
â€œToo many west-end theatres are crazily expensive with no space at all. Richmond Theatre is brilliant â€” great shows, big names and plenty of leg room. And itâ€™s on the green, next to a pub. Bonus!â€�
Beyond a day visit, you can stay in Richmond as a nightly retreat from all the Olympic hullabaloo.
Situated across from Richmond Park, adjacent hotels, Richmond Gate and Richmond Hill, offer free access to Cedars, a high-end private health club with swimming pool (a rare find for London). Richmond Gate has much nicer rooms than Richmond Hill, but prettiness comes at a price and youâ€™ll pay more for the added charm.
Bed down at the Bingham for a designer stay in a former Georgian townhouse overlooking the Thames.
Within easy distance of the high street, this boutique hotel offers contemporary bedrooms along with in-room treatments.
Holding court atop Richmond Hill, The Petersham, with its elegantly appointed rooms and glorious views of Petersham Meadows, makes you feel as though youâ€™ve been transported to a stately manor house in olden times.
Until the end of June, celebrate the Queen Elizabethâ€™s diamond jubilee in style, sampling regal lunches and dinners based upon recipes from the royal household.
If you canâ€™t afford to stay, at least pop in for afternoon tea â€” itâ€™s a feast fit for a queen.
High rents in Richmond have forced many independent restaurants into neighbouring communities. Fortunately, there are still a few gems twinkling amid the glare of costume jewelry-like chains.
Tucking into steak and chips at La Buvette, youâ€™d be forgiven if you thought you were at a smart Parisian bistro.
While dishes are predominantly French, borders are occasionally stretched to include other Mediterranean influences.
Described by Vogue magazine as â€œa tangly, yet ordered Edwardian walled garden of the kind you see in the pages of Beatrix Potter,â€� Petersham Nurseries Cafe dishes up seasonal, organic fare for the likes of Madonna, Stella McCartney and their broods.
To get there, walk along the tow path from Richmond Bridge, past the infamous cows into a bucolic garden setting, where mouth-watering dishes miraculously appear from the converted garden shed-cum-kitchen.
Cross Richmond Bridge (the oldest bridge on the Thames in London) for a family style Italian meal at A Cena.
Stand-out dishes include fusilli in a pomodoro sauce, grilled sea bass and polenta fritta, cornmeal fritters dusted with fresh tomato, spring onions and Parmesan.