“WAS THAT A PARROT?!” is not really something I was expecting to hear while driving around London.
But for the record, yes, yes it was.
Every once in a while, you have to stop and remind yourself where you are, and brightly coloured birds in a park in London is one of the most disorienting things imaginable. Never mind the herd of deer crossing the road in front of your car—it’s the birds that are confusing.
I have never been so perplexed by a parakeet.
Richmond Park is less than a mile’s walk from uni, and it’s quite easy to forget where you are once you get there. It’s ridiculous. While London is all concrete and cobblestones, Richmond Park is all grass, trees, and deer. Lots of deer.
Richmond Park was originally a commons for the locals to use as field and pasture, but in 1625 one of many plagues hit London, and Charles I escaped to Richmond Palace, rather than stick around and die like everyone else.
It was Charles I that decided the commons needed to be put to better use as a hunting park, and so in 1637, he walled it in and brought in 2000 deer. This did not make anyone happy. The people around the park didn’t just use it for farming purposes—they needed the timber from the trees for firewood, etc. Obviously, you can’t take down a wall and expect 2000 deer to stay put, so a ladder was erected instead, allowing people to cross the wall and gather timber (and people continued to gather firewood from Richmond Park all the way up through the 1800s, when the practice was finally prohibited). When Charles II was king, he had ponds added to the park for the deer, including the Pen Ponds near the centre of the park.
Okay, history lesson’s over. Now it’s ambiguous story time:
There’s a telescope on King Henry’s Mound (a high point in the park named for Henry VIII) through which you can see Saint Paul’s Cathedral (well, you can see it without the telescope, but the telescope just makes it easier). Well, at one point my flat decided that it would be a good idea to go on a night walk to Richmond Park and walk all the way across the park to King Henry’s Mound to the telescope—at night. And if you think that a group of people living in the famously haunted dorm would be perfectly okay taking an extremely long walk through a forest at night, you couldn’t be more wrong. We were all quite glad to get back to our ghost.