If you should fancy an uncomplicated expedition well within London city limits (no prebooking train tickets needed, or any advance prep of any kind), the National Trust-run grounds of this 125-acre parklands and estate once owned by the Hatfield family is to be found a few minutes walk from the Morden tube stop at the very end of the Northern line. A quick jaunt along the high street, and a dash across a busy roadway, brings you to a passageway by which you may slip into the park (the main entrance is further up the road). Once inside, the sound and fury of the unabating traffic almost immediately recedes, and it is possible to believe yourself far removed from the city. In addition to the grand hall itself (now mainly used as a wedding venue) with its fronted lattice of ornamental bridges and congress of decoratively fashionable trees (yews, lime and chestnut, all carefully structured and considered as involves status), the grounds include the stables (and yards), mills, a cottage at one time a hunting lodge (eventually the residence of Hatfield’s bachelor son) and the buildings once devoted to tool and potting sheds and day stables (now repurposed as a garden centre and the park’s posh cafe named, appropriately, the Potting Shed), as well as sprawling meadows and wetlands. The river Wandle very lazily and haphazardly wanders its way through the landscape, and, although I visited a bit late in the season, in the spring and summer months the rose garden is a much-celebrated effusion of colour and scent, now being restored to the aesthetics of its 1920s origins. For the adventurous, a wander over the tram tracks in one direction leads to Merton Abbey Mills, a former textile factory abutting the Wandle (William Morris once housed his design and printing company on the site, hence the pub named in his honour), and originally the location of an Augustinian Priory built in the early 12th century. On the property is the only waterwheel still in full operational order (which can be viewed on the weekend). The rest of the space is given over to crafts businesses and independent restaurants and boutiques, a mixed-use performance space and a bandstand which hosts musicians and a weekly open-air market. The ethos is alternative and quirky. In the other direction, and a heartily ambitious walk away (about three miles) is the pretty village of Carshalton, with its scenic high street and broad main square, encompassing Grove Park and the gorgeous broad Ponds, flanked on one side by the picturesque Greyhound hotel, once an 18th century coaching inn, and, although now extensively restored throughout the years, one of the only examples of its kind still in existence. Certainly an entire day’s worth of activity is to be had even if you shouldn’t stray too far from Morden Park itself, but you will emerge rich in experience and memory no matter how near or far you step, and you will feel refreshed and moored, ready again for the flash of London proper.