Walking back from an appointment this morning, I had a choice, go by the road or through the park (about 15 minutes longer)? I followed my gut instinct and went through the park. I wasn’t planning on taking photos, I hadn’t planned to go through the park, so it’s just my camera phone again (using my favourite Hipstamatic), but still, good to grab a bit of sunshine. Here’s to the extra 15 minutes.
Preparing for the refurbishment is going at full steam here, I’m kinda hoping that the actual refurbishment won’t be anywhere near as much hard work for me (and more like hard work for the builders I seem to be spending my entire life emailing at the moment) but anyway at the moment it’s all about trying to find somewhere else to live whilst the work is going on, discussions about dishwashers and picking tiles and bathroom suites and taps (which is nowhere near as exciting as it sounds, when mindful of exactly how much the short term let is likely to cost, that the only things you can really go for in your bathroom is cheap). So I was doing a lot of that yesterday, on what was nominally at least meant to be my only day off of the week (as in day off from the job), so when I woke up this morning irritable, I realised I needed to declare today my ‘day off’, never mind that I have 3 hours of shifts today, no this was a day off from builder / refurb stuff. So I pondered what to do with my ‘day off’ and I realised pretty instantly that I needed to be outside (or maybe I just needed to be away from the very ‘object’ that had made me wake up irritable, i.e. the flat) but this was not the day to be outside considering it had rained all night (again), was still raining and even heavier rain was forecast. It was a toss up between the allotment or going for a walk, so really a decision on which way I was going to get wet and muddy, I opted for the park.
(All photos today were taken with my phone using Instagram, I had decided not to take my camera because I didn’t want to get it wet and I wasn’t that hopeful of any decent photo opportunities anyway, of course I regretted it, I came across the most gorgeous group of deer for a start, browsing bracken under a tree but Instagram’s good, I’m not a photo snob).
Now I’ve been to Richmond Park a lot recently (“you don’t say” moan my few remaining readers – sorry I know it’s all I ever blog about, trust me things are being embroidered, books are being read and things being cooked, just difficult to finish anything at the moment) and I often aim to swing round Penn Ponds (two large ponds in the middle(ish) of Richmond Park, with a path between the two) but I never make it because I always get distracted by that new and enticing path I haven’t walked down before / haven’t walked down in ages, instead of following paths I’ve walked down so often I could do it blindfolded (i.e the paths to Penn Ponds). So I always aim to head towards Penn Ponds, get pleasurably, mildly lost and never make it. But today I was aiming for Penn Ponds with more of an air of definite determination and then I came across a path I hadn’t walked down before …..
This path was all about open skies (instead of the woods I’m normally drawn to), the gorgeous deep, dark reds of the dying bracken and parched yellows of the dead grass and some utterly glorious puddles (I was wearing wellies and at least for a moment I wasn’t a grown up juggling budgets, builders and letting agents, I was 5).
And there was a mysterious concrete thing I’d never seen before, note the grill, a ventilation point for a secret underground bunker (in my imagination)?
I did make it to Penn Ponds in the end . . .
… but on the greyest of days it was all about colour.
Today’s walk in Richmond Park was less about the light (there was none) and more about the increasingly deepening Autumnal colour, plus the continued very obvious presence of great big deer with great big antlers.
This time by the patch of grassland between Ham Gate and Isabella Plantation, there were just lone male stags, being made to feel a little uncomfortable by people getting too close and with their dogs to, don’t do it people, particularly this time of year (I was as usual using my camera on maximum zoom).
But of course this time of year, even when you’re a responsible dog owner, this can happen (photo not taken on any zoom whatsoever).
Now I’ve seen plenty of deer cross the paths, but not follow them, I think these dog walkers had quite a shock, luckily the dog was on a lead and they managed to calm the dog down and walk round the stag. Whilst the stag walked on and made it back off the path.
And finally a picture of home, in the distance.
- Richmond Park – Autumn (lacer.wordpress.com)
I have a game I like to play when I go for a walk in Richmond Park, I have in mind a rough direction I want to go, point myself in that direction and then walk and (and this is where the ‘game’ part fits in), when I come to a fork in the path I will head down whichever branch my gut says to go down. Now my gut is largely lead by how pretty / mysterious / photogenic / new (to me) the path looks, but I think my gut is also slightly concerned about not walking in the wrong direction, so I do (well most of the time), end up where I planned to be, but it’s always a bit of mystery about how I’m going to get there. It’s an exercise in trusting my instincts and trying to take some decision making out of my life and to just go with the flow a bit, move on and find what’s behind the next corner.
And today’s walk turned out to be a lot about light; about the light shining through the dew wet long grass or through the canopy overhead.
It was also about deer, a lot of deer. The two photos below are from the first group I came across. Shortly after I’d taken the second photo of the pair, the young male deer in the photo (taken on maximum zoom I hasten to add, I’m not silly enough to get that close to them if I can help it, particularly at this time of year) broke into a run and literally leapt across the path I was standing on, closely followed by all the other young deer, the females and the stag, seeing them run like that, so close in the dappled sunshine was breathtaking.
The next group of deer, or should I say groups was towards the end of my walk. I had been walking in more woodland and I could hear a stag bellowing nearby, which is always slightly unnerving when you can hear them but can’t see them, although luckily it turned out that they weren’t that close by, I finally spotted them when I came out of the wood and onto a patch of grassland, the bellows from a stag can really travel a long way, I’ve even heard them from our flat at night sometimes. Anyway this is the noisy fellow.
And why was he being so noisy? Well it turned out he was having a bit of a ‘chat’, because it wasn’t just his little group in the area, there was a much larger group a few metres away under one of the trees, plus a fully grown stag without any ladies hanging round on the outskirts of the two groups and getting threatened plus a little further away another full grown stag who may or may not have had any ladies of his own because he was a bit of a distance away and in long grass, so I couldn’t see. I think the noisy stag wanted to big up his presence a bit because the stag under the nearby tree had a far better looking group with the cutest looking babies.
And this is the dad, looking like he’s having his cake and eating it, sitting there not a care in the world about the other group so close by or the solo male stag trying to pinch his ladies, he can frighten them all off without even standing up. He doesn’t even ‘care’ how close he’s parked his group next to the road with all those humans on.
Regular readers of this blog would kind of guess that I live close to Richmond Park, so when I heard that the Olympic cycling was passing through, of course I had to go, despite last time I saw a road cycle race, as a teenager on exchange to France, being bored to tears. Waiting for the race this time was a lot more fun, very relaxing sitting on the grass and with a long enough route, not too crowded. Even the police motorcyclists streaming past at regular intervals seemed to be enjoying themselves (the one below was doing high fives with the crowd).
And then there was the cyclists, in two main groups, they whizzed past in almost a blink of an eye.
Team GB were in the second group and they got such a cheer but the few riders that were lagging behind the two groups got even louder cheers.
After seeing the riders past I rushed home (which really wasn’t far away), hoping to catch the final sprint at the finish on TV and guess what? They beat me to it! By the time I switched the TV on the race had just finished! So it’s quicker for them to cycle into Central London from Richmond Park than it is for me to walk home!
PS I of course stayed up to watch the Opening Ceremony last night and I absolutely loved it, Danny Boyle is a genius and I loved in particular his support for the NHS. I know other countries may not have particularly got that bit but trust me, this was about Britain and although we may occasionally moan about our NHS (trust me I could say a thing or two about how long it takes to remove wisdom teeth right now) but it is a service that is very dear to all our hearts because all we have to do is see other countries that don’t have a free health care system and see how difficult it is for the self employed or low incomed and we love and appreciate our NHS even more (plus the people who work for the NHS are complete stars). And at a time when the NHS is under such attack by the incompetent ideologically motivated ******* we have the misfortune to have in power at the moment, to have someone say how much we appreciate the NHS, in such an extremely high profile way, was fantastic. I also loved the bit about children’s literature and Mr. Bean and oh the Queen, a Bond Girl! Absolutely fantastic. And oh the cauldron! Stunningly beautiful, I really hope they display the cauldron somewhere like the V&A (or maybe still on site) once the Olympics are over. And oh the choice of the next generation to light the cauldron, just perfect.
Me and Girl Lacer went to find the Olympic rings in Richmond Park today (warning there’s going to be a whole slew of over excited Olympic posts from me this summer). I had spotted the photo of the rings on Facebook and as we live so close, I just had to go.
It was an adventure in itself finding the rings, going just by the Facebook photo, I recognised Penn Ponds, so headed there first to orientate ourselves. Then there was lots of squinting at the photo on my phone and going “well there’s the small pond and there’s the Royal Ballet School, so that must mean the rings are over there,” but we spotted lots of great wildlife on the way, the park really is blooming at the moment.
When we found the rings, understandably from ground level you don’t get the greatest of views but it’s worth having a stroll round them and then heading up to the nearby ridge of small hills, to get at least a slightly better idea of what they look like (middle photo was taken from the aforementioned hill) but really, you need to be on a plane going into Heathrow, to get a really fantastic view.
Once we had found the rings, that meant we had to make our way home again, via Kingston town centre as Girl Lacer wanted to spend some pocket money. So I’d looked at the map and thought that the gate at Kingston Hill (called Robin Hood Gate) would be the best place to exit the park and then we could get a bus down the hill and into town. Hmmmm, this is where my “oh look, I can see the exit from here” skills trip me up. You see Richmond Park is a fantastic mixture of woodland and open fields and when you’re in an open field bit, you can see quite a distance (which is an amazing feeling, it’s only when you see what you’re normally missing, i.e the ability to see more than just the building across the road, do you realise, or at least I realise, how restricted your line of sight is living in the city, Richmond Park is one of those places where you have to pinch yourself to remind yourself that you’re still in London). Anyway, so I was standing in a field, could just about see an exit in the far distance and I assumed it was Robin Hood gate . . . nope, I only realised it wasn’t when we finally, after a lot of walking, got to it. I actually, until just now when I looked at the map, assumed we’d gone through Roehampton Gate instead, but no looking at the map, we not only missed the right gate by one, we missed it by two gates, we had left through Sheen Gate instead and considering we had entered through Ham Gate, that meant we had just literally walked across the park (it’s a very big park). No wonder it was a long walk to get to the bus stop in Roehampton!
So, the moral of the story is, don’t trust me to know where I’m going in Richmond Park (it’s not the first time I’ve got lost there) BUT the rings are a definite must see, specially if you’re in a plane
Richmond Park photos – me! (see my Flickr stream for bigger, brighter, better photos)
Map bastardised from Google.
PS Please do not use any of my photos without my permission, thank you kindly