Monday, 9 May 2011

Loafing in London

The Thames pathway is a stone's throw from my son and daughter-in-law's flat making it an ideal place to while away the hours.  Winding along the river's edge amid lush greenery the path is popular with locals and visitors alike.  I have spent many hours strolling along it in either direction always finding something new and interesting to enjoy or simply  finding some calm and peace in the hugeness and busyness of London.   You are never far from a pub or a cafe along the river's edge and a popular pastime in Richmond is to buy a pint and sit basking in the sun on the sloping river bank in the heart of town.....all very civilised.  I have been astonished at how high the tides rise on the river and on a couple of occasions have seen it come right up over the river bank to flood the pathway.  Watching the pathway flood appears to be a local sport, people will sit for a couple of hours waiting to watch the spectacle.  A couple of nights ago I joined the locals, bought my half pint of cider and sat on the bank.  It was so enjoyable, both people watching and river watching, that a couple of hours went in no time. A bit further along the river is Hammerton's ferry where for a pound you can travel from one side of the river to the other.  My grandson loves it.  A number of stately homes line the river in this part of London too, some open to the public.  One day we picnicked with friends in the grounds of  Ham house.  It was the perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday, reclining in the immaculately groomed gardens of a stately home amid perfectly clipped hedges and huge shady trees. On one of our river strolls, from Richmond to Kew, we came upon the grave of Gainsborough, the artist, in a graveyard by Kew Green. Sadly it is overgrown and neglected but apparently there is a move is afoot to restore it.  That's part of the fun of London, you never know what you will find on your walks here. I am beginning to feel almost local here.  The many hours I have spent in the childrens' playgrounds along the river's edge with two year old Eddie have enabled me to get to know quite a few local people.  It is fun to go out and meet up with or recognise people and have then greet me with a cheery hello.  The view of the river from Richmond Hill is protected by law and may never be built out of deliberately changed.  It is truly beautiful. Nevertheless, for all it's beauty the pathway is often congested with people at the weekends, particularly when a multitude of cyclists race up and down amongst the strollers causing people to duck and dive to avoid them.  It is lovely, though, a great place to stroll. loaf and just enjoy being.