Posts Tagged ‘river’

Winter approaching….

I still feel a bit like my head is full of cotton wool so I’m doing a winter photos post. Please forgive my lack of actual blog writing recently.

image

The walk to work in the cold

image

Wednesday’s mist

image

He was just standing there as I walked to work!

image

The river through the bus window

image

Winter sky behind Ham House

image

The walk home is dark and beautiful

Frost and food

Yesterday was a day of frost and food, both of which make for pretty pictures. Check it out.

image
image
image
image
image
image
Pics from the walk to work
image
Cherry and apple cake
image
Chopping chives in the kitchen garden for the day’s food
image
image
Making chutney with the garden produce

Introducing…. Mrs Massey

So the other day, I went to see the Vagina Monologues. When I went to pick up the tickets, they had the name Mrs Tracy Massey on them. I didn’t notice it at the time but it was pointed out to me later and I thought that this could be the opportunity of a lifetime. The opportunity to remodel myself as…

Mrs Tracy Massey

I could live a whole different life as, like, an MI5 double agent or something. I could live my Mrs Massey life whilst also being Laura. In the daytime, I could leave the house in my National Trust t-shirt all innocent, then when I get to the end of the road, I could put on my black ninja outfit, which makes me almost invisible and I could use my powers of secrecy and stealth to go to the river and swim underwater to the Houses of Parliament (on one breath), where I use the secret underwater entrance.

In the secret changing room, I change out of my ninja outfit and into a business woman power suit, where I go straight into a meeting about the state of the country’s security and discuss the imminent threat of the giant lizard people who disguise themselves as newborn babies but then become lizards and eat all the nurses. Some days I dress as a nurse and use my ninja powers of extreme intelligence to save people’s lives all day while also doing undercover work into the giant lizard people babies.

For lunch, I would eat gold leaf and caviar made by small dragonflies from the Fijian rainforest. Cause that seems like a thing that a Mrs Tracy Massey might do, do you think?

In the evening, I underwater swim back down the river, sneak to the end of the road, change back into my National Trust t-shirt and walk into the house, super casual and all like, “O hey, how’s it going? I’ve had such a lazy day today.”

So, um, yeh. I could do that. I could become Mrs Tracy Massey, right?

The first blackberry

A few days ago, I was walking home and I spotted a single ripe blackberry.

image

In my excitement, I thought about giving it to Danda…. But then I remembered what happened last year so I ate it myself….

(I posted this in October last year.)

This is a story. A story that I am calling Danda And The Blackberry. It contains adventure, daring, far away lands and valiant mission.

One day, a few months ago, I was out walking. I was listening to Vanessa Paradis’ ridiculous but catchy hit, Joe Le Taxi as I roved. I was pottering up and down hills and following the river through London and having a lovely time. The summer was at that lovely not-too-hot, just-a-slight-breeze stage. The leaves on the trees were green and I stopped often to photograph the beautiful flowers.

I was having a lovely time. That’s when I saw it. The single ripe blackberry on the blackberry bush…

image

Ah! I thought. Look what the summer day hath delivered unto me. I shall pick this single ripe blackberry and present it as a gift to somebody.

But to whom should I give this beautiful gift of the summer’s first blackberry? Hmmm.

And that’s when I thought, I shall give it to Danda. Because he is a taxi driver, he is quite often on the move and I thought he might be in the area. I gave him a quick call and he was nearby but he was taking someone to the top of the hill that I was at the bottom of. So, thought I, I shall race to the top of the hill and hopefully see him there.

Off I sped, bearing the summer’s first blackberry aloft. It was quite a long walk and really quite steep but I was on a Blackberry Mission and determined. As Danda drove up the hill, I walked as quickly as my legs would take me. He was held at a red light for ten seconds or so. This gave me the edge. Holding the blackberry gently, I power-walked through fields and past trees. I was determined. Danda’s taxi was approaching the top of the hill just as I hurried to the end of the path and out onto the pavement.

It was like someone had organised us, like chess peices, to collide at exactly the right moment. We reached the bend in the road at the same time and waved. Danda drove a little further down the road to drop the person in his taxi off while I stood panting a little and trying to regain my composure.

A minute or two later, Danda was back. He pulled over and I climbed in the back.

“Danda!” I declared with great aplomb, “I have brought you this blackberry from the Alaskan wilds, from whence I have come after my long exploration there.” (Not really, I had just been wandering around aimlessly by the Thames but that’s beside the point. Stick with me on this one.) “I have brought this, the first blackberry of the summer, to you, as it reminds me of your summery disposition and your great love of blackberries.” (He once said he’d had an apple and blackberry crumble which was tasty.)

He looked a little uncertain about the grandness with which I presented the blackberry to him but nevertheless, he took it, popped it in his mouth and ate it.

I waited, with baited breath for his verdict.

Silence.

“Danda. What of the beauty of the blackberry? Do you approve of it?”

“Mmm….” He said, nonchalantly. “It’s a bit sharp….”

Silence.

“Do you want a lift anywhere?”

River life

Since I started working at Ham House, my life revolves around the river more than it ever has, despite living next to it for years. The tides, the plants, the water sports, all these things are changing with the warm weather and there is always something different and interesting to see. Here are a few things which might greet me on my walk to work.

image

image

High tide! That there, where those swans are swimming, that’s the path where I usually walk. My options are two. Firstly, I can walk quite a long way back until I come to a path that will take me up to the road and around to meet up with the path further on where it is dry. OR I can simply roll up my trousers to my knees and wade through. I always choose this option, which means that most of my shoes are soaked and lined up to dry out in the hallway. (Check out the cows in the second photo, all gathered behind the wall to watch the silly humans squealing and trying to keep their trousers dry.)

image

In the distance to the right, there is a polo match going on. I watched it yesterday after work for about ten minutes. I’m not going to pretend I knew what was going on. Or that I was even close enough to see it, even if I did know how polo works.

image

I don’t know if you can see through the small gap in the foliage, there is a longboat of sorts, with about ten people rowing. It looked really old school, like they were setting off for a Viking battle.

image

A lone boat just bobbing about on the water. I wanted to jump in it and row the rest of the way home. I have decided that my life would be nicer if I rowed to work. I just need a boat. Anyone got one they can give me?

image

Talking of boats, a few years ago I decided that I didn’t have enough upper body strength so I would join a rowing club. I looked into joining this one until I realised that you probably need to be part of this crowd to afford the fees.

image

The Star and Garter up on the hill. This place is for disabled servicemen and women and must be a lovely way to spend your days after the horrors of war.

image

A half naked man showing off!

image

A boat which comes around every summer and puts on puppet shows for kids.

image

Anyone who’s been on even one date has to come down to the river on a sunny day. Women sitting on men’s knees on benches, tanned couples sitting under trees and talking in low voices to each other, teenagers listening to music aloud on their phones and looking nervously around. They’re all here on the river on a sunny day.

The weather and us

We in Britain have quite an involved, emotional relationship with the weather. I imagine most countries have a dependence on their weather in some way but as a Brit, the reaction to this year’s weather has amused me lots.

It was cold. Very cold. For a long time. Now I’m not one to moan about the weather, mainly because it’s all over the place so I figure there’s no point being so attached to it as it’s bound to not be doing what you want it to. Also, as a generally quite hot person, I much prefer things to be a little colder so that my body temperature comes out somewhere in the middle! I love going for a walk when it’s cold and I can see my breath. By the time I’ve walked for five minutes, I’ll be really warm anyway.

So this winter, this long never-ending winter, when it was cold for seven months, I did not complain. I prefer swimming outdoors when it’s raining or cold too, because most people don’t like it so they go to the indoor pool. Which leaves the pool empty for little me and I don’t have to get mad because it’s so full and people aren’t following the Swimming Pool Rules. I like the comfiness of wearing a big cuddly coat, which I can only do in extreme cold because I get hot so easily. I also like dragging out the Downstairs Duvet while watching a film in the evening. The winter forces us to be cuddly and to cook hearty warming dishes like beef stews and cottage pies and apple crumbles. All the things, I like.

When the complaining about the cold continued on into May and early June, it became hard to defend my position, especially given that the garden was looking a little sad, none of the trees were bearing fruit and all the bees were dying. I felt sorry for the bees, as I like them. I’m all into the bee scene.

Small talk during the last weeks of this long winter pretty much only consisted of weather-chat. Whilst in work, when a customer entered the shop with their umbrella and their big winter coat and scarf, they would just look at me with a look on their face and we both knew that weather-chat was on the cards. It became unavoidable. And so I made polite small talk about the weather.

“It’s been too long now, hasn’t it?” I would say.

“I’m still wearing my winter coat, in June!” I moaned.

“Snow?! In May! Unbelievable!” I exclaimed, all the while thinking that I didn’t mind it so much.

When I got up first thing, dressed in my jarmies, and the cold hit me, I’d grumble a bit but it was nothing a cup of tea couldn’t handle.

And then it warmed up. We stopped moaning about the cold and rain and the sun shone. My goodness, did it shine!

And we, the British, we were excited! Brilliant! We sat out in parks and ate icecreams and acted like we were on holiday. We loved it!

Me? I was sweaty and uncomfortable. I was not really having fun. My new job required a half an hour walk and not very much shade along the way. So I arrive at work feeling gross. So I have to take extra clothes to change into. But then I work all day and get hot and disgusting. But I don’t have any more clothes to change into. So my walk home is in already sweaty disgusting clothes. Then I get hot on the walk home and by the time I arrive home, I’m just a mess. It doesn’t make for a very attractive Laura.

And then the weather got really really hot. Too hot. We spent a lot of time inside, hiding from it. We moaned. Yes, we moaned. Because it was too hot.

This time I joined in. I’m not mad for hot weather anyway, as you’ve guessed, so my moaning was genuine.

Then there were thunderstorms so we rejoiced! Ah, what a relief from this overwhelming heat! Thank GOODness! Phew!

Then we saw the forecast for this weekend said there are going to be more storms and rain… And guess what happened?

We moaned. We moaned because we had a weekend away at the coast planned and a birthday party outside down by the river and the damn rain had spoiled it all! Fist-shaking and despairing came into play. And we lamented the awful British weather again!

Are you keeping up with this? I’m not sure I am. Let’s go from the top.

1. It was cold. We moaned.
2. It was hot. We rejoiced.
3. It got hotter. We moaned.
4. It was stormy. We rejoiced.
5. More rain was forecast. We moaned.

Poor weather. When we seem happy about something, he does more of the same and then we moan!

(I personally, am always moaning about extreme heat. I think I was an Arctic explorer in a previous life.)

My walk to Ham House

I do this walk once or twice a week when I go to Ham House to volunteer and I love it. Once I’ve got out of town, I hit the river and this is the best part of the walk….

image

Through Buccleuch Gardens….

image

Out the other side and along the edge of Petersham Meadows…

image

Petersham Meadows on my left and the Thames on my right…

image

Cows in Petersham Meadows…

image

Ducks on the path…

image

The Thames, behind a ton of forage-able dock leaves….

image

Horses came here recently!

image

Marble Hill House on the opposite side of the river so I know Ham House is soon….

image

When I see an open space in the trees ahead on the left, I know Ham House is only another minute away…

image

Sure enough…

image

The little bridge….

image

The trees are hiding the house…

image

Horses from the riding school next door….

image

Almost….

image

There it is!

image

To the right of the front door, the windows you can see at the bottom here, those are the kitchen windows! I spend all day looking out at feet!

image

I take the side gate around the building (that’s my kitchen window again, bottom left)…

image

… Which brings me to the door the volunteers use to get in, the black one on the left….

image

I then go down a few steps to the bathroom area….

image

… Into the eerily quiet and empty downstairs, which contains the bathroom, the beer cellar, the kitchen and the mess rooms…

image

Turning left, I get into the scullery, which then opens out into my favourite room in Ham House….

image

The kitchen! This is where I spend all my time baking, the room I know most about and the place where I feel most comfortable, whilst working at the…

image

Beautiful and huge old table, built in the kitchen in 1610 using elm wood from an elm tree on the estate. This table is my favourite thing in the house. And probably my favourite table of all the tables I have known.

Readers, if you do not yet have a favourite table, I suggest you get onto it.

And that is my journey, once or twice a week. It’s quite nice, as it happens.