Travelling from the far west of Cornwall means that you don’t reach another county for a good hour and a half. So we haven’t been very far over the last couple of years since the first lockdown. Last week though we headed east to celebrate a significant birthday – that of our second eldest granddaughter who turned 18. I was there at her birth, though only just made it as she was over her due date and I had to return home to begin my final term of teaching practice for my PGCE. Oh, how long ago that time seems.
Whilst in the south-east I managed to visit a few of my favourite places in the area (we lived on the Hampshire/Surrey/West Sussex border for seven years back in the 2000s) and enjoy a few walks with my daughter along the River Thames. As usual the weather there was several degrees warmer than it ever is in Cornwall, the sun shone, the sky was blue, there was chocolate cake and I did a lot of walking!
River Thames Walks
I was surprised at how countrified the towpath along the river can be once you are away from the suburbs. We strolled towards Sunbury from Hurst Park / Meadows in Moseley where the river was busy with paddleboarders, kayakers and canoeists plus the inevitable rowers, with plenty of swans, ducks and geese.
On the towpath towards Ham from Kingston it was much busier and noisier due to the low-flying aircraft overhead. But once again after leaving the delightful Canbury Park towards Teddington Lock it feels like you are almost in the country. Stunning houses along the river front once again. And so much blossom!
RHS Wisley Gardens
The flagship gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society are at Wisley in Surrey, very close to the M25 motorway Junction 10 with the A3. It has been transformed since my last visit in 2015 and is extremely busy, especially when events like an Easter Egg hunt is on. The main changes are at the Welcome entrance and at Hilltop which is where the model gardens and allotments used to be. Now it is a centre for gardening science with a library and three new gardens surrounding it. There is a permanent exhibition that demonstrates the benefits of gardens for wellbeing and gives tips for creating garden spaces that improve the natural environment in a changing climate and a series of free talks, demonstrations and interactive sessions are offered daily.
Naturally I cannot resist photographing the beautiful plants and flowers, but it was lovely to see a variety of sculptures around the garden, including this one in the Cottage Garden.
Devil’s Punch Bowl
Once upon a time I used to drive along the old A3 all the time as we lived close by to Hindhead. We lived there in fact the entire 5 years it took for the A3 tunnel to be built and suffered the long delays caused by the roadworks. However now it has been dug up and a lovely all-weather circular path (2.5 miles) made along the former road joins the Devil’s Punch Bowl to the Hindhead Common where the Celtic Cross and the Sailor’s Stone can be found. I stood looking at the sweep of the track trying to work out my bearings, but it was very confusing. Chatting to a chap coming the other way, who also used to drive along this road we both agreed that it all looked very different.
On the way to the Devil’s Punch Bowl I stopped off at Watts Chapel. I have posted about this delight before (click on the link), but I had missed one of the friezes (Owl) around the chapel so I wanted to go back and find it.
The light wasn’t much better than on my previous visit, but at least it wasn’t raining. I took very similar photos as before, but here are a few more details I captured this time round.
Kingston Street Art
Coming back into Kingston we found some hoardings that had been creatively covered with street art.
Of course I cannot finish this post without showing you the marvellous cake created by the 18 year old for her birthday, it tasted as good as it looks.