Monday, 29 September 2008

Monarchs of the Burbs

Inveterate Londoner that I am when I'm not sick of the place, this afternoon I engaged in one of London’s traditional urban pursuits.

Along the north side of the Thames at the western edge of London is a wide alluvial plain, conspicuously destined for early and permanent inundation.

Within this flat expanse one large area, fronting the river, was grabbed for the Tudor Hampton Court Palace and its ground; north of it is the even more extensive Bushy Park where a twenty-minute bike ride delivered me (from Surbiton, lower right), and within which another hour’s cycling on different paths was afforded. And deer-stalking.

Here, under the shade of well-spaced oaks

and amid the bracken, the deer doze or graze or thread their way between picnicking families and careering kiddy-bikes.

But I also brought back some sad pictures: those autumn tints in the row of horse-chestnuts near the Lion Gate are actually a wasting disease that’s afflicting the species in Britain, and that already half the trees have caught.

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