Most of my wanderings through
have found their points of interest in man made things and places of historical significance. Although not totally absent from Monday’s walk through the city, they took very much a back seat to the wild places of the city (although perhaps in places carefully managed kind of wild places). Even where I’ve taken an interest in the buildings, I’ve given it a miss here – I’ll keep the wonderful ancient chimneys at Fulham palace to myself and I don’t think you’d be interested in Marks and Spencer’s on Putney High Street (even though I’m not sure what happened yesterday, I recall it being mentioned in a conversation I had with a friend in 1976 although I haven’t seen him since the 70’s) London
I started my wander by taking the tube to Wimbledon, where I promptly replaced my lost map with a pocket sized A to Z type thing with a far greater range and went to a local café to get my bearings – not as easily done as said as even with the greater range map, I’d just wandered off it. So weaving my way through urban Wimbledon my first port of call was the Buddhapadipa Thai Buddhist temple – How foolish of me not to realise that the opening hours only applied to Saturday, so the little old lady in the hall seemed a little taken aback to be face to face with a hairy Scotsman, even a respectfully unshod hairy Scotsman. Neither the less, she did show me the temple room with it’s large golden Buddha. I did think that, what with my being there when it was really closed and the monk speaking to people in the room, that it wouldn’t be a good idea to fire of a couple of dozen pictures of what was really a rather lovely room. There were large grounds for wandering in with ponds and a huge temple behind but to be quite honest I didn’t feel I should be there but if I’m ever in
Wimbledon again on a Saturday, then I’ll pop round – at the current visiting rate that should be around 2054. If you were to lead a selfless life of right thought and action etc. then a leafy suburban street in Wimbledon would be a fine place to do it.
I’d originally intended to go and have a look at the tennis courts but it was a mighty detour and I suspected a high wall would make my return for shoe leather rather low so I went for a walk on the common, which turned out to be a lovely couple of hours of wildlife moments. First of all I spotted a bird flying between the trees in a bit wood which I at first thought to be a pigeon, all be it a very silent one, but on a second look turned out to be a hawk – I’m used to seeing them out in the open, but not in woods. Then there was an unusual bird noise in a bush that I’d never heard before – a bit like those clacker balls that kids have – as I got closer it got faster – perhaps I’d become radioactive and somebody had left a Geiger counter in the bushes but just as I was nearly there it flew off and all I know about it was that it was small and very fast.
In the middle of the common is an old windmill (also only open on Saturdays – this seems to be the in thing in Wimbledon) where Baden Powell wrote some stuff about scouting for boys, but far be it for me to comment on other people’s private lives, and next to the windmill was, much to my relief, a café where I had a cuppa and a slice of cake fashioned on bread and butter pudding (of quite extraordinary density – though not quite that of a Knockengorroch flapjack (Stephen Hawkins has written a number of books which cover these sort of things))
Just as I was leaving the common to continue my rambles through Putney and Fulham I heard the loudest cricket or grasshopper noise I’ve ever heard. But they’re elusive wee beasties, every time you stop, you can hear them all around but try to home in on one and it’s gone. I did spot a couple of butterflies instead as some compensation.
Some time later, I found myself in the grounds of Fulham palace – I was to late to get into the building itself. It has plenty woodland and lawn and an enormous walled garden, common to many large houses of yesteryear. Looking at it, it seems as if it’s only recently been paid any attention, for it is partially planted out in herby type plants and a number of fruit tree, which I imagine have been there for decades. The rest looks like it just gets a quick strim to keep it under control from time to time. Of note, just outside the garden, some years ago a tree appears to have fallen over the path. A slot has been cut in the tree for the path to pass through again and two leaves then carved into the exposed ends – the remains of the tree have since been consumed but the ivy on the ground.
After my semi wild urban adventure, which by the way also featured a flock of feral parrots in Fulham, it was a bit of a come down to be back to scabby city pigeons for the rest of the day and the occasional squirrels.