Cemeteries capped the beginning and end of a long rainy walk one Saturday from Fulham to Hammersmith and back again, a loop that took me along the Thames and home via Ravenscourt Park. Juggling a camera and an umbrella is not ideal, but
I managed to take a few photos anyway. Sometimes rain makes you see the world a bit differently, bringing dripping branches, sleek reflective surfaces and making it easier to look down more often than up.
After wandering through the historical gravestones near All Saint’s Church, I hit the familiar trail that runs along the edge of the Thames on one side and the leafy Bishop’s Park on the other. The green railings dripped water onto already wet leaves piled up against the edge for kicking through while the wind whipped against my umbrella. The park was empty, but a few dedicated joggers passed me on the river path.
Once I reached the edge of the park, I veered off now and then from the river path, following sleepy side streets that were more colourful than I expected. Red berries littered the ground beneath a tree. I spotted a few colourful doors and walked beneath an arbour partially covered with leaves and twisting branches.
More joggers. More wind. The river was muddy and brown against a grey sky, the remains of an old dock standing in the subtle ripples caused by passing boats. Trees on the other side already stretching bare branches into the cloud-filled sky.
It was the day after the Paris attacks, a day I was supposed to go to the east for an Etsy meet up with some inspiring and creative people and to spend a happy afternoon taking bright, artistic photos of Shoreditch, but the weather seemed suitably bleak for such a day and I opted for this dreary walk near home instead.
The tide was out, the sopping sands of the banks ripples from receding streams, dotted with pieces of debris, the odd abandoned shoe and coffee cup. But there was some colour in the burnt orange Autumn berries, the rows of red Boris bikes, and the pink stems of rhubarb growing in the garden of The River Cafe toward Hammersmith.
Near the River Cafe, I came to a street called Bowfell Road that could have been somewhere like Notting Hill, an area that you’d associate with such vibrant homes. But then this part of west London has surprised me with its architectural details like the stained glass windows in the doors around the Alphabet Streets, each one a different design that you notice more at night when the lights are on indoors, and the artistic tiles in the entranceways too. So I guess Bowfell Road shouldn’t have surprised me.
Just past the River Cafe, I came to the Harrods Furniture Depository on the other side of the river in Barnes. Later I found out it was built in 1894 in the site of an old soap factory, was owned by Harrods and used as a place to store some of the bigger items that couldn’t be taken to the Knightsbridge shop.
The Grade II listed Harrods Furniture Depository buildings are no longer owned by Harrods but have since been converted into 250 townhouses and penthouse suites known as “Harrods Village”. Curious, I Googled the property and found this little look inside a 2-bedroom, £1.25 million flat and a smaller 1-bedroom for£750k.
Closer to Hammersmith Bridge, there are more new developments cropping up, no doubt for similar prices. I thought about crossing the river, but opted to head back to Fulham through the back streets on the north side instead and cut over into Ravenscourt Park.
Hammersmith is a bit of London I’m happy to not spend too much time, though I have happy memories of going to gigs around there years ago. Other than that, there’s a lot of traffic, concrete, betting shops, phone repair shops, Primark and the transport hub / shopping mall that is Hammersmith Station.
What I do like about Hammersmith is the lovely Ravenscourt Park (of course, much more enjoyable when it’s not raining…) with its plane trees and cedars and lake in the middle. The best part is wrought-iron gates leading into the scented, a lush little nook full of benches and a bit of cover from the weather.
It’s a small circular, symmetrical garden with rose beds and rose-covered arches, yuccas, giant poppies, irises, wisteria, lavender and jasmine. Vines snake around brick columns and birds hop over sleek pathways in search of worms on the surface. Tiny yellow flowers sway and bob under the weight of the rain. Translucent drips hanging from each pink bud.
I sat for a while under the partial roof that covers the benches around the garden before making my way back through the park to the other side, heading back home to Fulham with soggy boots. The Autumn leaves were not yet blown away and the ground beneath the trees coated in the ones that had fallen already.
There were kids playing a game of football in another section of the park, but other than that it was quiet. Everyone else was probably home, snuggling up with netflix and tea while the rain slithered down their windowpanes. At this point, I was ready to be doing the same (though probably a book instead of a series).
I still had quite a walk ahead of me though: Past the lake where birds floated under the trees and down the busy streets of Hammersmith into Fulham where I passed “Hammersmith’s Favourite Sandwich & Salad Bar” which seemed a bit of a lie considering it looked to be closed down to me…and then finally home via the Fulham Palace Road cemetery which I wrote about last week in the link above!