“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James
The English summer is stereotyped by months like these. Days slip by that we haven’t unbuttoned our coats outdoors. Clouds seldom shift across the sun. Sidewalks glisten beneath our feet and our umbrellas are up then down then up then down in a matter of minutes and we walk to work with the pitter-patter of gentle rain dancing on the taut fabric above our heads. Double-deckers slip down the streets, flicking water from their tyres. We sit, sipping tea, under café awnings dreaming of holidays in warmer climes.
And then, out of nowhere, comes one (almost) proper summer afternoon. Vibrant ink-blue skies dotted by a bright white puffy cloud or two, sun warming our bare arms, our faces, our minds. And we wonder where we left last year’s half-finished sunscreen. But we head out anyway, and soak it up, forgetting how quickly winter skin can burn. We make the most of it, and this city, when it happens.
There was one day, not long ago, that was nearly like this. The sky was clear enough and the weather was warm enough to head out in a light jumper, daring to leave our coats at home. My parents were here and we headed to Richmond with Jorge, first to Petersham Nurseries (which I wrote about earlier) and then, over to the park. I shared photos of the Richmond Park deer last summer, but this time I want to show you around the lovely Isabella Plantation.
The rhododendrons and azaleas were in full bloom, and the whole 40-acre garden was streaked with colour. We wound through the flower-lined pathways of this old Victorian woodland plantation, passing grimy ponds where ducklings paddled through the green algae around the edges and various species of water birds hid in the reed beds along the banks. Birds squawked and sang and soared overhead.
Apart from the other people walking around, the Isabella Plantation felt a bit like walking through the pages of The Secret Garden, which was one of my favourite books while I was growing up. I could spend hours there, exploring, taking pictures, sitting on one of the secluded benches with a book or a travel magazine, watching the ducks.
Yes, more summer days, please London… because you have so many beautiful places that are best explored in the sunshine!
- My cookbook wish list is growing and diversifying: Greek, French & Spanish.
- So many sales on now!
- Love these pretty watercolour leaf prints!
- Dreaming of being back here again… who’s coming?
- There’s 3 new prints in my Etsy shop: a pile of pretty pink peonies; London’s S & R Kelly and Sons in black and white; and cacti and tea!
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