The Joy of Middlesex

This week I’ve had my dad and his girlfriend visiting (sorry – I hate to use the word “partner”, it always sounds so formal). While discussing what sights to see, Kew Gardens, which is very close to where I live, was suggested as a place we could visit. However, the three of us all being considerably less inclined to part with the fifteen-hundred pennies required to grease their palms for entry, we decided against Kew, and since it was a nice day, made the decision instead to visit Kew’s neighbour, Richmond.

We started off from Twickenham in the morning as the sun was starting to break the clouds. We took the Thames Path along the river, where the counties of Middlesex and Greater London are joined in holy matrimony.

Along the river there are many benches and at one point we came to a widening in the path where there was a whole crescent of them. We read the inscriptions – many of them remembering loved ones past and came across one in particular which read “You’re the measure of my dreams”. On the bench was a ladybug, or ladybird, depending on which side of the Atlantic you are on. In the last few years, I’ve taken to calling them ladybugs, which is weird, since as much as I love America, I spent much of my time there arguing with my American friends about things such as the correct pronunciation of the word “pavement” (not “sidewalk”). This was the first ladybug I’ve seen all year, and so I honoured it by taking a picture.

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As we walked further along the path, we were greeted by the sight of the big red house upon the hill, which I previously posted a picture of in Jogga-Blog to the Moon. This is the former Royal Star and Garter Home, which until recently, has provided accommodation and nursing facilities for injured servicemen since the First World War.

As we reached Richmond, the sun was really warm and the cloud had dispersed. We found seats in the Tide Tables cafe, where we people-watched and relaxed in the sunshine with coffee and lemonade.

After a long spell sat by the river, we walked up to Richmond Hill and admired the vista from the top. The spot offers the only view in England to be protected by an Act of Parliament – the Richmond, Ham and Petersham Open Spaces Act passed in 1902 – which was implemented to protect the land on and below Richmond Hill and beautiful foreground views to the west and south. Then we walked back down the hill, through the Terrace Gardens. We came across a statue of Aphrodites, which caused a “furore” to the people of Richmond when it was built in 1952. Google “Bulbous Betty” and I guarantee you will see why. But she’s my kind of girl – making a spectacle of herself and not giving two hoots about it. On the placard below the statue I spotted another ladybug, this time a black one with orange spots.

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We found ourselves back down by the river, and to quench our thirsts we stopped at the Pitcher and Piano, enjoying a cold beer in their riverside beer garden.

After a while, we headed back along the river to Twickenham, stopping by Orleans House to view their World War I exhibition.

As I arrived home that evening, a third ladybug caused me to get my iPhone out for a photo. Brown with yellow spots, it greeted me on my front door as I put my key in the lock. Like my bus blog the other day, it appears you wait all summer for a ladybug and then three come along in one day.

Luther and Janet once said that the best things in life are free. Well it’s true – they are. With the exception of beer. But combine what nature has to offer, with a cold beer on a beautiful sunny September day, and there is proof right there that you don’t need to fork out excessive amounts of cash to have a good time.

As I prepared to write this blog, I reviewed the pictures I took of the ladybugs, and came across the first one on the bench. I had taken a picture of the whole bench, the one with the quote, “You are the measure of my dreams”, followed by the inscription, “Richard Ayley 1971 – 2010”. At the time, it was the quote that struck me, but today it is the young age at which he died – 39, only three years my senior. I was curious, so I Googled him. Richard, a Twickenham resident, was actually only 38 when he died of a brain tumour. He had been married just two years before.

Luther and Janet were right – the best things in life are free. But life is short. So enjoy the sunshine, a walk by the river or in the park. Find things that cost nothing to do and save the expensive things for another time. As winter approaches and the sun disappears, enjoy the fresh air in lieu of the sunshine. But most of all, enjoy the company.

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The Best Things in Life Are Free – Luther Vandross & Janet Jackson (1992)

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rob
    Sep 21, 2014 @ 13:37:47

    I can definitely see why Bulbous Betty caused such an uproar in 1952.
    I didn’t know that you called them ladybirds over there. I always love seeing them. On occasion one will land on me and I’ll have to coax her off with my hand. It seems that those are the only ladies that I attract anymore.

    Reply

    • 33andlostinlife
      Sep 21, 2014 @ 13:58:06

      Awww Rob, I’m sure you’re a hit with the ladies, whether they are bugs or birds :p if you can start getting the American population to start calling them ladybirds, I promise I’ll start calling them that too!

      Reply

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