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Tuesday, 7 January 2014

WALK 7. Richmond Park

I don't often go for a walk; I much prefer walking for a purpose. To and from the osteopath, for instance; suggesting slyly that walking (available gratis) might conceivably outweigh the benefits from his ministrations (£55 for 40 minutes). He took it well; like a man, in fact. Which is what he is.

However fifteen years ago, when we lived in Kingston-upon-Thames we did go for walks. We'd have been fools not to. From our front bedroom we could see into Richmond Park and estimate how it benefited house prices. This fake rural idyll was further enhanced by an access through the birch trees of Ham Common. Terribly fashionable.

We entered the park via Ham Gate. The lodge there had been acquired by someone of Middle East origin who was big in oil. He had surrounded himself with bodyguards, one of whom had been ticked off by the local police for de-holstering his side-arm in public view. You could easily guess these chaps' trade; their heads were the same width as their necks.

If we took the lower route (Swann's Way. Ha-ha-ha.) we passed over a polo field, scattered with fragments of polo balls. They're wood: did you know that? An ice cream, perhaps, at Pembroke Lodge, home of Bertrand Russell in his teens. The upper route led to the Isabella Plantation - short Christmassy trees as I recall.

The Queen owns Richmond Park which is populated by small herds of deer who love playing chicken with cars (sometimes bikes – see pic). Only pheasants are stupider. Our visits usually left me bad-tempered, probably because they happened on Sunday afternoon, never my best time. Planes to and from Heathrow fly over ceaselessly. Cars drive round and round. Frequently a stag gets it wrong. Not a restful place.


  1. That brings back some memories. Are you sure you didn't visit a café?

    Included in the thousand or so old slides I had converted to digital a while ago are pics of me and my family walking with you and yours in Richmond Park on one of our visits if you're interested.

  2. Sir Hugh.....if he's not, the rest of us certainly are! Deer problems here too, in the real country. Dined on some tenderloin a couple weeks ago, by way of a couple of friends. Excellent meat. I'm now thinking it might be better to kill one with a rifle than the truck(I've killed 3 w/ truck in my life). Less damage to meat. No deductible to be paid.

  3. Sir Hugh: There is, I believe, a café in, or adjacent to, Pembroke Lodge (qv). You may have found an irrestible urge to go in there but I was a only a quarter of an hour's walk from home. Possibly I went in to watch, fascinated and simultaneously repelled by the "pot of tea" routine.

    By all means send me a pic which shows as many people within our tribe against a recognisable background of the park. If it has sufficient documentary value I'll post it.

    MikeM: Ate something similar in NZ. Asked our host why it was less gamey than usual: "It's not feral," I said.

    Travelling along the Interstate that runs across the north of Pennsylania (ie, fairly wild country) we arrived soon after a deer and a Chevy had met in loving embrace. There was a 200-yard gap between these now stationary protagonists and both were utterly, definitively you might say, dead.

  4. I like the sound of Ham Gate. I have just discovered an Owley Gate on Dartmoor and feel compelled to visit it with B1 this weekend.

  5. Occasional Speeder9 January 2014 at 13:57

    Do you remember the video clip that went viral filmed in the park? A man (possibly a barrister) shouting "Fenton! Fenton!....Jesus Christ!" as his errant Labrador chases deer onto the road. Panic in his voice possibly caused by the thought of the potential litigation he could be subject to from the drivers of the expensive German cars that would cruise around there.

  6. I used to walk among deer in Knole Park in Sevenoaks. For a time we had a cowardly little Cavalier King Charles spaniel which was afraid of almost everything including the deer. They were as I recall the miniature mountjack deer so there was little excuse. I find it hard even today to forgive the dog, otherwise a loveable pet, for cowering behind us every time a deer so much as looked at it.