It had rained overnight but as we got ready the sky cleared and the sun came out. I had no idea what Tigger had in mind as we walked down to Cafe Maya for one of their tasty breakfasts, but was content to wait and see.
With a mysterious smile, Tigger informed me that we were off to an "event" but that was all. While an outing is always appealing, the word "event" makes me apprehensive as this usually implies crowds, something which I dislike and makes me nervous.
From the station we made our way towards the centre of of town and reached the High Street.
Looking around for refreshments, we tried the Vinery. Despite the assertion painted on the outside it was no more French than any other high street cafe though it was a pleasant enough establishment.
After this agreeable interlude, we set out to look for the “event” and whatever it entailed (I still did not know). Along the way we saw two new items for my “collection”. The first was this drinking fountain, erected to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1887. According to the slightly unusual inscription, this “memento”, is it is described, was provided by 600 inhabitants of Teddington.
The second was this cattle trough, provided by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association. There is no dedicatory or commemorative inscription as far as I can see, and as the design of their troughs changed very little (unlike that of their drinking fountains) it’s difficult to know the date of this one. It is usual to find old troughs being used as planters, less usual to find the plants as well tended as in this case. Congratulations to whoever looks after it.
We soon arrived at the Teddington Gate of Bushy Park, to find that a large crowd had gathered. It turned out that today the Chestnut Sunday Parade and Fair was being held and this was what we had come to see.
We had missed the start of the parade but spread a rug on the grass and watched some of it. There were vintage cars and motor cycles, army vehicles and police cars.
Charities were well represented but so were the armed forces and various groups reviving ancient battles.
In fact, there were more armies than you could shake a stick at. I cannot help wondering why people think it interesting to spend their spare time playing at soldiers. It seems to say something rather unpleasant about the human race that there is so much interest in weapons and fighting.
We went deeper into the park which is a very pleasant green place with good facilities and I was glad to see so many people enjoying it peacefully.
The park has many water features which add to the beauty of the environment and also attract many kinds of water fowl. There are moorhens, coots, swans, and several different kinds of ducks and geese.
A pair of Egyptian geese were walking together, shepherding four beautiful goslings. Without wishing to anthropomorphise unduly, I think they looked proud of their progeny, and quite rightly so.
There was a fun fair with all the usual entertainments and people were making full use of it.
In an age of electronic toys and huge mechanical “rides”, it’s good to see young people discovering the pleasures of an older generation of fairground entertainments.
As well as the fun fair, the various clubs, charities, interest groups, and societies had their stands and anyone interested could visit, ask questions and talk about old times.
The various military groups, both modern and ancient, were present, of course.
It’s one thing if adults want to play soldiers and re-enact battles and rejoice in death and destruction but quite another when they involve children. Isn’t it hypocritical to make a fuss about child-soldiers in Africa and then to dress one’s own kids for war, even if only in imitation?
Fortunately, there were nicer and more peaceful things to see such as a wonderful array of vehicles through the ages.
As well as police cars there were other, even more vintage, vehicles. For example, compare the following with the modern London black cab.
All of the vehicles on show had been meticulously restored to showroom condition. One can only wonder at the hours and hours of work that must have gone into them.
Consider the interior, shown above, of another London cab of 1930s vintage. You would have a hard job finding a modern cab as clean and well upholstered as this one.
We went for a walk around this lake which we could see has a rather impressive fountain in the middle.
Intended by Christopher Wren to form part of his approach to Hampton Court Palace, this fountain became known as the “Diana Fountain” (after the Greek goddess of hunting) but the figure represented may actually be intended to be the nymph Arethusa. Either way, it is a very striking piece of work.
As we went around the lake, we found a duck family, a female with six lively ducklings. They had perhaps had a busy morning because they were now content to bask in the sun though the mother kept a careful lookout and stood ready to protect them when any of the larger fowl came near.
Later the drake, who had been swimming around dabbling and feeding, came to join the others. Being a bloke, he took no part in looking after the babies but spent the time preening. Far from defending his progeny, when danger threatened, he jumped into the water and swam away!
There was one moment of anxiety when this Egyptian goose swam close to the group and took a little too much interest in them. They all stood up as if to repel boarders! The moment passed and everything became calm again.
For their part, the Egyptian geese were quite active, grazing near us and among the people, quite unafraid of the crowds. They are very colourful and handsome creatures.
There were also Canada geese which are much more common in British parks but also handsome in their own way. They are more likely than the Egyptians to approach you in the hope of sharing your picnic.
This one came close and gave me the thoughtful stare but he (or is it she?) was unlucky as we hadn’t brought any food with us.
Even on a day like today when Chestnut Sunday draws large crowds, the park offers quiet places where you can stroll or sit and relax.
We had entered the park by the Teddington Gate but left it by the Hampton Court Gate which is at the opposite end of Chestnut Avenue, the main thoroughfare (map here) which, as noted above, was built in 1699 by Christopher Wren as part of the approach to Hampton Court. We stepped for a quick look inside Hampton Court Gardens whose grand gate is shown above.
We returned to Teddington’s small but busy station and soon had a train back to London Waterloo, where we rounded off the outing with a late lunch (or was it an early dinner?) at the Azzurro restaurant near the station.
Looking out of the restaurant through the glass door, you see a massive mirror just where people pass by. It’s fun to watch them because every now and then, someone will notice the mirror, see their reflection and become very excited by it, like the couple below.