I grew up near one of London’s big green spaces – Bushy Park, which borders Teddington and the Hamptons on the city’s southwestern corner. In this park I learned to ride a bike, built snowmen, played rounders in the summer as the deer looked on, and spent many a happy Sunday afternoon playing hide and seek amongst the bluebells and rhododendrons of the enclosed ‘Woodland Gardens’. However, it wasn’t until the last decade (now that I no longer live in the area) that I discovered the tradition of celebrating ‘Chestnut Sunday’ – the day in early/mid-May when the Horse Chestnuts (which line the main avenue) are believed to be in full blossom.
This week’s Theme Game theme is ‘home’. It’s funny how, no matter where I go, or where I live, or where I choose to settle, there is still a little corner of South West London which will always be my true home. My parents still live there, perhaps without them there it wouldn’t be the same. I know that when they sold my childhood home, 11 years ago now, I didn’t mourn for that particular house the way I thought I would.
But now, when I visit Teddington, Hampton Wick, Kingston, Richmond and Twickenham it does feel like going home. Places like Bushy Park (where I learned to ride my bike), The Teddington Cheese (which used to sell coal!), the Anglers pub down at Teddington Lock, the Broom Road ‘Wreck’ (as I always used to think it was spelled) where I swang almost high enough for my feet to touch the branches, before running down to the riverside to feed the ducks and make swings in the fronds of the many willow trees lining the banks, or climb into their gnarled branches for an impromptu picnic – all these places are a part of who I am.