I went for a walk along the River Thames from Kingston Bridge to Hampton Court Bridge.If you look over the bridge at Kingston you can see a few houseboats with moorings there. Each one has its own little garden on the riverbank, lovingly cared for by the river dwellers. I always thought it would be very romantic to live on a houseboat and envied my older brother when he did...until he woke up one night to find his home had sprung a leak and was slowly sinking!
When the sun comes out on a Sunday afternoon it is nice to walk along the riverbank, watching the swans and cyclists, then stop at a riverside pub for a cool drink and soak up the sunshine while it lasts:
A little abandoned jetty that I saw. By this point I had walked about 2 miles, and still couldn't see Hampton Court Palace. I was getting thirsty and stood by the jetty for a while to see if I could get a lift with a passing boat. Easily done in Positano, not so easy to do in London. On the opposite bank I could see another pub, The Albany, with a garden sloping down to the waters edge. I suddenly remembered sitting on the grass there, one night with some friends from college. We must have been sixteen, and we sat on the grass, giggling and sipping lemonade with Southern Comfort and watching the moonlight ripple on the river:
Finally the Palace appeared from around a bend in the river. The manicured gardens dotted with topiary hedges and graceful statues were encircled with two layers of fences and tourists wandered around exploring. On the tow-path I passed joggers and cyclists, lovers and families, dog walkers and old couples just sitting quietly on benches. I passed Hampton Court Landing Stage and thought that Henry VIII had probably stepped down right there from his Royal barge, followed by his wife of the season and all of their Court.
A tree covered with balls of mistletoe grows by one of the Palace towers. In Bushey Park, the other side of the Palace, you can see rows and rows of trees covered in mistletoe, while herds of deer roam through the grasses below.
Finally I arrive at Hampton Court Bridge and treat myself to an old English classic, a soft whip ice cream, known as the '99 Flake'. You didn't expect there to be a cake waiting for me at the end of my walk did you?