River Thames weekend walks

The weekend was a tale of two seasons. Saturday felt like the last day of summer with the sunshine, blue skies and very mild temperatures making it a perfect day for a walk by the river. This time I took the south bank of Thames and headed west towards Hammersmith. The river was busy with boats, kayaks, paddle boards; the walking path busy with runners, dogs, cyclists.

Sunday felt like a proper first day of autumn. I have gone out quite late and the fog was already rolling in around the river. I crossed the bridge to head towards the north bank and then walked through the woods first. Still lots of greenery mixed with the autumnal shades. By the time I got back to the river I welcomed a completely different world. The river disappeared in the dense fog making it a quite surreal place.

   
   
  
  

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Nature walk by Thames

I feel so lucky to live just 10 minutes walk to river Thames in South West London. I try to go for a stroll every weekend to escape hustle and bustle of the city. There is a path along the south of the river, usually very busy at weekends with people walking, running or cycling. Very beautiful, heading west,full of chestnut trees, elderberry bushes and lots of greenery. This time I cross the bridge and head north the river towards Fulham Palace and its grounds. It is quiet there, especially now when the garden and allotments are ready for winter.

The ginkgo tree had bright yellow leaves last week but none left yesterday. Only beautiful tree silhouettes growing tall in the blue skies.

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The blue skies made Thames looking blue and shiny as usually it is just grey and dark. The tide was very low and some people went down the ladder for a walk along very muddy “beach”.

IMG_4256 IMG_4261 Crossing the bridge, I always stop and look to the west. There are rowing clubs on the southern bank of Thames and park on the northern. I love the vastness of the river here and how gently it turns right.

Here is the peek-a-boo of the All Saints Church tower surrounded by beautiful cypresses. The church itself was featured in a movie The Omen and I really like its stonework.

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IMG_4278 It was very quiet and empty at the Palace Wall garden, apart from busy squirrels scratching tree bark and eating remaining green bits.

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IMG_4170  And these pretty orange berries popped out from all the greens and browns. I did a small research online and it looks like Jack-In-The-Pulpit plant and its wand of bright red berries. What an amazing name! But I might be wrong…Would have to go back there and have a closer look.

And it turned out I was wrong…

I shared my post on Twitter and got a reply from @FulhamPalace saying that red berried plant is Iris foetidissima.  Stinking iris. I love irises and what an unfortunate name! Or called roast-beef plant. Apparently it smells unpleasantly meaty when crushed. It has got pale yellow-purple flowers in summer and vibrant orange seed wands in winter. Would have to go back in spring to check on flowers and have a sniff too! I think it looks beautiful between browns and greens like little gems.

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Not only flowers, but I also love leaves, big and veiny or delicate and feathery. I found their structure fascinating.

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Who would have thought it is half December?

Nature walks, British weather and vitamin D

It was a surprisingly sunny day after yesterday evening drenched in rain. Bonfire fireworks, of course, was wet. But today was dry, full of colour and light. I was sitting by the computer, job applying and nervously glancing through the window. I didn’t want to miss the sun and a natural shot of vitamin D. Latest research has proved that people living in UK may have low vitamin D level. 20 minutes daily of sun exposure has been recommended, you can also pop a pill if the sunlight is a bit sparse. I am suspecting so called British humour and irony has been a side effect of vitamin D (read: sunshine) deficiency. It may also cause winter depression and winter blues. Short days in autumn don’t provide enough daylight and we could actually feel sad and low, with no energy. It could be not enough sun, just simple as that. Ah, at the end of the day, we are children of the nature. Scientists come up with the term SAD, the Seasonal Affective Disorder. Come on, you just feel sad and miserable cause there is not enough sunshine to keep you going. You want to hibernate and sleep like some wise animals do instead of facing wind, rain and harsh conditions.

No, no it’s not all that bad. Winters are really mild here over in London, at least it can rain and blow severe gales. Forget blissful whiteness and quietness of majestic snow.

Since moving to London 6 years ago, I mostly have lived down the River Thames, in South West London. Now, only 10 minutes to the river. What a better place for walks or cycling. Prefer walking during weekends. The walking Thames Path is highly congested by runners of both sexes, holding hands couples, families with kids, dogs and buggies, occasionally a briskly walking an elderly person with a walking stick. That obviously makes cycling a bit awkward and almost dangerous. You actually can’t cycle directly on a path running just by the river, there are red signs with the crossed bike. I should have taken a picture of it. Some people cycle anyway, but not so much on Sunday afternoon, at the busiest time, sort of after lunch. I said to myself, whatever the weather I shall go on a walk, alone or in a company of a friend. But today, was just myself. I felt a bit lonely and SAD, but nature and the blue sky always bring a relief to my troubled soul. I never tend to walk leisurely, instead I just picture my path before setting out and always stick to it. Well, mostly.         IMG_3989

So, we start with blue of the river and sky. Now, River Thames is never blue, rather brown or grey. All depends on the sky, today it was a beautiful blue harmony of elements.

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The mood has changed after wandering into woods full of greens, yellows and                  browns. Holy reminds about coming up Christmas season.

 IMG_4002           IMG_3994    Looking inside that tree felt almost too intimate…                             IMG_4016  

I picked some of the autumn berries: hawthorne, snowberry – isn’t a cool name?         IMG_4004     IMG_4009               

There were an etheric white sails on the river, joined by a rowing youth and a                      nearby boat of the commanding coach. Kids seemed to be tired…    IMG_4020     IMG_4022                                           

Last look at the pier. River take turns into the West. Sun is slowly setting and the light        is changing. Next time I should go out around this time and catch a glimpse of a                sunset.