In 2009 Maeve, one of the founding members of The Bushy Park Walkers, wrote the following piece for Focus. It was read out, by Judith, to current members of the group this Christmas as part of our annual wassail, which Judith kindly hosts for us. It was interesting to hear how the group was formed but also we all felt that the descriptions of the fellowship within the group and beauty of the park still very much hold true for the group in its present form. Although we haven’t been quite as adventurous, no recent visits to France but we have managed day trips into London and Brighton and walks in Esher and Richmond Park. We also organise social events, meals and theatre outings.
The Bushy Park Walkers still meet every Monday morning at 9.30am at Laurel Gate and welcome new members, regular or occasional walkers, even just bank holiday walkers! All are welcome.
Bushy Park Walkers
In September 2006, Mary and I decided that we would like to take a regular walk in our beautiful Bushy Park. We would meet at 9.30 a.m. and go wherever our fancy took us – little did we know what we had started. As the weeks passed, friends from church joined us when they were able to and our numbers fluctuated between two and nine. Our walks have taken us to the Woodland Gardens, Hampton Court Palace (great for hot chocolate) the Kingston Gates and way beyond. We have walked the Thames towpath from Teddington Lock to Kingston; Teddington Lock to Richmond; Kew Bridge to Putney; the Isabella Plantation in full spring glory; travelled up to town and returned to Richmond by river boat; visited Chinatown for a dim sum with Margaret; gone to France by Eurostar; enjoyed Kew Gardens; hikes across Hampstead Heath and visited Kenwood House (incredible paintings, miniatures and an excellent café) enjoyed summer picnics, coffee and cakes at each others homes and a scrumptious lunch at Moira’s new home. Few places though, can compare with the natural beauty of our park, a continually changing scene in all seasons. We have watched swans and cygnets, all varieties of ducks and ducklings, tiny baby coots and moorhens. Other birds have included the parakeets, woodpeckers, kestrels, robins, blue tits, tree creepers, crows, jackdaws and a magical sighting of a bejewelled kingfisher in flight. The owls that lived in the great oak tree were ousted this year by the parakeets and sadly, we have not seen them. Mind you, there have been occasional glimpses of a flying Robert or a George on their cycles, off to do the Church banking in Teddington!
We have watched the Woodland Gardens being replanted and enjoyed the subtle change of colour and contours. The mighty carp in the ponds have taken bread thrown in for the ducks, tickling their webbed feet to get to it first. Mary and I have seen the mistletoe being harvested in the winter from the tops of very tall trees (and received a bunch for which we paid in the time honoured fashion – but don’t tell). It has been so funny in the winter to see the ducks skidding on the ice when the ponds freeze over and the swans looking clumsy and ungainly – no Swan Lake there. In the autumn we have heard the stags roar in defence of their harems, seen them chase each other and clash their antlers together in battle, generally behaving like stroppy teenagers. The Pheasantry Café is now open in the Woodland Gardens, the food and facilities are very welcome and in a perfect setting. The chef, a Lancashire lass, works specials from her own recipes, truly scrumptious. (I have taken friends there three times for lunch but the cook is going home for Christmas so don’t miss out) There is always something to see and wonder at in the park; open skies, cloud formation, sunshine and rain, soft breezes and cold winds. Beetles, butterflies, flowers, toadstools, birds, beasts and trees. We often stop and acknowledge how fortunate and blessed we are to share in such bounty. So, if one Monday you are free and the weather is fair, come and join us at the Laurel Road, Hampton Hill gate, around 9.30a.m. We go at a gentle pace (no jogging!) share each other’s company and talk the talk as we walk the walk.
M. E. W.
Here come the Bushy Park Walkers, Join in, if you fancy a stroll To the Tiltyard or Pheasantry Cafe, Where coffee’s our ultimate goal!
There go the Bushy Park Walkers, Exploring the park in group style, And when towering bracken impedes them, They happily walk single file.
Here come the Bushy Park Walkers, Walking in sun, shower or hail, Quietly strolling or chatting, Raising a smile without fail.
There go the Bushy Park Walkers, Treasuring the sights and the feel. Watching and wondering at nature, Almost too good to be real.
Here come the Bushy Park Walkers, Wearing what suits is the rule, Brollies and sunshades and beanies, Cosy but also so ‘cool’!
There go the Bushy Park Walkers, Intent on a few hours to steal, Talking and listening and laughing, Everything destined to heal.
Here come the Bushy Park Walkers, Do come, if you fancy a stroll. See the woodlands, the waters, the wildlife, Guaranteed good for the soul.
Judith Blakemore Lawton