Bushy Park.

South-west of Richmond, sandwiched between that florid neighbourhood, the equally affluent borough of Twickenham (Twickers for those in the know), and the considerably grittier Kingston is Bushy Park.
I’ve lived in London for almost a decade, I’ve flown above it dozens of time per year, but I’ve never been there. But, hey: if ever there was a time to pay it a visit that’s now, when the explorable world has shrunk from the entire globe to just what we can reach on foot.
It’s not as if Bushy Park is next door, mind you. All things considered it’s a 30-km hike, which Better Half (who considers it the best park in London) will accomplish by bike; as for myself, given my rather conflictual relationship with cycling in the city, I’ll go old school.
Five AM on a Saturday. The dawn spectacle is already underway and Kew is deserted, Canada geese the only witnesses of my passage. Richmond is equally dormant, homeless still fast asleep in their duvets. A publicity screen at a nearby bus stop proclaims that one night spent rough sleeping is one night too many, but I just need to look around to know the emptiness of our Mayor’s invective.
Twickenham – pardon, Twickers – is a treasure trove of different architectures, mixing small-town touches with 1930s tenements where you could all but imagine Hercule Poirot giving his little grey cells a workout. A Singapore Airlines jetliner rumbles overhead, covering the last miles of its journey to Heathrow. It’s almost as if normalcy has returned… almost.
Bushy park is silent or, rather, pleasantly devoid of human sound. Better Half waits for me outside the Strawberry Hill gate; inside, ducks chat amongst each other and blue-eyed crows totter around looking as if they’ve all received bad news and are pondering their next steps.

A flock of starlings, petrol-green birds that, in my airline days, we used to call The Kamikazes for their propensity to fly straight into jet engines, are doing a coordination drill. Parakeets, as much residents of West London as Benedict Cumberbatch, are having their usual morning shouting match. Coots, on the other hand, are still chilling out.
Wildlife is clearly not bothered by the sight of passing humans. We are at best registered, at worst ignored. Mama duck isn’t worried for her ducklings and the swan only flaps its wings because we’re from outside the TW postcode. Snob.
There are more than 300 deer in Bushy Park, Better Half informs me, but today it seems they’ve all gone someplace else for the weekend. That’s until we turn a corner and, squatting amongst the tall ferns, we find them.
A gang of young bucks are chilling out together, growing respectable antlers ahead of this year’s mating season fights. One of them is an albino, spots still – somehow- visible on its mantle.
I’m a horrible person. Show me a deer and it’ll be seconds before I can visualise it as a huge cauldron of stew with polenta on the side. Hey, in my defence I’m a quasi-vegetarian! And… aren’t we supposed to be eating local, free range, organic? Better Half pilots me away with promises of a burger, the first since January.
But then… disaster. Rabbits!
Admittedly, these little balls of fluff are way too small and big-eyed to risk ending up in the pot, but since we’re amongst friends I will confess to having nurtured deeply unholy thoughts involving red wine marinade and Vitelotte potatoes. That’s probably why Bunny, here, is looking a wee bit alarmed.
Better to move on before the irreparable happens. Time to start the long trek home. Bushy Park, we’ll be back.

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15 Responses to Bushy Park.

  1. equinoxio21 says:

    A very pleasant “local” safari. Grazie mille.


  2. Love all the wildlife photos, especially the one of the flock of birds on the horizon. I very rarely eat meat, but I have the opposite reaction to yours when I see wildlife… it further confirms for me why I don’t eat them. I just hate the thought of us humans thinking that animals are ours for killing and devouring. However, my hubby Ben, being French, often makes reference to rabbit pie or crispy duck on seeing the live versions, that make him not so very popular with me. haha


    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      I think it’s a European thing! If it’s furry and it hops or runs we’ll marinate it and stew it… thanks for reading Peta, I promise not to eat any of those animals!


  3. Bama says:

    Glad you weren’t on a survival mode when you saw those animals! This seems like a really nice small excursion from the city, away from people and closer to Mother Nature. That last photo reminds me of how the garden near my apartment looked like for months, when large-scale restrictions were in place in Jakarta. Today, the gardeners have returned to work and the garden is nowhere as “wild” as how it was until around a month ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “. . . a huge cauldron of stew with polenta on the side” made me giggle. That is how my husband tend to look at life. We have a good balanced diet together – he eats all the meat, and I eat all the vegetables. 🙂 That said, I think he is starting to become a quasi-vegetarian too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lexklein says:

    Some of the photos look like old pastoral paintings – very soft and calming. The sight of the bucks lolling in the ferns was such a surprise; I expected neither the bulky antlers nor the albinos! Deer are so sweet and heart-tugging that I can’t even imagine wanting them in a stew, even in my pre-vegetarian days, but your comment still gave me a good laugh!

    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      Apparently these guys can be quite nasty according to the Royal Parks signs scattered almost everywhere! We kept at a very respectful distance, and they were pretty chilled, but when they’re really big they can be quite threatening. That is if you can stop seeing them like gigantic cauldrons of stew… 😀 thanks for reading Lexi

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a magical place! In the middle of London. It must have been so wonderful to explore there with no other people around. Love the deer! Didn’t want to eat them, just watch them. My mum used to make unbelievable stuffed roast rabbit, and then pie with any left over meat. Did you really walk 30km? Impressive!

    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      Hey Alison, thanks for reading. Well, Bushy Park is not exactly in the middle of London, more like tucked away in the west corner of the city… but, still, it’s cool to have it there.
      Yes, 30km give or take! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Dave Ply says:

    Good thing you haven’t been in my back yard this summer. I can see it now: skunk stew, raccoon ragu…

    Liked by 1 person

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