Richmond Park

I’ve been inspired to write about the idyllic London bliss that is Richmond Park for a while, but this morning, oh this morning!

I woke, everything seemed muffled, softer sounding and brighter. I knew that ‘awful’ Beast from the East had returned while we were sleeping and had laid a softening blanket of chilly white fluff over everything. Even the wind sounded quieter.

On the driveway and a neighbour and I exclaimed with delight our joy of having the snow and blue sky here. Eight paws and two wagging tails were in the boot and I closed the car door, it was like stepping into a sound proofed room my ears listened as the tyres crunched over the blanket beneath.

Two very excited pooches leapt down into the snow and like a Musher I was dragged across the road to the bright expanse before our eyes. Tricky had forgotten his age and slow legs and his inner puppy shone as brightly as the sun. Everything was quiet. So quiet that nature sounded loud. It was like someone had taken the white noise of the traffic and turned the volume down or closed the door and we had entered Narnia.

Woodpecker, I am instantly transported out of London, I often hear woodpeckers drumming away their beat, reminding us all that they have their territory right there. It reminded me of when I first started walking in the park after dark and was surprised to discover that we have owls! Owls in London! I love that I have this wonderment just a short walk from my home. Each crunch of my own feet beneath me brought a sense of delight and then the squeal of two children, how perfect. Their parents hushed that they were going to be late for school but had to stop and come and play in the snow. HURRAH to that. Their son couldn’t – apart from yesterday – remember the last time it snowed and was over the moon with excitement. Surely being 10 minutes late for school or anything for that matter for a ‘live life by the moment’, moment of sheer delight, is worth it.

Crisp virgin snow and footprints, people had been up early, paw prints and oh wait for it, deer tracks. I smiled, as common as it is to see deer here, it is always a stunning sight. We followed along the tracks for a bit but then found our own path which led to new tracks, those that I’ve not seen before. I decided they must be rabbit tracks, but a little research and the fact that I could only see one track, shows that this could have been the prints of the park’s rarely seen Brown Hare.

Snow, particularly in the U.K. is known to cause chaos and make things inaccessible, however I was finding that this blanket had erased the paths and was inviting me to walk where I’ve never walked before. To experience the park like I’ve never felt it before. The aeroplanes seemed louder in the crisp blue sky and the squark of the parakeet perched on a snow lined branch was even more audible than usual.

Haaaang on a minute, was that a chicken I saw out of the corner of my eye? My world of wonderment and awe had screeched to a halt, I questioned myself, I mean I’ve seen actual cows in the park before, so in the scheme of things, chickens weren’t really an entirely ridiculous sighting. Convincing myself it had to be a piece of tree trunk purporting to be a chicken and edging a few steps closer it was soon revealed that my eyes were not too old yet. It was a goose, in fact it was not an it, but three Greylag Geese. Forgetting that I was accompanied on this beautiful morning by two inquisitive dogs I moved closer, my frozen fingers reaching for my phone to take a photograph. Boom, Alfie had spotted them and just as they did, he took flight, bounding through the air towards them. Their wings spread and their feet lifted long before he was near, but again, it was one of those nature filled moments of gratitude and giggles.

Turning back up towards where we had come from, our magical morning drawing to a close my four legged friends sniffed and nuzzled at everything they could, while leaving their communicative mark in seemingly random places. It was then that we were all brought to an awe inspired standstill. A stag, in all his glory suddenly appeared from the right, he slowed and stopped, bathed in the beauty of the sunlight, his red coat resplendent against the white backdrop. I blinked and lifted my now numb hand to reach for my phone and with that he stepped and then leapt forward and across the bush land. I wish, I wish, I wish, blinking could produce a printed photograph for all to see.

This is Richmond Park, a large undulating landscape on the outskirts of London, a former royal hunting ground with royal connections dating back to the 13th century. The Royal Park is understandably a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve and adopts an organic land management for it’s Isabella plantation. A place I was lucky enough to have my first date with my fiancé and share walks, runs and cycles with friends. It is also a world of beauty, wonderment and magically escapism, but best of all, it is a stunning reality that I get to indulge in often.

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