Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Great South-West London Outdoors

Dateline: South-West London

  London is roasting in a heatwave. Just like the old (possibly spoof) newspaper headline that hubby likes to quote: 70 Degrees Again and No Relief in Sight. Except it's more like 80 degrees with a stiff breeze. Wimbledon tennis started yesterday and on my journey down Wimbledon Hill on the 93 bus, I've been watching incredulously hordes of red-faced perspiring people, all bedecked in sundresses and panama hats, struggling up the hill mopping their brows. Some bright spark (probably an 18-year-old fitness fanatic) put on a sign at Wimbledon station that it was 20 minutes' walk to the tennis. In your dreams. I hope they all got there with the minimum heart attack quotient. I have the best idea. I watch on television. Meanwhile, as an antidote to the heatwave, here's a flashback to an interesting corner of Wimbledon called Cannizaro Park, home to some magnificent rhododendrons.

The day I visited, some weeks ago, it was after a torrential rainstorm (remember rain). Most of the blooms were soggy and nearly spent, though this one had a way to go.

The vast rhododendron garden was a wilderness of dark, damp paths, old steps and memories. It belonged in a Gothic novel.

It took me a while to find it - I'd strayed into some bleak, bare, walled gardens that looked as though they'd seen better days - perhaps they've perked up now it's summer. I could see rhododendrons enticingly peeing over the top of the wall but there was no secret door under the ivy. I had to tramp all the way round. But it was worth it.

You could explore here forever.

And cheerfully get lost in the wilderness.

There was a Gothic-looking aviary, full of birds

And goodness knows what else you might find

in case you were wondering, the giant teapot is a work of modern art.

 In the background is Cannizaro House, named after a Sicilian Duke who once lived here. It's now the Hotel du Vin, probably doing well out of the tennis.

 Tennyson, Oscar Wilde and Henry James all stayed there. The whole lot was sold to the council in 1948 for 40,000 pounds. That wouldn't even buy a parking space these days.

Coming up: Close by, a different great outdoors experience. Watch this Space.

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