28 December 2011

Work finished on Ham Pond

Now that the grey metal fencing and orange plastic barriers have been removed it is possible to see what the work on Ham Pond was all about. Actually I am little the wiser.

Clearly something has been done to what I presume is in inlet pipe but I do not know what. They must have done more that just protect the outlet with bricks and sandbags.

22 December 2011

Christmas soldiers

These bright soldiers look as though they've escaped from the rats in the Nutcracker and have made their way to Dance Active on Ham Parade to protect the young girls inside from anything evil passing by.

They also remind us that it is the Christmas Season far more than the silly little trees that have been stuck above the shops do.

17 December 2011

Pink crosses

I presume that the pink crosses mark the trees for death which would be a great shame as there are quite a few pink crosses scattered around the little pond in Ham Common Woods by Ham Gate.

11 December 2011

Landmark tree

At times the 65 feels like a tour bus offering views of places that are hidden to those on the ground (such as the Petersham Elephants) or just different views of familiar places.

An example of this is the downwards view of the dignified tree at the confluence of Petersham Road and Sandy Lane. It is also a reminder that you are about to leave the cosy village of Ham for the disparate collection of houses that likes to call itself Petersham.

7 December 2011

Resting boats

Following the towpath as it curls around Ham offers a variety of views on both sides and, not surprisingly, these include boats gently moored on the Middlesex bank. Despite being man-made they fail to break the tranquillity and they give us a few more colours to enjoy. Rivers and boats go naturally together.

4 December 2011

Trampled underfoot

These leaves have chosen to lie down and die on the towpath where, instead of the slow peaceful end that they might have expected, they will be subject to the constant hammering of boots and tyres and will eventually be trammelled into the mud. They deserve better.

1 December 2011

Lowest tide

November has come and gone and with it the river's freedom to rise and fall as much as it likes but now Richmond Lock is back in action and it stops the river from falling too far.

So here is a final reminder of what the low tides looked like in November if you happened to walk down River Lane at the right time.

29 November 2011

Crashing down

The line of trees along Dukes Avenue that once disguised the British Aerospace factory have been looking old and tired for some time, and some of them have already been removed, so it was not a great surprised when another one of them fell.

Luckily they all lean slightly away from the houses so the residents were safe. The railings along the front were less so and they now bulge out across the pavement.

26 November 2011

Large bridge to a small path

Douglas Footpath takes a circuitous route from the towpath to Petersham Avenue as it navigates past the scouts and the German School. For most of this journey it is a narrow path over uneven ground but the entrance from the towpath belies this modesty with a wide sturdy bridge that helps you cross the sometimes wet ditch.

23 November 2011

A walk on the quiet side

The tow path that follows the eastern boundary of Ham is a mixed experience. Parts of it are always busy, such as the section by Teddington Lock, while others are only busy on bright days or when a sponsored walk or cycle passes through.

I prefer to walk where and when it is quiet because then you are in environments like this and you can forget how crowded the rest of London is.

21 November 2011

Escape in to Ham Lands

I find the stretch of the tow path between Teddington Lock and Ham House a little boring due to the lack of views and even a little difficult because of the narrow rocky path.

So when a gap opens up to reveal a soft green path leading in to the heart of Ham Lands there is a strong temptation to heed the siren call of the scenery and to melt quietly in to the wilderness.

19 November 2011

Low water with lone boat

The regular rise and fall of the river and the frequent flooding of the tow path can lead you to think that the Thames is naturally tidal as it sweeps back and forth to Teddington Lock but for most of the year it is kept artificially high by Richmond Lock.

Then, every November it is allowed free reign and it delights is falling much lower, revealing more of the shore, stranding boats moored along the banks and allowing passage only to canoes.

17 November 2011

Works by the pond

A big hole has appeared alongside Ham Pond together with an assortment of metal and wood objects that suggest that some major work is under way. I presume that this is to do with the pond, which may be why it was unusually low at the time.

11 November 2011

Coloured markings

It is quite common to see runes painted on roads and pavements as heralds of either impending works or the arrival of a daemon from a mystical realm but these signs are normally scrawled in primitive chalk so the use of colour suggests that something very special is going to happen. If it does then I'll let you know.

8 November 2011

Royal Park Gates

I am not sure who, apart from estate agents, still uses the description Royal Park Gate for the houses built on the former BAe site but that was the name given to it when it was built about fifteen years ago.

In keeping with that name, there are fake gates at either end of the pedestrian and cycle route that runs through the development, starting at the junction of Dukes Avenue and Northweald Lane and leading on to the tow path beside the river.

Impressive though these brick pillars and iron gates are it is immediately clear that they do not close and were never intended to.

5 November 2011

Folding doors

As I've remarked before, Lock Road is a mixed bag that is overall has a pleasing and welcoming charm. It's the sort of road that you want to walk down. On the south side at the east end (between Back Lane and Craig Road) there are a few terraces of neat cottages that have shuffled close to the road so that we can appreciate them more.

The climbing rose, low clipped hedge and neat white gate are all lovely but the front door is special. The line down the centre and the hinge between the letter box and door handle reveal that that, very unusually, this front door folds as it opens.

I had the pleasure of walking through it once when the former owners were regulars at the Hand and Flower and some of us were invited back there for late drinks.

3 November 2011

Colourful flowers at Ham House

Most of the gardens at Ham House rely on shapes and subtle colours to make their point but the Orangery Kitchen Garden disregards that rule and goes for messes of bright colours instead.

The mixed planting in the parallel beds that run away from The Orangery cafe is there to service the house with food and flowers but it does not hurt that it is pretty too.

2 November 2011

Wandering in the Wilderness

The Wilderness is my favourite part of Ham House and Gardens and this picture gives a hint of why that is.

Firstly it's green. Very green. And green means natural. The grasses, hedges and trees all battling to demonstrate their superiority in greenness. Secondly, it's enchanted with memories of every happy childhood. Here you expect to see Rupert playing with the Bash Street Kids.

The scheming paths and the intransigent hedges always offer the promise of something new and exciting around the next corner. A pixie perhaps?

1 November 2011

New lavenders

Last time I was in the Cherry Garden at Ham House the old tired lavenders had been dug up and work was under-way to replace them with some young blood.The children are now nicely settled in and looking forward to playing in the wide open spaces between them.

31 October 2011


Here choices have to be made. The path ahead leads to Petersham, passing Ham Polo and the German School as it does so. The path crossing it offers Ham House and the river to the left while a right turn takes you on to Melancholy Walk and then away from Ham Lands and the harsh urban reality of Sandy Lane.

29 October 2011

A gathering of trees

Ham Common has a secret and it keeps it well. While it proudly flaunts the avenues of trees and the pond it is more discrete about the clutch of trees that it keeps away from the crowds in the middle of the north side.

25 October 2011

Stafford Cottages in October

Stafford Cottages has featured here a few times simply because both the cottage and front garden are very pretty. Even in October, when the trees across the road on Ham Common are rushing to lose their leaves before the serious cold comes to steal their life.

23 October 2011

Pink house

This is another one of those pictures that I've been meaning to take for some time but have been thwarted until now. Sometimes I have been put off by the poor light but more often it was a car on the drive that has ruined the composition. So I've kept walking past the house waiting for the moment to be right.

The fresh bold pink is the point of the picture but look past that and you can also see the cute garage doors, the pretty front door with neat side windows and the lines of flowers in the front garden.

21 October 2011

A house in Petersham

The houses in Petersham seem to have been added randomly over the years so that many of them now sit in unusual settings. This beauty managed to find a little space along the main road between Petersham House and the narrow lane heading towards the church and nurseries.

16 October 2011

Beat Box

The artistic endeavours at Ham Youth Centre have taken another joyous leap forward with the addition of Beat Box. Clearly this was once a humble shipping container but it is now a music studio and to celebrate this ascension it has acquires a colourful coat that proudly proclaims its new role.

13 October 2011

Boarded up

The unfortunate story of the Royal Oak, on the corner of Ham Street and Sandy Lane, has taken another sad step and it is now firmly closed and boarded up. We have lost too many local pubs in recent years, including another one in Ham Street, and I hope that this is just a temporary set-back and that it will be flourishing again soon. I'll certainly make a point of visiting when it reopens.

11 October 2011

A new welcome for bikes

I live about 1.5 km from Ham House and while I usually walk there I often go by bike and have had to put up with leaving it leant against a wall with a pile of others. Not now.

A number of sturdy posts have arrived at the far end of the car park ready to accept the challenge of looking after bikes while their owners explore the house and gardens.

Not only is this an excellent idea for meeting a clear need but they look good too.

9 October 2011

Secret field in Ham Lands

Stepping away from the towpath that follows the river as it flows East towards Ham House plunges you in to the secret world of Ham Lands with its mixture of woods, fields and confusing paths.

The towpath lies just past the trees on the right and there walkers, joggers and cyclists fight over a narrow rocky path unaware that a short distance away there is wide open space and peace.

7 October 2011

New steps

This is where I am going to fall out with some of my fellow members of Friends of Ham Lands as I really hate these new steps that have been inserted in to the middle of Ham Lands, and I hate the path that they lead to even more.

It used to be pure joy to leave one of the fields in Ham Lands by scrambling up a short muddy bank and then trying to follow an equally muddy path winding through bushes towards Ham Street. Then you could easily forget that other people also take that route occasionally but now the steps and the brutal wound above them (which some would like to call Majestic Way) quickly and depressingly remind you that you are in a residential area after all.

6 October 2011

Enticing path

This is exactly what I like most about Ham Lands, a narrow muddy path that disappears in to the trees to an unknown destination.

This particular path leads away from Ham Street between two lines of trees. To the left is the lane to the Ham and Petersham Rifle and Pistol Club and to the right is a field that sits quietly next to the river.

5 October 2011

Red ivy

I've used the title "red ivy" before, and it was for the same ivy three years ago. Then I showed the ivy sweeping along the wall and up the side of the house to expose its size and shape, now it's a close-up to reveal the detail of the leaves and their colour.

There is a lag between when I take photos and when they get posted here and this varied from a few hours to a few days so it is hard to make a direct comparison on dates but the photo from three years ago was taken two or three weeks after this one and this year the ivy has already died back considerably, its red swansong ended for another year.

4 October 2011

A corner of King George's Field

The eagle-eyed will have noticed that this picture is closely related to the previous one except this time the allotments that were the purpose of the picture have here drifted in to the background. This is the end of King George's Field furthest away from its main entrance on Ham Street.

Behind me is the lane leading up to the Ham and Petersham Rifle and Pistol Club. This is well protected by a sturdy metal fence that not that long ago replaced the old chicken wire one. I liked the old one because there were gaps in it that meant that you could continue on towards the river, but I guess that is why they replaced it.

Now, having arrived via the footpath past the allotments, the only other way out is via Ham Street.

2 October 2011


The allotments that fill the corner between Riverside Drive and Ham Street can be seen from either of those roads but, for the more adventurous, there is this view from the footpath that leads along the eastern edge.

The view on the other side of the path is much less interesting and even the presence of horses does little to inspire a flat brown field. Looking back to the allotments there is almost too much to look at and its the overall jumble that makes an impact.

1 October 2011

Red and yellow flowers

Teddington Locks fascinates me. It's the combination of solid purposeful brick surrounded by quiet waters on which colourful boats slip between Kingston and Richmond.

On the largest of the man-made islands that make up the collection of locks is a small but very pretty garden that the staff there maintain all year round so that even in late September there are bold colours to surprise and delight.

30 September 2011

Disappearing garage

I have featured a few garage doors here over the years for one simple reason; I love them. They are industrial architecture on a small scale supplemented by a splash of colour that can vary from bland to idiosyncratic.

What makes these doors special is the creeper that seems determined to devour the door and is making a rather good job of it. I wish it luck.

29 September 2011

Metal dragon

This startling dragon is exactly the sort of thing that you would really like to find in a garden one day but, equally, it is just the sort of thing that you do not expect to find.

28 September 2011

Tall flowers

The nicest thing about these flowers is that they are so tall that they burst well above the walls and fences that divide and hide the gardens in Broughton Avenue.

This is a rewarding road to walk slowly down as the lack of (hated) vehicular cross-overs means that all the houses have front gardens and many of them, like this one, deserve a little attention as you pass.

26 September 2011

A different view of Ham Pond

As a rule the photos that I post here are taken with my Canon IXUS 80 IS and are not modified in any way. This photo breaks both rules. It was taken with my iPhone4 and I used the Instagram app to apply one of its pre-set special effects.

25 September 2011

Solar power

The purpose of some of the Summer building works at Meadlands Schools is now clear with the pitched roof above the main entrance boasting two sets of solar panels.

This short roof points south-west so will only get sunlight late in the day and then only for part of the year. The longer roof is at right-angles to this and so faces south-east and so seems better placed to capture the sun but a few trees get in the way and it would be perverse to cut down trees to enable solar power.

24 September 2011

Wates willow

This typical view of the Wates Estate shows why it is so popular. The houses and flats are nice enough but what makes the Wates Estate is the generous spaces between them.

These spaces are nicely irregular in shape, often raised (as here) and are always well planted with flowers, bushes and trees. Sometimes there is even enough space for a large willow to stretch its limbs.

23 September 2011

Behind the manor

Behind the Manor House in Ham Street is a large open space that morally is part of Ham Lands but we are kept from away from it by a stern metal fence. At least we can peer through it at the neat grass and well kept trees and dream of being able to frolic among them one day.

22 September 2011

Where horses play

Ham Lands creeps South down from the river all the way to Sandy Lane where the tarmac forms a hard brutal barrier before the greenery continues with the playing fields of Grey Court School running either side of Great South Avenue. Melancholy Walk forms the border on the West but to the East lies The Copse and Ham Lands makes it all the way to Strathmore School.

Between the path and the woods is a small field where horses trot in circles alone apart from the occasional dog owner who dares to stray from the more usual routes.

21 September 2011

Entrance to Ham Lands

There are many ways to enter and leave Ham Lands but the busiest route is probably along the stretch of Riverside Drive between Croft Way and Thames Young Mariners.

This is a long border with lots of houses on one side of the road and only a little ditch and a little bank on the other side to keep the people out. Towards the road to Teddington Lock the bank is bigger and is a more effective barrier.

The first taste of Ham Lands here is of wide-open spaces with only a few ill-looking trees for company. A few long strides are needed to take you in among the thick trees and bushes that hide the houses of Riverside Drive so recently left behind.

19 September 2011


I've shown some pictures of Bramlings before but never a naked full-frontal like this.

Bramlings sits next to Ormeley Lodge but has only recently come under the Goldsmith influence and was Zac's official address at the last election.

As part of that influence, and very much in-line with Zac's stated beliefs (I'll not comment on those other than to say that I did not vote for him), the roof has gained some solar panels but, that apart, it looks much as it has done for many years.

There have been big changes to the house but these are at the back and you'll have to look up the planning application to see the details.

16 September 2011

Early Autumn colour

August has only just slept quietly away and brash September is already colouring the landscape with reds, oranges and browns.

This colourful abundance is in Parkleys. There is a clue to this in the exotic grasses at the front but you can also see one of the blocks of flats if you peer through the red leaves.

13 September 2011

Mead by the river

Others may argue with me but as far as I am concerned the souther border of Ham Lands in the copse by Royal Park Gate. Next to this, heading West and a little North, is a popular field that separates Burnell Avenue from the River Thames.

The wide open space edged by trees is typical of Ham Lands and it is this that makes the area so special. It is only the glimpse of the weir at Teddington that reminds you that you are deep within the M25.

10 September 2011

Red door in a white frame

I went back to Cardinal Newman's former house in Ham Street to see how the building works were getting on but the bright sunlight demanded that I pay attention to the front door and windows instead.

7 September 2011

Changes at The Royal Oak

Changes in my habits mean that I've gone from being fairly regular at The Royal Oak (regular enough for them to remember what I drink) to being just an occasional visitor but I do not think that its change in fortune has anything to do with me.

I have heard worrying tales from other regulars recently and so I see it as a positive move that the pub is back on the market and looking for a new loving owner. Ham has lost too many pubs to loose this one too.

4 September 2011

52 Sandy Lane

No. 52 Sandy Lane is another house that has made great effort to cast-off its bland heritage and to try and be more distinctive and attractive. And I must say that it does so with rather more aplomb and success than its near neighbour Sundial House that I featured yesterday.

There is lots to like here including the large plain windows, the warm grey colour, the first floor veranda with its architectural plants, and, settling it all off nicely, the splashes of orange announcing the house number. This is a house with courage and confidence.

3 September 2011

Sundial House

I do not feature Sandy Lane (or the similar roads off it) very often as, frankly, I find it boring with nothing noteworthy enough to be included. The road itself is dull too with the tall hedges on either side merely serving to emphasis the greyness of the road.

Lightening the gloom just a little are a few modern make-overs that are turning some of the blandness in to something more eye-catching and distinctive. One of these is Sundial House.

While I approve of the visual aspects of the changes I do not think that the either the size of the house or the location justify a price tag in excess of £2m.