26 February 2011

Boundary trees

The great beauty of Ham comes from the open spaces that surround it with Richmond Park to the east, the Ham Lands that follow the river on the west and north and the sports fields of the Hawker Centre to the south.

Cutting through Ham from east to west is a green corridor that includes Ham Common Woods, Ham Common and Great South Avenue with the playing fields of Grey Court School either side of it.

Crossing Sandy Lane we reach a thick tongue of Ham Lands that has broken away from the river and swept pass the minor obstructions of Ham House, Ham Polo and the German School before reaching the impassable barrier of the road.

Marking that barrier is a firm line of proud trees that do their best to hide the buildings of Ham. Behind them are the bushes butchered last year that are hoping to make a comeback. In the background is The Copse doing its best to look like the Wild Wood but the truth is it holds no fears and is actually quite charming once you get inside.

21 February 2011

Royal Coat of Arms

I have no idea why the Royal Coat of Arms can be found surrounded by plants on Petersham Road loitering by the road to the German School, and I don't really care either, but it's a colourful thing and that is welcome in a corner of Petersham that seems to have got the brick to plant ratio a little wrong.

18 February 2011

Two chairs

There is probably nowhere better locally to find interesting shapes and colours than Petersham Nurseries. There we find these two chairs weathered and shorn of colour through years of serving their time in the team room and now retired to one of the furthest corners where they can grow old comfortably together in peace.

15 February 2011

Wendy's second birthday

It's as surprising to find that a new shop is two years old as it is your own children. Both age unnoticed while you do not age at all. Dr Who ought to look in to that paradox.

The birthday girl, Wendy, is a joyful and colourful member of the local community and is easily the prettiest thing on Ham Parade. And, like every pretty girl, she likes to wear new outfits and her latest shouts the love of Valentine's Day across the busy street.

It is impossible to walk past Wendy's Workshop without feeling a little happier and a little jollier. It's like being young again.

13 February 2011

Red pots

Red is very welcome in an otherwise grey February. The colour of fire in a world of rain and frost. The colour of warmth battling against cold winds.

Petersham Nurseries normally relies on black pots to protect its plants and the few reds cluster nervously together as if fearful of the greater army that surrounds them. But they also know that despite being hopelessly outnumbered it is the reds that catch the eager purchaser's eye.

12 February 2011


These rustic fences have become a feature of Ham in recent years thanks to various projects related to London's Arcadia that is improving the landscape along the Thames, with mixed results.

I find most, if not all, of the fences to be inappropriate in placement and design but that's not their fault and their construction can still be admired for its simple use of natural materials.

11 February 2011

Ham Common looking North

The last in this short series of photos of Ham Common is taken from where the last one left off, by the avenue of trees pointing the way to Ham House, but this time we turn our attention away from the obvious view and turn to look North instead.

Here the countryside pretence is maintained despite the main road to Richmond (here it calls itself Upper Ham Road) carrying its unfriendly cargo of cars, vans, trucks and lorries just to the right of the picture. A bright red car heading towards Kingston almost breaks the Arcadian dream but, for the moment, the trees and the grass prevail and the illusion endures.

7 February 2011

Across the Common

One of the defining features of Ham Common is the avenue of trees across the centre that leads on to Great South Avenue and then to Melancholy Walk and finally to Ham House.

In recent years the Council, which I am not a great fan of, have been doing good work in plugging the gaps in the twin lines. The younger trees still wear wooden skirts for protection which makes them a little loud just like children should be.

It's just a shame that the otherwise grand view is somewhat spoilt by the cars parked on the far side of the common.

6 February 2011

Ham Common (South)

Ham Common is the defining feature of Ham and is its living heart where paths cross, people rest and play, and wildlife makes home.

From here Ham spreads its tendrils South along Ham Parade towards Kingston, East along Lock Road to Teddington, North-West along Ham Street to Ham House, North-East along Petersham Road towards Richmond and West along Church Road and Ham Gate Avenue to Richmond Park.

The view here is from Upper Ham Road looking along Ham Common (the confusingly named road that wraps around the common) towards the junctions with Lock Road and Ham Street where the pond lurks almost hidden by trees.

The sense of space, serenity and escape from the city is palpable. A walk along or across Ham Common is always a joy.