Posts made in August, 2013

Chairman’s Tour: Day four – Twickenham to Brentford

This is the day of the discontinuity. We start at Twickenham. On the north bank, there is very little public access between Kingston Bridge and Twickenham, and the walk would just be along ordinary roads, lined with fine and valuable property, but ordinary nevertheless.  That does not mean we will omit that stretch from this tour, it just means we need to fix up arrangements with some of those very kind people who have offered their boats.  Water borne blog may appear without warning later on. There are some other parts which have been omitted as well, but we will get back to them, too. So, in the midday heat at Twickenham, rain is forecast, but it does not look faintly like it. I look at some early work by TLS, railings, paving and planting. It is starting to look a bit battered, but still stylish. Good design, like good tailoring, retains appeal even after hard wear. Poor design starts to look dated after the first shower of rain. The famous Eel Pie Island is opposite us. How I regret not going there in the good old days. Back then we would never have thought of it as a suitable place for TLS to install a sand martin bank. That would not have seemed to go with Rock ‘n’ Roll and the other two things. Times change and sand martin bank is well used, a great TLS achievement. York House gardens stretch down to the river, and bridge the lane called Riverside. It is exercise in democracy, the doughty 17th century burghers of Twickenham having foiled an attempt by the landowner to extinguish their right of way. Just as well since York House is now the home of Richmond Council, whose protection of democratic freedoms is justly renowned. The view downstream from the river edge of the gardens is another of the many that leave one gasping for superlatives. I have seen a few views on this trek, all with individual features, and I am still amazed. The great cedars and the balustrades along the walk give it an Italian feel, like the great gardens of Lake Como. Before we move on towards Orleans House, I am inveigled to “Step just this way to see some naked ladies.” It seems out of character, late night Beirut maybe, but not early afternoon Twickenham. But there they are, disporting themselves on a vast fountain in a grove of trees, in all their Belle Époque daintiness, a dozen nymphs in white Italian stone. They were, it seems, snapped up by the then owner of York House from a passing bargeman, who had learnt that his customer was bankrupt and would not be able to pay him. They may not be great art but they are great surprise, and well sited, and very much of a piece with the riverside walk. Their restoration, I learn, is another TLS success story. It would be wonderful to have the fountain working, something I can look into. We pass the house once inhabited by Mr Twining, (it looks as though it must always be tea-time in there) and come to a favourite pub, the White Swan. It is tucked away in this completely rural setting with the river in front of it. It is hard to pass by on a day when a pint would go down so well, but if I stop now I will not get much further. Heartened by this demonstration of my strength of will, I press on to the Orleans House Gallery. It is hard to believe this is a survival...

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