Posts Tagged ‘Twickenham’

I guess it had to happen someday…moving away from London.

views of london

when a man is tired of London……

Yes, we’ve moved….okay technically we moved nearly 3 months ago, but what with one thing and another I haven’t had time to sit down a write about it. So after living in the area; 4 years for her and 3 years for me, my daughter decided to move from Richmond to Broadstairs….


Broadstairs – a seaside town in Kent

Here’s the thing. My daughter wanted to have a change of scenery, to get away from the noise and hustle and bustle, pollution and grime of the big city…or as they called it in the ‘olden days’ – the ‘big smoke’. We may not have much smoke by way of coal and wood fires these days, but the emmissions from cars, trucks and vans more than makes up for that!! It always gives me a start when returning from a trip overseas to fly in over London and see the levels of pollution…..urgh, we live in that! So I was totally sympathetic to her wanting to get out of it. She had been longing to move to the countryside/seaside for ever such a long time, to escape to peace and quiet, but I suspect she held off so long because of me…knowing how much I loved London and because we really were, despite the freezing cold house in winter and noisy upstairs tennants, very happy in our little house in Richmond. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end and so the decision was made.


Richmond Riverside

After many weekends away and trips to various seaside towns, some that made her go ooooo and others that generated a blergh…….a trip to Broadstairs yielded a delightful little house in a quiet street in a quaint seaside town….and her heart was stolen….she was sold …so to speak. I got a whatsapp message with images of the house and a ‘should I go for it’….yes, of course you should…..if it’s what you want then for sure go for it. And so she did, put the offer in and a few days or so later I got another whatsapp image…..’I got it!!!’ I was thrilled for her and devastated for me…although I think that’s probably quite a strong word as I had more or less by then, due to previous circumstances mentioned, decided to quit London and the business of London and move away. So this was actually ideal timing.

viking bay broadstairs

Viking Bay – Broadstairs

We had a final breakfast at our favourite café in St Margarets; La Creperie Bretonne

la creperie bretonne

our favourite breakfast place in St Margarets

Boxes were obtained, sorting began and soon our possessions were being whittled down and packed into what one hoped would be a few boxes…hah!!! Never underestimate the volume of stuff one collects over the years. However, I did a massive purge and all the personal development tapes, dvd’s, videos and boxes of books that I very foolishly wasted my money on in 2007/2008 took a hike….in other words, I destroyed the lot!!! Yes, I spent hours ripping up tapes, tearing books into shreds and destroying cds and dvds. I know this seems like a wilful act of destruction, but my feelings about this invasive industry still run very high. I am still smarting at the pervasive and underhand tactics they use to get you to sign up to their very expensive courses and I’m still paying the price; emotionally, mentally and financially. They sell you on the idea that by doing their course, your life will change….well it did, but not for the better…..especially financially. (and yes, I have written the book!) LOL But I digress….

So finally after much packing and dumping and selling and heart-wrenching decisions, we were packed up and ready to go…..and at the beginning of October (yes, I know, it’s taken that long) the van (please note the word ‘van’) arrived to collect all our boxes and things to begin the long trek to Broadstairs. It’s 80 miles…..and a very long 80 miles too may I add. We’re now closer to Belgium and France than we are to London!!! Go figure!! hahaha.

viking bay broadstairs

beneath the clouds is Belgium – sunset in Viking Bay

Anyway, getting back to the ‘van’, my lovely daughter had moved any number of times in her life, but never a major move besides one some years ago that we would rather consign to the annuls of history along with the jerk who was her husband at the time, and she had acquired quite a lot of furniture and household stuff in the four years we lived at Richmond. So when she got a ‘man-with-a-van’ and his wife in to give her an estimate of volume and cost, both she and they totally underestimated the amount of stuff there was…..and lo and behold the van, when it arrived on moving day, was too small. However, I am very good at puzzles, and did make a really good effort to squeeze everything in, I heaved and moved and shoved and jiggled and juggled boxes and furniture, and managed, much to the amazement of the van man and his sidekick, to get so much stuff in to the van that they were well impressed. In fact I quite simply put them to shame. I did in the process end up with a body covered in bruises and bloodied arms and shins. I looked like I had been to war! They should have paid me for doing their job. Hah!! But unfortunately she had to quickly scout around and order another van to collate and take with her the rest of the stuff left over. We ended up with a truck that cost as much again as the first quote and was that big it could have easily managed the whole bleeding lot. But, since much was already packed in the van and they had a few days ago given her the option to cancel, we felt we had to just go with what we had…and I wasn’t of a mind to unpack the bloody van again.

So everything in and away we went, barring some of my stuff……I hung onto the house as long as I could and since we had paid rent up to a certain date, I was determined to do as much in London as I could before I had to go. Crikey, it’s a long way….not to Tipperary but to Broadstairs. We finally made it and then there was unpacking to do. Firstly, I got stuck in and offloaded the van in double quick time, they really should have paid me….and very foolishly I didn’t get them to take the boxes upstairs, but had them pile the darn things in the dining area. Urgh!!! Stupid. Then they tried to get the bed bases up the stairs…..hmmmmm, yes, well….bearing in mind it was an old house, the people were not only thinner but shorter in ‘those’ days and as it turned out the damn staircase was too narrow and turned at too sharp an angle to allow us to get the bases past the first few steps. Bleeding heck…now what? So the mattress went up and (please don’t tell the landlord) but we took the bannister off the wall the next day and tried again…still to no avail, and to this day they are still stacked in the dining area…..but the boxes…..yes the boxes. Hmmm.

Now you might ask, where was my daughter while all this was happening…..well she, poor baby, had just come out of surgery after having a heart monitor stuck into her breastbone and was incapacitated. So Mama, did her thing….I’ve also had years of practice after having moved house on an average of about once every 6 months before she was born and 14 times in the 21 years after that, I had plenty of experience.

Once the vans were unpacked we set out to explore and have a very welcome cup of tea. Broadstairs is an absolute delight.

beach huts broadstairs

colourful beach huts in Broadstairs

Quirky shops, narrow roads, a rumbunctious pub, all sorts of fantastical items that have washed up onto the beach over the years, fantastic views, long stretches of secluded beaches, unobstructed views of the sunrise over the sea, a history that goes as far back as the Vikings and probably further, hence the name Viking Bay, a chapel that dates from the early 1600’s, little tea shops and home to the Charles Dickens Museum and Bleak House!!! Yes, yer man Charles Dickens used to summer in Broadstairs. Some of his books were written there and of course ‘Bleak House’….sitting for all the world bold as brass on the clifftop.

Bleak House, Broadstairs

Bleak House, Broadstairs

Marvelous. Once I had my girl settled in as much as could be, I headed back to London for my great London walkabout and my goodbye London excursions. Sadly I didn’t get to do or even see everything I wanted but I did a heck of a lot.

travelling in the uk

my luggage – from St Margarets to Broadstairs


Once I finally cut the strings that bound me to London I hopped on a train with 2 large, very large suitcases, (one suitcase handle broke before I had gone 10 feet along the pavement to the station) and a reusable bag of groceries…..and made my sorry way to Broadstairs.

First to Clapham Junction, then to Broadstairs and a cab to the house. Not at all sure how I did that journey, but it seems I must have managed because I did eventually get to my destination. Mind you the staff on South West Trains were ever so helpful and the Train Conductor helped me on and off with all my bags, bless him.

And so to Broadstairs.

viking bay broadstairs

Viking Bay – Broadstairs

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Today surely heralded the start of spring….a sky that started out grey and dull and as the morning progressed turned into a blue skies and balmy breezes kind of day, the sun beating down, sparkling on the river like shards of diamonds.

a walk along the thames path

sunshine sparkling on the water

The day started real early, my daughter had a course in town to attend so we rose early (but not too bright) and had tea together before she set off.  I hopped online (what else) and before I knew it, twas time to go.  I had a meeting/catchup with a friend I met through twitter.  It was months since we last met up…way too long.  The day was developing into one of those amazing spring days, days that you can only appreciate after a long, dark and cold winter.  The air was filled with the thrilling, trilling of birds tweeting!  A wonderful sound, albeit the sound of defending territory.

I headed towards Twickenham.   Along the way my eye was captured by the daffodil faces dancing in the breeze in Oak Lane Cemetery.

oak lane cemetery twickenham

even in death there is life

My immediate destination was Sweetie Pies Boutique Bakery in Church Street – a favourite venue, a frequent place of merriment and munchies…..english tea and the best scones and cupcakes in town.

sweetie pies boutique bakery twickenham

cupcake heaven

Today was no exception!  The meeting was fun, filled with chatter, plans and ideas – the time flew by way too fast.   All too soon our time was up, goodbyes were said with a promise to meet again soon.  Church Street looked gay and cheerful, lined with Welsh and English flags, bustling with shoppers, the pubs packed with revellers preparing for the days rugby game soon to start.  I strolled down to the embankment, the smell of barbecued meat hanging heavy in the air.

Church Street, Twickenham

By now the line of the sky was hard to distinguish from the water, blue blue blue.  The sun sparkled diamond bright on the waves, ducks and geese squabbled noisily on the banks.  The alabaster white of the York House statues glowed eerily in the shade of the trees.  White blossoms on the trees by the bridge a splash of joy after recent cold, dark days.  On the lawns of York House a little boy played, screaming with delight as he kicked the ball.  From there I headed off to Orleans House Gallery; currently being refurbished.  The whole of Twickenham was out for a stroll, dogs bounding along, children running and shrieking, filling the air with joy.

york house twickenham

York House, looking splendid in the sunshine

On an impulse I decided to cross the river with the ferry! For just a £1, you can cross from one side to the other.  Once there, I strolled along to Ham House, revelling in the warmth of the sun, stopping to chat to a horse along the way, and whilst giving him a scratch behind the ear….he bit my hip!! cheeky chap.

cheeky chap

From there I made off along the Thames Path towards Richmond, dodging cyclists and walkers I stopped frequently to take photos, unable to resist despite the fact that I have dozens already.

Boats chugged busily along the waterway.   Richmond Bridge looked magnificent, perfectly reflected in the water below as buses and cars crossed back and forth; stop-start in the queue.   The embankment was busy with strollers, cyclists, joggers and all the people that hibernate in the winter; today out on the lawns basking in the sun.  The tide was down and not expected for a while, so the rugby folks gathered in noisy groups outside the pubs, still a few hours to revel and quaff their beer.  A queue of customers lined up in front of an ice-cream van parked on the side, an easy decision in the heat of the day.

tide tables

The stream that runs alongside the old deer park was rushing back into the river as I walked by, gurgling noisily down the drain as the tide receded, a train rattled loudly across the old Victorian bridge on it’s way to St Margaret’s Station, planes flew overhead on their way to Heathrow and I made my way towards Richmond Lock, looking splendid as always.

richmond lock

what a view - Richmond Lock

Richmond Lock is surely one of the best views in London, and something I get to see every morning on my way to the station.  If it was not for the fact that I had loads to do at home……I would have kept walking all the way to the sea!

I made a video of my photos that you may enjoy!

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Last week I had a few days of much needed rest and relaxation!  aka a few days off! Although I was ok to stay in the house whilst off duty it was my preference to head on over to spend some time with my daughter on the other side of London.  A lovely side of London if I may say. Initially I was meant to travel through on Thursday and stay till Sunday but she suggested that since I was free would I attend a presentation that she was conducting at the Westminster Library in Leicester Square.   She has been giving these presentations for some months now about Social Media and whilst I often get to preview them online and edit them beforehand, I had not yet actually seen the ‘Angel’ in action!  Since I was on leave and technically free I accepted the invitation with alacrity and delight.

So with a smile on my face and my packed bags trailing behind me (they are well trained) – I made my way to Leicester Square.  I was amazed to find that the square was lit up with the Xmas fair already firmly established and lighting up the night sky (I will blog about that on 3 days in London.info).  It was quite dark by then and the first thing I did was grab my camera (of course) and hanging onto my bag I whizzed around the square snapping away.  I love the seasonal events that happen in London and although winter is a long and hard slog of cold, wet and windy days (much like a baby’s nappy) I love how beautiful everything looks with all the lights that are draped everywhere for Xmas and the carousel looked fab!

the faire comes to Leicester Square

Then, avoiding the crowds, I slipped down the narrow lane that leads to the library.  Eagerly anticipating the event; I was not disappointed. The ‘New Media Angel’ is a genius and an excellent presenter.  Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the evening and even though I had pretty much seen the material beforehand, still I was totally engaged and learned a lot.  It fascinates me just how much knowledge she has and how entertaining she is; keeping you totally involved the whole time.

Unbeknownst to the audience she was in fact not very well and during the Q&A afterwards collapsed with a blackout and we then made a very unwanted trip to St Thomas’s hospital for a thorough check up.   It amazes me just how long patients are kept in ‘the system’.  We could probably have left at least 3 hours before they finally discharged her.  I applaud the ambulance services who were there in no time at all and tended to her without fault; kindly and gentle.  The hospital staff were lovely and then we met the Doctor!!! What an eejit!  Bear in mind please that he is a Doctor and that we have a huge problem with MRSA in this country due to lack of hygiene in our hospitals.  He popped his head around the curtain and without further ado and no introduction he proceeded to draw blood.  First attempt was painful and unsuccessful and it is beyond my comprehension why he tried to draw it from her wrist!  So off he goes to get a 2nd set of blood-drawing equipment and without washing his hands or swabbing her arm he set about trying to draw a sample. STOP!!!!!! The first time around I had not noticed what he was doing, but 2nd time around I was horrified to note that not only was he poking at her arm to raise a vein with his bare finger; his bare unwashed finger but he had not swabbed her arm with the usual cleanser!!! I was like….’Hello! arent you supposed to clean her arm first?’ and then the eejit (I could use a much stronger word here but I won’t batter your sensitive ears) says ‘Oh! yes I suppose so’ and off he goes to find a swab!  U.N.B.E.L.I.E.V.A.B.L.E!! I was ready to give him a slap.  Anyways, he takes the blood and I’m getting ready to give the Doctor an account of this useless individual when he minces back in and says ‘ Hello, I am your Doctor’.

Geez!!! My jaw hit the floor.  Anyways long story short they did all sort of tests and finally let us out the zoo. It is of great concern to me that despite the bottles of readily handy bottles of anti-bacterial gels and the notices everywhere about the ward, warning patients and staff to ‘WASH YOUR HANDS’ this numbskull did not!  No wonder that patients end up contracting the nasty MRSA virus!  Anyhow, finally they discharged her and we hailed a cab to whisk us off through the dark and quiet streets and at just after 4am we reached home and to bed.  Thereafter I lost a day….not physically but mentally.  I do not know where the day went or even how the day went except to say that not only did I forget to phone as friend as arranged but I also completely forgot to phone my sister for her birthday…only remembering late on the day! 😦

But what a delight it was to see my daughter’s new home, to walk about the neighbourhood and discover new places.  The next day, we went into London by train for a business meeting,

off to London by train

which was great fun and I got to do a 60second presentation on 3 Days in London which was pretty cool.  I love those kind of meetings; the members all do such interestings jobs or have such interesting companies and the food was good! Yummy. Then I headed off to Marble Arch to take photos for my blog and to just meander about town to see if I could discover something new….and I did!  I strolled along a street in Marylebone and discovered a quiet square just off Great Cumberland Place with a beautiful memorial to someone, someone whom after reading the inscription, I think should have a far more prominent position in town. Roaul Wallenberg who saved 230,000 jews from the Nazi war machine.

Raoul Wallenberg

Thereafter we, me and CJ met up and headed back home and settled in for a night of R&R and TV.  Next day I managed to drag myself out of bed at a decent hour and headed off to Teddington for a tweetup with Guide2Richmond aka Patriona, and a friend of hers and their kiddies at the most delightful ‘Happy Potter’ tearoom for chat and tea.  The Happy Potter is just lovely; a bright and airy venue where you can take the kiddies along to paint and decorate different pottery items, perhaps a xmas gift for granddad or nana  or something fun for Mum or Dad.  A terrific place to happily enjoy an hour or two.  There is a couch there with my name on it….. I will be back!! 🙂

a couch with my name on it.... at the Happy Potter

After tea I went walkabout to explore the town.  Teddington is pretty much a duplicate of many towns in the UK, towns that have seen history come and go, Kings and Queens, Popes and Princes, plague and pestilence.  Breaking with tradition the high street is named ‘Broad Street’ but in keeping with other towns and villages, is lined with all the usual High Street shops: clothes, food, greengrocer, florists, hairdressers, toyshops, a butcher, a baker, no candlestick makers but plenty of little charity or antique shops, banks, pubs and restaurants and to my delight….Greggs!!  yay…lunch. Although my diet is primarily meat free I have a weakness for Greggs sausage rolls.  They are delicious, most likely laden with enough salt for a week, but quite delicious.  Fortunately I only get to eat these yummy bits of unhealthy food about 1x a month….so hopefully no harm done.

I continued my march about and whizzed along the winding road and passed the usual little church tucked away behind a hedgerow, the yard dotted about with ancient headstones and memorials, timeless reminders of folk long gone, and in many instances largely forgotten.  I love to wander though the churchyards and read the inscriptions, some of which are mostly invisible with just the occassional name or date still readable.  It is always so sad to read how in some instances whole families die within months of each other or to see the name of a beloved child that died within a few days or weeks of birth.

St Mary with St Alban Church - Teddington

The key to visiting these villages/towns is to walk just off the main street where you can find some fascinating cottages or houses that date from the 1800’s or even as far back as 1500’s, and Teddington was no different. 

Peg Woffington Cottage - 1753

 Closer to the river – the Thames flows nearby, I found a row of delightful fishermens cottages, one of which had been converted into a pub with a history. 

The Tide End Cottage - pub on the banks of the River Thames at Teddington

 I took a quick walk across the suspension bridge that spans the water at what is known as Teddington Lock. A short walk along the other side, just because….and then I made my way back into town and along the way passed a magnificent church designed in the French Gothic style by architect William S Niven.

Landmark Art Centre - formely the Church of St Alban the Martyr - Teddington

Formerly the Church of St Alban the Matyr, after years of neglect and vandalism, this magnificent structure has been restored, listed as Grade II and converted into an art centre – Landmark Arts Centre.

Walking through the churchyard I was lucky enough to pass the side door as someone else exited…..and without qualm I slipped through the open door and into the church for a quick exploration. What a gorgeous interior; a lofty ceiling that soars skywards, beautiful stained-glass windows and dark corners make for an interesting visit. 

lofty ceilings that soar to the sky and colourful stained glass windows

 I had my camera in hand and despite that there were a number of people about, no-one even glanced my way. Probably thought I was there for a local paper or something 🙂  When I went to the office to ask for historical literature, was the first anyone queried how I got in and informed me very politely that the church was actually closed……..yeah!!!! Too late. haha!  The evening was spent with a friend of hers from way back when for supper at a lovely restaurant in Richmond.  The waitress was superb, the food was good and the company great.  After the meal, leaving what was by now a very noisy restaurant and venturing out into the chilly evening we strolled along the banks of the Thames and wandered around town then headed home on our god-given transport 🙂 It is but a short walk from there to there.

The next day was spent just relaxing and chatting with some business planning to be done.  So off out into the chilly air in the afternoon we had a quick walk to Sweetie Pies where we enjoyed the yummy cupcakes and a pot of tea and plenty of laughs. 

cupcakes at Sweetie Pies

At 5pm we got turned out; nicely….. of course, and took a very short walk along the river to photograph the river.

that lazy ole river just keeps rolling along....

 …it was too darn cold for a longer walk, then home for supper and more R&R…. hey I was on holiday! 🙂 Along the way we discovered an old cemetery and not to leave any stone unturned (joke) we enjoyed a few minutes wandering about and reading up on the history.

1800's cemetery

Back home, it was supper ‘a la Cindy’of braised sausages, mushrooms and mash with rich thick gravy, then we settled in for a night of Strictly Come Dancing and X-factor; a late night topped off with a hug then off to dreamland.  I slept on the couch in the lounge and snuggled into the cusions and so to sleep….mmmm or not!  The blokes upstairs were really noisy and clomped around the room above till 3am in the morning!

Next day was an opportunity for me to just laze about in bed and read……a rare treat!  We had planned to take a walk to the deer park but the day was chilly and the house was cozy, so we didnt get very far….a late breakfast was enjoyed and then we got stuck into some strategy and planning for 3 Days in London.  Brilliant. Finally got the bones of a plan on paper. And so to home and back to work….on duty from 11:30 this morning I am already missing my freedom.

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Halloween at Sweetie Pies in Twickenham

Yesterday my daughter and I went to Sweetie Pies Boutique Bakery in Twickenham to do some strategy planning for her business (just an excuse really to partake of the cupcakes 🙂 ).  Sweetie Pies as you have probably gathered is one of my favourite places to visit when I am out this way….their cupcakes are heavenly and the store is quaint and adorable.
Yesterday was no exception and when we arrived I noticed the cutest cupcakes on display for Halloween.

Sweetie Pies cupcakes in Twickenham

In fact why not head out to Twickenham for Halloween in Church Street this coming Saturday 30th.  They are marking the event with a host of goodies and fun entertainment for all the family.
Sweet Memories will have face-painting from 12 midday and a trick and treat corner, all for £3.50 per child.
Sweetie Pies often host themed events and with Halloween coming up they are planning a Cupcake decorating day on Saturday 30th October. The workshops take place in the Sweetie Pies creepy courtyard (weather permitting) between 4-5pm (ages 4-7) and 5.30-6.30pm (ages 7-12) for £12.

Spook-tastic Halloween cupcake decorating at Sweetie Pies

Langtons will be holding a Spooky Story time from 2pm in the childrens section – Free.    In The Square you will be able to enjoy the witches scene from Macbeth performed by the Mary Wallace Theatre. There will be apple-bobbing from 5.30pm and a Fancy Dress Competition at 6pm with prizes for the scariest costume.
The Fox will be hosting the Eel Pie Pirates; a live local band from 8.30pm onward. So go on down and enjoy their grooves.

We had a most enjoyable couple of hours at Sweetie Pies; chatting, planning and drinkings copious cups of tea. Being autumn, the days tend to darken rather early so by 5pm when the shop closed we headed down to the river for a stroll along the riverside.  The stroll only lasted about 5 minutes….it was too darn cold, so quickly taking a few photos of the setting sun over the river,

sunset on the Thames at Twickenham

 we then made our way back to St Margaret’s which is where she is now living.  On the way we passed an old, now disused 19th Century cemetery and slipped through the massive wrought-iron gates for a look around. 

19th century cemetery

 Although the cemetery was closed in 1955, generations of people living in Twickenham have ancestors buried there. Here you will also find buried contemporaries of Nelson and Wellington as well as a grave from the First World War.  The cemetery is now a haven to a multitude of wildlife; a tawny owl, squirrels, foxes, pipstrells, the great spotted woodpecker and many other smaller birds.  A suitable venue for the season.


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last weekend was my daughter’s 30th birthday and together with some friends we gathered in Richmond to celebrate. One of the things she wanted to do for her birthday, was to hire a boat and go rowing on the Thames. 

our very not so big boat

The plan was to row from Richmond to The White Swan in Twickenham, moor the boat, have lunch and then row back to Richmond.

I thought the idea was great and encouraged the idea with enthusiasm. Ha! and then we got there!! Different story. Everyone else was really excited and I was…..trepiditious!  I was quaking at the knees!  🙂 LOL! and totally ridiculous….I have no fear of water, love boating, am a strong swimmer and have done this numerous times in the past.  The closer we got to launch the more I quaked at the knees. I insisted on life-jackets all round (which made us look totally ridiculous), and questioned the sensibility of this venture.

Last in….I rocked the boat to much hilarity from the others and not so much from me.  Then we settled in and to my horror we left the pier……h.e.l.p!!!  Actually it was brilliant, we laughed uproariously as we went round in circles at the rowers attempts to leave the jetty. 

Cemanthe having hysterics

 Eventually we got underway and amidst much laughter and a stream of instructions from the back-seat non-rowers we made our way to the far bank (per the instructions of the boat man), and away we went.

I can highly recommend this as a great way to spend an hour or so.  Sitting prettily in the stern, we (me and Demjules), gave a continuous stream of instructions….too far, turn left; no….. more to the right, mind theres a boat approaching…whoops mind the paddleboat, and so we made our way along the river to Twickenham. 

arriving at The White Swan

Arriving safely we moored the boat, stepped gingerly through the slippery mud (I did not want to add a spill in the mud to my repertoire) and settled in at our table on the patio. 

good food.....fine friends

Lunch was great, the company even better,  the weather played fair and the food was yummy.   Then it was time for birthday wishes and voila …..30 cupcakes appeared!

social media and cupcakes

We are beginning to look like cupcakes.

Sweetie Pies cupcakes

Then it was time to return the boat and off we went….row, row row your boat, gently down the stream…. merrily, merrily life is but a dream!

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My daughter recently moved to Twickenham, and after hearing her raving about the place and following her comment that she was never moving back to London, I had to go visit and find out why!
Twickenham is located on the River Thames between Richmond and Teddington; an ancient borough with a fascinating history dating back hundreds of years.  The earliest written evidence for a settlement is a grant of 704AD, mentioning “Tuican hom”.  By the time of the Norman Conquest it was part of the Manor of Isleworth.  By the 18th century it had become the ‘classic village’ and was described as having an “abundance of curious seats”, as it attracted poets, painters and writers including Sir Godfrey Kneller, The Court Painter in 1709, Alexander Pope in 1719, Mary Wortley Montagu in 1720, Horace Walpole in 1747 and painters Samuel Scott and Thomas Hudson in 1749 and 1756.  various members of the French Royal Family, in exile, spent time here in the 1800s.
I arrived via bus from Richmond and enjoyed the quaint houses and churches along the route. The  high street of Twickenham – King Street – is nothing to write home about….it’s lined with the usual array of stores and charity shops, Starbucks, banks, pubs and what-not!

an aerial sketch of Twickenham and the area we explored

Just off this main thoroughfare is where you will find the character that lies behind this town.  Church Street; a stroll along this delightful street will leave you enchanted with it’s character and quaint albeit modern shops.  A book shop,

a few restaurants and an ancient pub or two line the street on both sides as well as a number of other little shops and stores. Church Street has always been at the heart of Twickenham village, dating to back to when the parish was largely a farming community using the river for transport of goods and people.
Sweetshops, tandoori, bookshops,

Langton Books - 44 Church Street, Twickenham

 a pub and a gorgeous tea-room are a must-see.

Passing a store named Sweet Memories we stepped inside and indeed it was sweet memories….jars and jars of sweets that reminded me of the sweet shops we used to inhabit as children back in the 60’s. A delightful lass who goes by the name of Carla charmed us with her cheery greeting and sunny smile.  Sweet heaven all round.

Sweet Memories of Church Street Twickenham

Further along is the aptly named Sweetie Pies Boutique Bakery….

Sweetie Pies Boutique Bakery - 13 Church Street Twickenham

walking through the door your nostrils are assailed with the delicious aroma of cake and icing….eyes widening with delight as you first see the gorgoeus little cakes on display; decorated with swirls of butter icing and topped with icing roses, ice-cream cones, ducks, stars, hearts, 100’s and 1,000’s, in an array of pastel colours designed to tempt the tastebuds and makes it hard to refuse, never mind decide which to choose.

cupcakes at Sweetie Pies Boutique Bakery

A short walk takes you past The Fox Pub,

The Fox Pub - oldest pub in Twickenham - Church Street

 probably the oldest pub in Twickenham, steeped in local history and first mentioned in the Sion Manor Court Books dated October 1700, by it’s previous name The Bell. It changed it’s name to The Fox around 1749.  At one time time there were at least 4 other pubs in Church street none of which remain, besides The Eel Pie Pub est 1777.
At the far end of Church Street is a little piazza, with a number of shops, none of which I really registered, coz I was so enchanted by the story board and a giant sized chess board! What fun 🙂

a summer piazza on Church Lane

chess set

Across the road from Church Street is of course the church!  St Mary’s, not one of the most beautiful or even quaint looking churches I have ever seen, but pleasant to the eye none-the-less.   The churchyard was sadly quite bare with most of the graves probably dug up in years gone by and the headstones that line the perimeter walls the only reminder of the folks buried there (or not).
Traipsing down Church Lane we passed Flood Lane,

Flood Lane

so named coz when the Thames floods the waters rise that high.  A plaque on the church wall reads : March 12th 1774 the water came rising up to this mark. The mark was a good 8foot from the road level.  The house on the corner had a flood board across the front door.
A couple of steps further (not far at all) is the River Thames, she of might and wonder.  A colourful boat named ‘Rastamedeus’ was moored in the berth, stranded by the tide now out.


I walked out as far as I could to take some photos of the river on both sides from a different angle (just because I could).  Retracing our steps we climbed a short flight of steps onto the start of Champion’s Wharf where we saw a couple of very interesting sculptures, one of which looked like a bed of square mushrooms. Very bizarre.

psychedelic mushrooms -sculpture on Champions Wharf

Strolling along the Thames path we ventured into York Gardens to behold the magnificent, marvellous, wonderful fountain adorned with a group of Italian marble statues representing the “Oceanides”.  What an enchanting sight. 

The Oceanides - fabulous statues in the York House Gardens

 A cluster of naked nymphs, either sitting on rocks or attemptimg to climb them, all gazing up at the beautiful venus that rides standing up and naked on the backs of two rearing, winged sea-horses.  There is quite a story behind these beautiful creatures and they were very nearly destroyed at one stage of their lives; thankfully for us….they were not!  There is some uncertainty as to who was the sculptor.
The gardens are beautiful; filled with roses and a fountain or two, and what were lovely green lawns a week ago, now browned in the searing heat of the last few days.
A flight of marble, balastraded steps take you to the top of a bridge that crosses the road below and into the gardens of York House.  A sight to behold.

York House

Imposing and enormous it sits majestically overlooking the lawns below.  York House was named after the Yorke family who owned the land from 1381 – 1539. The present house was built in 1637 and it’s first owner Andrew Pitcarne, later  followed by The Earl of Manchester, Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, Sir Alexander Johnson, Anne Seymour Damer, Archbishop Cleaver, the Comte de Paris, the Duc de’Orleans and lastly Sir Ratan Tata.  It became a Town Hall when Twickenham became a Borough in 1926.  The Orleans princes left their mark with the fleur-de-lys on the stonework and rainpipes.
Continuing our walk was strolled along the Thames path, the river, calm and mighty, moving inexorably to the sea, just beyond the balstrades.

The River Thames

Lining the path are a number of wooden benches, some of which bore memorial plaques to people now residing in a place we cannot see:  Simeon Randall, Pauline Anne Hope and a wee lass of just nine years old. I love that people put up these benches in memory of loved ones, and it is my desire to have one too.  Problem is that I have so many favourite places I would not know where to be!  Maybe in all of them. 🙂  I need to set up a ‘bench’ fund.

If I don't see you no more in this world......

Continuing our stroll we passed beneath the wides and shady branches of a beautiful beech tree: York House cut-leaf beech, one of London’s great trees.  Across the way we could see the boat-yards of Eel Pie Island, still to be explored. Turning back at this point we once again passed the fountain for a 2nd look, as beautiful then as before.  A heron sat still as one of the statues, peering intently at the pond waters, looking for tea I am guessing; sensible bird 🙂

heron fishing for tea 🙂

Thence we made our way to the Sweetie Pies shop for tea and cupcakes; of course.
The shop is a delight, the proprietor a young lass as sweet as her fare.  We dithered over which to choose and for me the Black Forest cake with cherries on top, a creation with tightly budded roses and a wee hedgehog won the day. 

could you eat a face like that?

 My daughter chose one with ice-cream cones and another with a sprinkling of coloured stars. 

Sweetie Pies cupcakes

 That and a couple of pots of tea served on fine china with china tea-cups made us feel very posh.  The interior of the shop is tiny and cosy; the ‘Powder Room’ boasting a loo so small I asked they were expecting Snow-White and the 7 Dwarfs!?
Replete, our taste-buds satified we meandered on down towards the river-front once again and so on towards Eel Pie Island, passing the Barmy Arms pub, with a great view from the patio. 

The Barmy Arms Pub

 On the way I noticed a story-board with snippets of island history.  Once upon a time there was a great hotel that hosted the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Who, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart and David Bowie amongst others.

The Rolling Stones at Eel Pie Island

The South of England’s answer to Merseybeat.  The hotel met it’s demise in 1971 after a fire hastened it’s demise; now a housing estate – Aquarius.
Stepping by an armada of ducks and swans that thought I was there to feed them we marched onto Eel Pie Island via the narrow pedestrian walkway.  How thrilling to visit an island in the middle of the Thames!

crossing The Thames to Eel Pie Island 🙂

Eel Pie Island, also know as ‘Twickeham Ait’, it appears on Moses Glover’s map of 1635. Cropping of withies to make baskets for the trapping of eels continued until the 19th century.  By 1737 there was an inn called ‘The Ship’ later ‘The White Cross’.  In 1830, a new hostelry was built was built and the island became a resort for summer visitors. 
And what visit it turned out to be.  The island may be in the 21st century, but life on the island has remained entrenched in the 1960’s. 

The Loveshack - just gorgeous

The houses are tiny, cute and quaint (those that we could see), and at the far end via the boat-yard is an artist’s enclave that is seriously straight out of  the Woodstock era.

the artist's enclave

Ramshackle would best describe the air of fading history.  The enclave is a higgedly-piggedly mix of wooden and tins shacks, mostly in a state of external disrepair and look like they’re on the point of falling down.  The cyclists club boast a marvellous mix of old metal painted sign-boards recalling products of a bygone era.

relics of a byegone age - HMV metal sign

 ‘Punch’ ; ‘Lion’ ; HMV and others.  Scattered about as if tossed aside by a giant hand grown tired of it’s toys, now rusting and overgrown with weeds and wild plants, lie a variety of old machinery the likes of which you seldom see these days. Relics!

a giant's toys discarded and forgotten

Further along and illegally gained via a gated entrance (I don’t care for barriers) we entered what appeared to be a cluster of offices, a modern structure in a vintage setting.  If you were wonering what happened to Tweety Bird, well, he is held captive in the jaws of the monster, a now abandonded building crane.  Poor birdy. 

if you ever wondered what happened to Tweety Bird......

 Wonder if the same will happen to Twitter?!
We strolled about the enclave, amazed that people could actually reside amongst this conglomeration of chaos; a delight of everything and nothing….one such ramshackle structure asks ‘anyone for Pimms’. 

anyone for Pimm's?

I could probably pitch a tent in the wee forest we chanced upon at the far end of all this and live happily (albeit uncomfortably) and no-one would even notice.  I noticed a hanging cage that houed a skeleton and wondered if that was the remains of Hansel or maybe Gretel :). 

don't overstay your welcome......

The place is littered with junk and bits and bobs, a veritable hoard of what I guess an artist would call ‘useful’ stuff.  Flowers abound and a nasturtium in full bright orange glory dominates the scene lending some colour to what is despite all the ‘stuff’ quite a dull bleached area. 

a bright orange splash of colour

Making our way back off the island we headed off to The White Swan for lunch. Along the way we passed under the bridge that leads to York House and walked passed ‘Dial House’, home to a magnificent sundial mounted above the front door; gorgeous.  Dial House was owned by various members of the ‘Twining’ family till the death of Elizabeth Twining on Christmas day 1889. (

on Riverside at Twickenham takes its name from the painted sundial in the centre of the front of the house.

This type of sundial is known as a vertical dial and the enthusiast would describe it as a vertical, declining dial because it does not face due south. Such dials are said to be declining so many degrees east or west of south, so that the gnomon, the rod that casts the shadow of the sun, is angled to one side or the other of the vertical centre line. For the same reason, the hour markers are not quite symmetrical, starting in this case, after 6 o’clock in the morning and ending at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The perfect south-facing dial would start at exactly 6am and end at 6pm.)


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