What part of London is home and how long have you lived there?
I’m originally from Brighton but have been living in Hampton Hill, for the last 14 years. I moved to this quiet, leafy neighbourhood of Greater London (zone 6) to be near two College friends and within easy commuting distance to the Film Studios.
What are your favourite things about where you live?
It’s got to be Bushy Park. It was certainly an attraction when moving to the area. I feel blessed to have it on my doorstep. It’s one of London’s Royal Parks and was once the hunting grounds of Henry VIII. It feels more ‘wild’ than other parks, as there are Red and Fallow deer roaming and noisy parakeets! I marvel too at its many ancient trees, Oaks, Limes and the oldest recorded is a Sweet Chestnut planted c 1370. I’m often drawn to the peaceful enclosed ‘Woodland Gardens’, where dogs and bikes are not permitted. It’s full of very tame rabbits, Madarin ducks and Eygptian geese (see photo below). I love the funny knobbly woody stumps along the river that belong to the Cypress Knee tree.
Perhaps because I was born in Brighton, I’m drawn to water. There’s something magical and calming about walking along the Thames path. My favourite is the stretch from Teddington to Hampton Court, seeing the Palace come into view is pretty special.
I enjoy being on the water too. I was a member of ‘Kingston Royals Dragon Boating club’ for several years www.kingstonroyals.com. You certainly get a different perspective of London, away from the hustle and bustle. You are more likely to see beautiful kingfishers, like I did when I went paddleboarding for the first time last Summer with Active 360. Or you can just hire a boat from Taggs Boatyard, near Surbiton for a more leisurely cruise down the river.
What would you like people to know about your area?
I’m lucky that Richmond Upon Thames is not just a clean borough but it’s also a very green one. It’s hard to pick just one thing. There are the obvious places like Richmond Park and Hampton Court gardens but lesser known parks like Marble Hill are worth a visit too. During the Summer it’s possible to join a donation based yoga class on the lawn in front of Marble Hill House. I look forward to the Open days at Twickenham Apiary, to learn all about bees and honey production. There are also the Summer concerts on the grass at Hampton Pool, where you can enjoy a swim whilst the bands play. The view from the top of Richmond Hill never fails to impress, apparently the only view to be protected by an act of Parliament!
What’s your favourite part of London for nature?
I love the Cemeteries of London, my favourite is Highgate’s West Cemetery. It feels straight out of a fairy tale, with its gothic catacombs and ivy covered mausoleums. I find it so peaceful and romantic. The cemetery is the resting place of many famous people, including George Michael, and Karl Marx. I’ve yet to visit Abney Park Cemetery, which is supposed to be just as beautiful.
I went to the ‘Midnight Apothecary - Botanical Cocktail Garden’ in Rotherhide last year. “A pocket of Wilderness in the urban landscape”. It was a beautiful Summer’s evening when we roasted marshmallows and sipped cocktails, surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers.
I am very fortunate to have a garden and I enjoy sitting out there. I have several plants and flowers which I feel is important for attracting insects. This year I thought that I would start to grow a ‘wild lawn’ in my front garden as generally as a way of not simply improving the look of the space but also to attract bees and other insects. While it seemed to be a fun and comfy space for the local foxes to sleep on, it unfortunately wasn't a real success. Nevertheless I learnt a lot as a result so am determined to have another go next year!
I also save water by having a water butt, using the water collected to water my garden, rather than from the tap. I’m also making a conscious effort to grow more ‘ bee friendly’ plants, such as thyme, Rosemary and Lavender.
Jo is an Assistant Art Director, working in the TV and film industry
Jo lives in Hampton Hill and close to many of the points of the Thames, South and Royal line on the #GreengrounMap
For TFL, it can be reached by train with good access to buses.
Find the full Greenground Map here