Tuesday, 27 April 2010
Springwatch III: along the river
Planes were massing in the skies again towards the end of last week, but the vapour trails didn't manage to obscure the clear blue. Interesting, ambiguous observation on the quiet time from Tim Lott in The Independent; but for me, it's back to Fotherington-Thomas land and two lovely afternoons pedalling down the Thames. I needed them after a couple of what our Viennese friend Martha would call 'stressy' encounters. Equilibrium was restored and the bright blue is back again today.
I'd left it a bit late on Thursday to get to Kew and back in time to carry out my first theatre crit in something like twenty years: I was covering the UK premiere at the Almeida of Ruined, Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize winning play about the suffering and resourcefulness of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As the review is up on the Arts Desk, I don't need to say more here except praise once again the strong, ultimately touching performances from Jenny Jules and Lucian Msamati (pictured below by Tristram Kenton).
Not seen such a glitzy crowd since...well, the Prima Donna prima a couple of weeks back. This time it was Islington chic, and actors by the yard. I found myself sitting behind heavenly Juliet Stevenson, and so wanted to tap her on the shoulder and tell her what her recording of To the Lighthouse had meant to my dear Nell Martin when she lay dying, but thought it might be rather heavy weather, and anyway the opportunity passed and the quiet end of the play was not the time and place.
Anyway, having got as far as Chiswick that afternoon, I cut the Kew plan short and went to Chiswick House instead. I used to like frequenting the slightly run-down, damp cafe in the grounds, but found it had been replaced by a brand-new concrete building. The culinary contents looked a bit mass-produced at a first glance, but the suppliers turned out to be The Company of Cooks, the brilliant caterers who've transformed the Southbank. Then I took a stroll around the free-for-all park, which isn't exactly bursting with blossom but offers plenty of natural spectacles, not least coots' nests
by the beautifully restored bridge (James Wyatt, 1788)
and further down, below the Palladian villa.
On the way back, one of the Thames's regularly positioned, solitary herons was proudly perched at Chiswick reach
and the gunnera grows in one of the gardens right by the river, separated from their houses by Chiswick Mall.
Thanks to the prunus over the wall, our own back yard isn't looking bad at all.
Kew will have to wait for a further instalment.