Much was said about the storm, called #storm2013 on Twitter as though there could be no other this year, that gripped southern England overnight; including a lot of hyperbole and speculation. It was, in fact, pretty dramatic and disrupted many people’s journeys to work, bringing trees down onto power lines and across railways. Although there was a lot of overblown verbiage out there, there were four deaths, so it was a relief to emerge unscathed, although I have yet to see if there’s any damage at Spring Cottage.
By late morning the high winds had passed, clearing the skies and as Nora and I made our way over the rough grass of Richmond Park in London, the sun was shining brightly. A huge open space in south-west London, the royal park is one of King Henry VIII’s hunting grounds, untouched since the sixteenth century, more or less, save for the addition of a few lodges and car parks.
There seemed to be deer everywhere today (which there aren’t always), including a very impressive stag sporting some huge antlers. Perhaps they had come down closer to the roads than usual following the bad weather. Not wanting a repeat of last year’s Fenton dog chasing deer video, I was quite careful to pick a spot to walk where there seemed to be no wild animals, although the vibrant green parakeets that inhabit most of London’s parks these days chattered loudly all around us.
On our brief 15-minute walk, as required by Nora’s tender puppy joints, we came across a literal windfall of sweet chestnuts, shaken loose from the trees by the winds but quite ripe enough to be gathered and eaten. My first thought was to wonder why there were so many tennis balls under the trees.
I collected only a few, feeling sorry for Nora, who kept following me into the spiky mass that pricked her feet and made her run out again quickly onto the grass. There was a warning notice in the car park about not taking any mushrooms but nothing about chestnuts, so we nabbed a few, and there were plenty left behind for the other animals to feast on.
Postscript: Feeling guilty today (18 November) after another visit to Richmond Park. Posters have now gone up on some sweet chestnut trees asking people not to take the chestnuts as the deer need them. I won’t do it again!