During the summer, I made a couple of key decisions. Firstly I would carve out some time for inspiration. I am reading/following the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and she recommends taking an Artist’s date every week. It is non negotiable – I have negotiated not to have one, until now. Also whilst spending a lot more time around greenhouses, especially my parents’, I felt a shift. I wanted more seasonal food, more green. And it started with Petersham Nurseries. To be honest, I am not sure I needed an excuse to go. I have been desperate to go for so long. The fact that Andrew Montgomery has just published an incredible book about Petersham Nurseries, may have made me want to go even more – if it was possible.
From where we are in Hertfordshire, it was not as hard as I first thought to get to Richmond. In the past, we always drove into that area of London – mostly to go to Kew Gardens. And it does take a while. when I say we, I mean Marc. My driving confidence is not up for the London challenge. This time we took one train to West Hampstead and swap station to take the Overground directly to the middle of Richmond. I am pretty sure it took us only an hour to get there.
I followed the map designed by my friend Annabel a couple of years ago (yes it took me that long to print it and actually do it). She is a keen observer of London life and buildings, so it was nice to see it through her eyes, and venture down some of the little (pretty) lanes. It is worth going through them, it is so beautiful and inspiring.
It took us an hour to walk to Petersham Nurseries – after photographing everything, chatting to the cows in the middle of London – and being quite taken by them. I finally just realised how relaxing it is to be walking somewhere completely different. We had a booking for afternoon tea at 12 (do not judge), and made it on time.
What is an Artist date for me, might look totally different to someone else. The more green in my pictures, the happier I am. The cows were just a bonus. And also Julia advises a date should only last a couple of hours. Going away for most of the day was a treat, booked in advance. I cannot justify a day off every week. But certainly hope to be able to do it every month (whilst I am freelance. It might be impossible if I go back to an office job).
I had not had afternoon for a long time – maybe because of 18 months of Covid, and not being able to celebrate anything properly for a while. Even after everything reopened, it was impossible to book anywhere. Of course, this is not your typical afternoon tea. Everything is special, carefully thought and crafted, and topped with edible flowers from the nursery. Despite all the appearance of a fine dining experience, the tearoom remains totally relaxed. Many pushchairs around us, as well as happy Grandmas. The pricing is a bit higher than an afternoon tea would be in Hertfordshire – but probably not in London. We did not manage to finish ours and took our scones back home with us for the boys to enjoy.
There are so many reasons why this trip to Petersham Nurseries was worth taking time off for. I took time off, without the kids. And nothing sinister happened at work. A bit of a delay but nothing major (and mainly because I did not look at my inbox). It had not happened this whole of the summer, a very long summer. Delicious and inspiring food in the most beautiful setting (I realise you might need to be really into green and plants to see it from my point of view), a very long walk with a friend, is so relaxing. I do love walking, and changing my routes is really important. So where shall I go next? I cannot wait to see what I can discover.
You can view some of the places I have been to here.