With summer comes a more relaxed attitude to work. There's still plenty to do, but with the students all gone, the marking finished and next year's planning still in the earliest stages there is a chance to draw breath and enjoy living in this part of London.
The weather's not really been on our side this Spring and chances for long cycle rides around Richmond Park have been limited. Instead I've found myself drawn to the North bank of the Thames where after Kew Bridge the wonderful world of Strand on the Green opens up with it's riverside pubs and twice a day flood tides.
In fact the entire Middlesex bank is one giant crawl from Brentford right the way to The Dove in Hammersmith. All well served by the Fuller's Brewery at Chiswick Reach.
The Thames is coming into sharp focus over the next week or so with the huge Jubilee river pageant scheduled for next Saturday. At Chiswick today about fifty narrow boats from Liverpool, Birmingham and all points on the canal network, were practising manoeuvres and turns, ready for the big day.
I often wonder whether the students are aware of the river. It passes so close and harbours so many stories, supports so many interesting lives and really is still the artery that keeps London one of the most fascinating cities on earth. Few of the tourists go further west than Westminster Bridge and tend to take the train out to Hampton Court, which means that the histories of Fulham, Hammersmith, Chiswick, Brentford and Isleworth are for the most part untold.
There's a healthy tradition of artists moving out of the bustle of central London to take meditative refuse in these parts. William Morris had a house at Hammersmith. Hogarth escaped the degradation of Leicester Square by retreating to his cottage in Chiswick. Alexander Pope' Catholicism meant he wasn't allowed to live an closer to London than Twickenham. In more recent years John Osborne wrote most of Look Back in Anger on a barge moored next to Kew Bridge. For creative artists it's an inspiring place to live and work. I wonder if we draw on it enough.