Who did I take for cake? Dolf, Project Coordinator of a solar power events company and my boyfriend (above right)
What did we talk about? Ducks, porridge, shoes, snoring, Bristol
The damage? £4.20
I like to think I do more than I do. To my mind, I’m the sort who regularly goes for wholesome walks, knocks up mango chutneys, knows her times tables and brushes her hair. In truth I rarely do any of these things and more often than not my weekends pass by in a haze. But last Sunday was different. Call it 2010 madness or guilt that my New Years celebrating had spanned five days (excessive? Moi?), but I woke up, brushed my barnet and promptly took myself off to Richmond Park for a ramble. Ok, so I didn’t bash out any chutneys, discover what lies beyond 2 x 2 or consider suitable footwear but…BABY STEPS PEOPLE.
It would be nice to say that I was won over instantly by the vast landscape afore me, its pastoral poetry so pure that it spoke to my very bones, but that would be a lie. I don’t mean the landscape was unworthy of a drum roll (or even of an eternal drum roll – it really is enchanting) but in truth, the first thing that struck me was the park map and its deliciously eccentric place names.
Hopping evermore excitedly from foot to foot, my finger fell upon Leg-Of-Mutton Pond, Killcat Corner and Spankers Hill Wood. It was as if I had stepped into an Enid Blyton wonderland and Dick and Fanny would be appearing any mo with lashings of ginger beer and more scotch eggs than you could shake a stick at. I would probably still be stood there now, gabbling, had Dolf not led me gently away to see the REAL nature, the stuff which exists beyond the signboard, and what we had got out of bed for…
Turns out the best thing about walking, aside from the views, exercise and sense of overall wellbeing, is that it gives you an appetite. And if one happs to be walking in Richmond Park, it is Georgian mansion, Pembroke Lodge where one goes to sate one’s bellybox (dahling).
While the Lodge may be very pretty to look at and have very pretty views to look out at, when it comes to the crunch or more precisely, the cake, one cannot afford to be whimsical, and my baked pecan and caramel cheesecake, with limp crust and complete lack of bite to its base, tasted, well it tasted a bit (hold the drum roll here)…shop bought. A good nosey at the other cakes (including lemon, and baileys and ameretto gateau) did nothing to convince me the same would not be true of these also.
I’d love it if Pembroke Lodge started serving homemade cakes, ripped out the dodgy carpets, replaced the plastic tables and offered more choice of tea, giving itself the chance to become a celebrated foodie destination, instead of just a park pit-stop inside a charming building. But as the place was absolutely heaving – thanks to its location, location, location, I’ll be surprised if this ever occurs.
Making our way happily out of the Royal Park, I looked up to see the sun was also going out on a high, leaving a dreamy tangle of sherbert oranges, dusky pinks and mellow violets, her dying rays dancing across the dark Thames. I hadn’t seen a sunset like it in a long time. Too long.
Who knows? Perhaps 2010 will be the year for wholesome walks, mango chutneys, times tables and best of all, sunsets. Although you can keep your hair brushing, I remain unconvinced about that.