I'd really wanted to go to Denbies Hillside to looks for Butterflies and other flying beasties but the sun wouldn't shine and the cloud cover was not conducive for that activity.
OK - where to thought I. The ancient market town of Kingston-upon-Thames is about 5 miles from me and borders the River Thames. Having sat in the active market place drinking Costa coffee on many an occasions, I've regretted not having my camera with me to photograph some of the very old buildings.
So today, I started the first part of my journey by bus and alighted about a mile before I reached the town and walked along the River.
All the usual birds were about on the river - many Mute Swans (there can be anything up to about 70 in the winter months), coots, mallards, black-headed gulls, Canada Geese etc. etc. BUT what really excited me was a juvenile Great Crested Grebe that was about 12 feet from the bank and me! And the lens I had with me? a wide-angle lens which was not good enough for the shot I wanted - isn't it always the way?
The youngster was diving for food and coming up under a wooden gangway. I managed to get some shots and, as I walked along, it then joined its sibling and parents. Wonderful!!
From the river I walked through the very modern buildings into the ancient market place where I finally bought the milk I needed and caught the bus back home!
Not the day I planned but not that bad after all.
The outskirts of the neighbouring town of Surbiton, run along the River adjacent to a very busy main road. Looking down through the railings by comparison, the tranquillity seems idyllic. Here lie abandoned filter beds, sandwiched between the river and the road; the filter beds now having been left to naturalise. A number of birds have now made their home there.
This is the start of Queens Promenade - part of the original towpath leaving Surbiton and going toward Kingston upon Thames. Queens Promenade dates back to the 1800s and when first built, was opened by Queen Victoria.
Nearing my destination, the various boats make satisfactory resting places for many wildfowl along the river
And just beyond this point, was the Juvenile Great Crested Grebe
One of the many "pleasure" boats that offer trips up and down the Thames. From Kingston you can take trip right up to London - if you're not in a hurry that is!
Looking towards Kingston bridge
In 2001, a very large development was opened - this is Charter Quay!
This is a sculpture set amidst the cafes and restaurants around the Piazza area of Charter Quay
Standing with our backs to the Thames, where the Hogsmill joins the main river.
and beyond the modern bridge we see above is the very old Clattern Bridge - pictured below.
Clattern Bridge is a scheduled ancient monument and dates back to 1293. The bridge that crosses the tiny tributary of Hogsmill is one of the oldest recorded bridges in the south of England and is of particular historical and architectural interest. The medieval name ‘Claterynbrugge’ is thought to have been descriptive of the sound of Horses crossing the bridge on the way to the busy Kingston Marketplace. The stone arches on the downstream section of the bridge are the oldest part of the bridge which until Victorian times was only 8 feet wide.
Having mounted the steps beside the bridge we come out into the Market Place. Being a Wednesday afternoon, the market is shut. Open throughout the week, the original market was mostly food - wet fish, butchery, and mostly fruit, vegetables, flowers etc. However today, sadly, sees much more of the gadgets and "mobile phones unlocked here" variety of stalls.
As it's the summer, we seem to have a German Market - this is quite usual at this time of the year and again during the Christmas season. Unfortunately, the stalls (erected only for this purpose) spoil the view and atmosphere of the market - in my humble opinion.
As part of the "refurbishment" of the Market Place, when all the original (and rather dilapidated) stalls were replaced, the Council installed this "water feature". It consists of 9 jets of water that are "timed" to shoot water into the air in various formations.
On a hotter day, children can be observed running through trying to dodge the "jets"!
And our final view, looking through the Market Place towards the Church and Market Place building.
Kingston marketplace has been the centre of life in the borough for many centuries. One of the oldest chartered towns and one of the few royal boroughs; Kingston has enjoyed a thriving economy since the first settlers arrived on the banks of the Thames. Built in 1840, the beautiful Market House building sits at the centre of the market square a monument to the success of this ancient and prosperous area. The building now houses the local tourist information centre and is at the heart of the oldest part of the town.