richmond park

I’m sat in the cool shade of a tree as I watch an aeroplane draw a chalky line across the blue sky. It’s the hottest day of the year so far, and right now I’d give anything to remove my coat. I feel bad saying that as it served me so well through the bitter winter, but that just seems like a distant memory now.

I sit alert, taking in my surroundings: the familiar green grass stretches out before me, there are trees as far as the eye can see, in the distance tall white structures skim the horizon, and in every direction I look there are people. Yes, they are out in abundance; walking, cycling, jogging, playing, reading, sunbathing… In fact it’s the busiest I’ve seen it here for a very long time. It’s nice to have something different to gaze at, and as long as I’m left alone, I’m happy to share the park.  Not that I’m ever actually alone: right now there are about 30 of us all huddled under this one tree. Safety in numbers, that’s what my mum reckons. And she’s right. We’re far less likely to get approached in a big group, so we all tend to stick together.  As a rule we choose the longer grass, where there are more nettles and thistles. This ensures we’re mostly left to our own devices.

Of course, there’s often a wannabe photographer lurking nearby, especially on a day like today. In fact there are a couple of people approaching right now, eager to get a perfect snap shot of nature at its finest.  I lazily get to my feet, and the others behind me follow suit. It’s what we always do when anyone gets near. Standing up shows them who’s boss, apparently, and more importantly means we’re ready to run away if needs be. Our warning has worked, the couple take a quick picture and then hurry away, and when I’m confident they’re at a safe distance, I settle back down. If I had a pound coin for every photo I’ve appeared in, I’d be a very rich old deer.

What I don’t like about this warm weather are the insects. We’re continuously swishing our tails and flicking our ears to deter the wretched flies from landing on us. Right now, we’re all twitching away like crazy – what a sight it must be – it’s all rather exhausting really.

Gradually the afternoon drifts by in a haze of watching, standing, sitting and twitching. Way across the park, the colourful machines that take the people away, look like a small row of ants crawling toward the exit gates. Soon dusk will fall and we’ll have the park to ourselves once again. Us, and the birds, squirrels, bugs and other full-time residents that is.

The sun seems slightly less harsh now, so I leave my shady patch and walk out into the open field to graze and enjoy the last of the day before heading into the trees to nestle down for the night.

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