There are places I go to for great food or great coffee, and there places I go to because the setting is so fantastic. I’ve always loved sitting on the covered terrace of Hollyhock Cafe in Richmond’s Terrace Gardens with its view over the Thames. Like so many things, a once frequent habit of heading there at a weekend with a walk along the Thames, a trip across the river on Hammerton’s Ferry, and then a climb up the Terrace Gardens to the cafe, became something I stopped doing – for no good reason – and it’s taken the suggestion of a friend to get me back there. When I was fixing a time to meet my friend Judith for tea or coffee she suggested meeting at the Terrace Cafe, so that’s where I headed this afternoon.
Instead of the walk, I took a bus into Richmond – mainly because I need to buy a couple of things. Then I walked up Richmond Hill, where at the top, the Terrace Gardens spread before you, leading down to the Thames.
It’s been a slightly dull day weatherise as you can see from my photos, but the famous view from the top of Richmond Hill – painted by artists like JMW Turner, Sir Joshua Reynolds and others – never fails to impress. You can understand why famous people like Mick Jagger, when he was married to Jerry Hall, chose to buy a house at the top to get that view.
A notice told me the Terrace Gardens were originally a brickworks and during the 18th century, various noblemen built fine houses with gardens that eventually joined up into what is now the Terrace Gardens. Despite the lack of sun, it was quite warm and lots of people were sitting on the grass with picnics.
I thought it likely that the cafe would be busy and thus hard to get a table outside on the covered balcony.
However, I was lucky and just as I arrived, a couple got up and I got a prime table at the front.
The cafe is a place for coffee, tea or a snack lunch. I chose a slice of carrot cake and cappuccino.
The cappuccino comes in just one – quite large – size. It’s all nice enough, though nothing to rave about, but I like it there for the view and the atmosphere. I always feel there’s something slightly holiday-ish about sitting there – and Judith and I happily sat there talking for 2 hours! The cafe’s sister, Tide Tables, is further along the river right by Richmond bridge and that also has a great view.
When it was time to go, Judith headed uphill towards her home. I decided to go downhill back to the river and walk along to Hammerton’s Ferry, rather than going back into Richmond.
The gardens are planted out with bright, colourful flowerbeds for the summer. Down at the river, I joined the Thames Path, walking past Petersham Meadows, which I’d crossed with Lyndsey and Freddie only a few days ago.
The cows were wandering around the Meadows rather than sheltering together under trees as they had been on Tuesday. Then it was a trip across to the Twickenham side on the ferry.
I had a lovely afternoon. It was great to see my friend and sitting on the terrace at Hollyhock Cafe is just one of the best places to pass a couple of hours with a coffee for the atmosphere and view. Then I enjoyed the walk home and that always special little trip across the river in the ferry boat.