Those of us arriving at Kew by car went through the usual pantomime of lurking in side streets until the free parking outside the main gate became available. Not such a problem to find a space this time as most children were back at school and the usual phalanx of nannies and mums armed with chariot-like strollers was pleasingly thinned out.
The idea of choosing October for our annual Kew outing was to swap our normal spring colours for autumn russets. Foiled again! The marvellous late summer had delayed nature’s turning of leaves and, whilst there were some yellows and reds to be found, there was still a lot of green in the trees. One outstanding riot of autumn orange flanked the Temple of Bellona. It was almost immediately visible just to the south of the Victoria Cafe where we had met for coffee. Not surprisingly, 3 versions of this impossible glory were painted by our artists. The rest wandered off to the Japanese Gateway, with its raked sand garden beautifully placed rocks, or to the lake which offers some wonderful reflections.
The weather was a little chilly and grey but we had little to complain about, the gardens showing off their usual stunning variety of subjects. As a fall-back, there was the always the option of heading into the shelter of the splendidly refurbished and re-opened Temperate House.
It was not really picnic weather and nobody wanted to waste time in one of the smart main restaurants. So the plan was to gather for lunch at the enticing Pavilion cafeteria near the Pagoda, close to where most of us were painting. Another surprise! This had just closed for redevelopment so, huddled in our coats, we sat outside at the temporary replacement (quite nicely done) and munched a sandwich or two. Luckily the afternoon warmed up a lot and we painted on to our usual conclusion, sharing the day’s work with each other over a cup of tea.