The South London Camel Path

The other day on my daily walk I met a camel. It’s not every day you come across a camel on a muddy track on the fringes of SW London. It was all rather unexpected. Admittedly it was behind a fence next to the track, but there it was, sat on the ground with its legs tucked underneath, chewing in that circular way that camels do. As if that wasn’t startling enough, another one suddenly appeared, ambling over towards the first one. One camel was surprising; two was mind-boggling on a soggy January day.


Ah yes, some will say that know me. You’re quite near Chessington World of Adventures, so they must have been in a paddock that’s part of the original zoo. Well no, they weren’t. I could, though, see the tops of the structures over at Chessington poking above the trees across the valley. Thinking about it, I suppose valley is a bit grandiose – more a slight dip! No, the camels live on a farm that keeps some rare breeds for visitors to admire and in some cases stroke. I’d forgotten it was there, but 20 years ago it was a destination of choice for children’s birthday parties.


You may not meet a camel on your walk, but the Council for British Archaeology may have the answer if you want to inject some interest into your daily tramp around the streets. Last year as part of the 2020 Festival of Archaeology – yes I missed that one too – they produced a bingo card with 25 building or landscape features for you to look for. It challenges you to find graffiti (not difficult) to bench marks, water troughs to stained glass, cobbled surfaces to horse mounting blocks. The latter prompted letters last week to the Guardian newspaper about where you could find one. There’s one in Greenwich evidently. If you want a go here is the link:


https://festival.archaeologyuk.org/events/local-explorer-bingo-challenge-1601911002


Happy spotting. Those of us from an earlier generation may also remember I spy books so the card brought back a few, probably rose-tinted, memories.


Oh yes. The connection to safeguarding? Keep your eyes open and you never know what you might see.

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