A year ago (plus or minus a couple of days) I invited you to do the hanami with me in South East London (the Japanese ritual of viewing the cherry blossom, and traditionally eating and partying under the trees). I do realise it’s possible that you missed this, so feel free to re-read, and have a look at last year’s photos here.
Of course nobody joined me to picnic under the trees on Drakefell Road. I don’t blame you either, as I recall the weather conditions – March 2013 saw the worst snow in Britain in 30 years, and at times it was hard to tell the white blossom from the snow, or against the pallid grey skies. You might also be thinking that it is not quite so obviously picturesque here in South London as it is in the ancient parks of Tokyo or Osaka – even a stubborn Londonophile like me can see why you might think that.
The same desire to perform the hanami grabbed me again two weeks ago when the cherry trees blossomed in my local streets in the UK. The blooming literally happened one day, and I know because I was watching out for it. In Japan the meteorological agency announced the beginning of the cherry blossom season 15 days earlier than last year. I don’t think you get any such announcements here but the hattydaze gut feeling says that it was probably about the same here too – we have had hardly any frost this winter, and most spring flowers have also turned up early.
This cherry blossom season has also coincided with my resolution to take better pictures. I have been going everywhere with my SLR but, no longer switched to ‘auto’, I am experimenting with different settings and trying to see properly to focus (it’s been a long time). I hope you will enjoy some of the results, if not all. They were all taken close to home in South East London (you can enlarge and/or begin a slideshow by clicking on one).
A good old Google search will tell you that if you want to see some good cherry blossom in the UK, you should head to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. I don’t deny that you will see some beautiful sights in the wonderful gardens at Kew, but if you happen to find yourself a bit more south easterly, look up and look around you, and you might find that the trees look just as amazing here on the ordinary residential streets.
Especially if the sun is out.