I chose this story because Gnome is  now a close neighbour of mine. He played a special part in  Pauline’s book,  All Along the River. Here is a little piece from the manuscript:

‘There was a touch of the surreal about the outdoor cafe we visited in Putney High Street  at the end of our  day’s walk.  We were drinking  cappuccinos in cups the size of soup tureens when I glanced at the seat beside me and  saw an inch high  gnome  standing on a mound of gold coins. I hope no- one turned up to claim him because I put him in my pocket and  took him back to Australia, where he lives under a tree fern in our garden. The gold coins did not make it that far.  They were full of chocolate, which we  ate  on the way home  while planning  the next section of our  journey… to Lambeth and  beyond..’



 Gnomey on his golden dais!

 Gnome was hatched from a chocolate egg but isn’t sure if he is Italian or German and  doesn’t know how he ended up living  by the Thames.  He was  selling sausages, so I guess  that’s where the coins came from…DES.



Thank you Desmond. Putney signalled the end of the old  towpath we had been following for so long.  Horses once plodded along the path towing barges of produce  to the city of London.  And this spot  is also the starting point for the famous Oxford-Cambridge boat race.

In 2012, for the first time in the race’s 158 year history, proceedings were disrupted by a  rogue swimmer. Claiming he was protesting against ‘elitism’  the Australian  (yes, I’m afraid so)  swam directly  into the path of the boats.  The race was  halted for half an hour. After it restarted Oxford veered  into the Cambridge crew and snapped an oar.  Cambridge  cruised to an easy victory but celebrations were muted as Oxford’s bowman had  pushed so hard   compensating for the loss of an oarsman that he collapsed and was rushed to hospital. It was a race to be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Putney is also where the Antarctic explorer Lawrence Oates was born and raised. Oates is remembered for what might  quite possibly be the most famous of all ‘last words’. He stumbled from  his tent in a blizzard  during the ill-fated  British Expedition of 1910-13 saying: ‘I am just going outside and may be sometime.’ It was a courageous act of self-sacrifice as he realised his terrible physical condition was putting the lives of his companions at risk. Oates did not return and his body was never found.

We took Gnome with us to Putney’s St Mary  the Virgin  Church, which was visited by the diarist Samuel Pepys  on April 28  1667 . Pepys had an eye for the ladies but was  unimpressed by the locals; ‘..and then back to Putney church, where I saw the girls of the schools, few of which pretty.’  He also had a little misadventure at St Marys; ‘Here was a good sermon and much company, but I sleepy, and a little out of order, for my hat falling down through a hole underneath the pulpit, which, however, after sermon, by a stick and the help  of the clerke, I got up again…’ 

 Our discovery of Gnome at Putney  inspired Des to pen this  excruciating  little rhyme;





Gnome has now retired from sausage selling. He shares his Blue Mountains home with  a one-legged frog and appears to be very happy. He is a delightful memento  of our  long journey  from the source of the Thames to the river’s estuary. One day I must take him to visit Sydney’s Putney, so named because of its location by the Parramatta River, once dubbed the Thames of the Antipodes!

POSTSCRIPT  – Some  not so  famous and slightly churlish  last words from  Des:‘Gnome does not have a job and yet  he  drives  a  red convertible.  I am an Editor, but  I only  have an old bike’.

  1. Des, You are such a talented bear
    An editor bear is very rare
    I’m glad you found that little gnome
    And given him a happy home
    Don’t begrudge him a flashy car
    Your talent outweighs his by far.

  2. OooH, Yvonne!

    Fancy me having my very own poem…
    Now I won’t have to be jealous of Gnome!!

    xxxxxxxxxxxx Love from Editor Des

  3. Well done Des, It will be interesting to watch Gnomes adventures around the world! Give my love to Pauline and Doc, Oh and to you and Gnome too of course!!

  4. Thank you very much E.R. But it will be me going around the world next, as I will be helping to launch The Water Doctor’s Daughters and giving little talks. Gnome might have to satay home…te he, that’s another poem! My very kind regards to Jill’s bears. xxx Des,

  5. ‘Satay’? that sounds like a sauce Des, or a saucy dance. I keep teliing you to use a dictionary if you are not sure about a word dear…especially when you are an associate editor! Thanks for your good wishes E.R.xx

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