Alice and I walked up into town at lunch time, trying to kill an hour. There had been showers so everything in the parks was glistening with moisture which is the best time to take flower photographs. Even though Alice was with me I did manage to sneak the odd photo in. Under the shrubs more colchicums are out, mauve petals with veins like pinstripes have pushed through the dark earth and stand on straight green stems, looking slightly odd because of the lack of leaves. Speckled with the recent raindrops they were a marvellous sight.
A few brave lilies are still putting on a show in one corner. There’s nothing quite as exotic as a nice lily I think, especially on a rather dull dismal day, and there has been an abundance of them this year. Sadly the exciting looking pink ones are long gone but the last of the white ones are nice and bright. Not far away one solitary trimesia was still out, surrounded by the seed pods of its siblings. The most prolific flower in the park is still the hydrangea, mostly the lace caps as the mop heads are beginning to fade now.
There was one flower not showing any signs of doing anything at all, in fact it was looking as if it will never do anything ever again. The little rhododendron that made me smile all through last winter by blooming when it really shouldn’t, looks much like my job, more or less dead. What a terrible shame.
It’s funny how quickly I’ve got used to the city without all the rhinos? Now they’re all back at Marwell being prepared for the big auction at the end of the month. I wish I had enough money to bid on one but I guess I just have to live with the memories. There were rhinos in the parks, rhinos in the shops. Some I saw often, some just once, like the one in the window of Sta Travel, It’s Everyone’s Responsibility, when I popped in one afternoon or the one in the window of Bath Travel, Rickie the Rhino, that I meant to go back to get a batter photo of but didn’t. Then there were the two upstairs in the Marlands that I found by chance when I was shopping, The Colourful Rhino and Robbie the Rhino.
The very last memory I have is from the final Saturday they were in town. Mini Commando and I had been on a mission to find the last of the babies, we’d been to the Art Gallery and SeaCity Museum and we were felling quite smug that we had seen each and every one.
When we left the museum Mini Commando said he wanted to look at something in a shop in the Marlands which was on the way home anyway. We went in the back entrance which brought us face to face with the Go Rhino’s HQ.
“Oh wow! Look at all the baby rhinos,” Mini Commando said. I hadn’t even realised he hadn’t seen them before. So we went inside to have a look around. The little shop was full to bursting with baby rhinos, painted by all the schools and there were children sitting at a big table drawing pictures of them or designing their own rhinos. What I’d forgotten was that the rhinos that had been removed the the trail were also there.
It was lovely to see them again, like long lost friends. There was Seamore, I have a great fondness for him because he was the first rhino I saw, I actually thought he was a horse in a high vis jacket at first. Now he had a little baby friend called Unity. Beside him was I Am Not A Target, all repaired and shiny.
Stylo Rhino was there too, moved from the airport because not enough people had the chance to see him. Mini Commando had never seen him before and he loved him. He had two little baby friends with him, Flower Power and Retro Rhinos Back to the Sixties. Next to him was Cosmos, the lovely star speckled rhino that used to stand next to the sculpture, Enclosure. With him were three baby rhinos Rudy, Ruby and Mr Ronnie Star. He looked to be having some repair work done to his face, poor thing. Beatrix was there too, with some damage on her back and, beside her Rohan, along with them was baby Hashtag Ampersand, the Daily Echo baby rhino. Poor Rohan had a badly broken ear, I rubbed his head, it was such a sorry sight.
There were lots of other baby rhinos in the window but, so crowded together I couldn’t find all their names at first. There was hands on, covered with the hands prints I’d the Sherborne House School children, Sid, from Hamble School, covered with sea creatures, Orchard Infant Schools, Russet, covered with apples the children painted and Face Value with the faces of the children from Four Marks Primary School.
We spent quite a while looking around Go Rhinos HQ and then we went off to look at the rhinos all grouped around the scenic lift. Here we found African Oasis, with his elephants and tigers, Rex the Ringed Rhino, all covered in coloured circles, Crime Scene Rhino who was quite scary but clever, Ronnie with a cityscape and lightning, Rescutia with a shilouette of Stone Henge and Askari, all diamonds of copper and brass. Surely this was it, the very last of the baby rhinos?
So we turned to take one last look at all the babies and started towards the exit. All those rhinos and rhinos babies, we’d seen every single one. Just as we were passing one of the last shops, thinking about lunch and a nice cup of coffee I spotted one more baby in a shop window. This was Reggie the Veggie Learning Rhino, our very last rhino ever.