Brenda travels down from Newcastle every month to look after her granddaughter Sadie for a couple of days and always includes a library visit in their days together.
“I come here because there’s so much that Sadie can do here. There’s every book that you can think of, it’s such a good selection.
Every time she walks in, she goes straight up to the rug and goes round it saying every animal name that she knows. (A colourful oval rug stretches across most of the floor of the children’s library illustrating different animals.) Or she might use some of those little seats to make a tower and then knock them down again.”
Brenda and Sadie did not realise however that there was also a garden that they could explore. I only knew because someone had tweeted me about it.
It was a small paradise.
I spoke to two women taking a break from their office on one of the benches, under a tree.
One of them told me: “I use this library and that was how I knew about the garden.”
It did feel like it was a secret space, treasured by those who knew of its existence.
The other woman explained she was big library user.
“I used to go all the time when my daughter is small – I went to classes and that kind of thing – and now that she is eight, she uses it for her work. I’ve banned Google for when she researches projects because I never knew what she might find. But in the library, her mind can go in every direction. She uses the encyclopaedias and discovers things that she never would if she just went online.”
Her friend added: “It’s a safe space too. She can wander around it. And so children can be independent.”
As I left Teddington Library, Sadie had begun to run races with her grandma across the expanse of lawn.
Her arms were spread out to her sides, as though she had no fear of falling.