Lola Hearts Wimbledon

Lola Hearts Wimbledon

Lola Hearts Wimbledon

Wimbledon Common - the setting of Hop Lola Hop

Every story has a home and so does Lola’s.

As I write this, I am sat more than 4,000 miles apart from the place that inspired ‘Hop Lola Hop’ and where - if you look closely enough - Lola’s adventure is indeed taking place.

Picture books - especially for the young - rarely make reference to a specific setting, for good reason: Unless the adventure is taking place on the moon perhaps - chances are your little reader will have not heard about it.

But then, Lola’s story would likely never have been written if it wasn’t for the many happy memories our family collected during our time in the beautiful South-West London suburb of Wimbledon, which I was lucky to call ‘home’ for longer than most places I lived in. 

If you’ve been passing through this London borough, walked along the high street, perhaps enjoyed lunch at the Dog & Fox, popped in to Bayley & Sage stopped by the bookshop at 40 Wimbledon High Street before heading for a stroll around Rushmere Pond, I hope you will agree that this place is not just beautiful. It is indeed special.

It’s here where as a new mum, I would often push the stroller carrying my baby girl for hours, day dreaming, phantasizing and enjoying this part of motherhood.

It’s here, where I’d join my 2-year-old on a Womblehunt! Yes, I am talking those furry creatures living beneath the Common and who have, according to Elizabeth Beresford, for many decades been secretly keeping the place clean of the rubbish left behind by untidy humans.

It’s here, where our toy bunny went missing for the very first time and where, instead of buying a replacement, I told my daughter that Lola was not going to be a bunny forever lost in the gutter but instead having a wonderful adventure.

I wanted to be sure that Wimbledon does play a role in our book. 

If you look closely, you will spot lots of familiar places. Many of the cityscape and landscape scenes that Siski Kalla so beautifully painted, have been inspired by village high street life and Wimbledon Common. We even managed to sneak in a sandwich board that reminds of a children’s theatre a little further down the road.

Siski Kalla used Google Maps and a selection of photographs I had shared with her to produce this beautiful map scene of Wimbledon Village and the adjacent Common. Because of travel restrictions due to Covid, we heavily relied on these sources for reference. On this map you will spot some popular landmarks iconic to Wimbledon Village High Street Life, such as the Dog & Fox gastro pub, the old fire station, Bayley & Sage grocers, Light on the Common Cafe and Wimbledon Books.

Wimbledon Common and Rushmere Pond with a view on to the houses on Southside Common.

In many ways, Hop Lola Hop remains a story that could easily take place anywhere in the world, in any town or any park. 

But this book serves another purpose. As we all love to build lasting memories (myself included), Hop Lola Hop has become a safe keeper, helping me capture some very special moments of a place and a time I will forever be fond of and grateful for, and where to me Lola’s story will always belong.

Thank you for reading, Kathyx

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