Tuesday, 4 August 2015
Thursday, 30 July 2015
I'm torn whether to actually write about yesterday's venture or not. A huge part of the beauty and charm of the place lay in our sharing it only with a dog walker, the occasional jogger, photographers and an elderly couple having a romantic picnic complete with wine (they had the right idea).
In a small space, this may still seem a fair few people but in a vast expanse of architectural and horticultural magnificence, it really meant we were quite alone to the point where I wondered whether, had it only been me, I might have felt a little spooked. On a gloomy day such as it was, greyer corners of the structure were definitely reminiscent of a scene or detail from an opulent murder mystery.
I fear that were too many people aware of this 'secret garden's' existence than the magic would be gone. So I may be selfish and refer to it as just that; The Secret Garden. Although in all fairness, said garden is so far off the beaten track that even if more people did know of it, I hardly feel that it's somewhere they would frequent. Fine, yesterday we finally found ourselves at the Hill Garden & Pergola in Hampstead.
There's not really much to say. It really is one of those places that has to be seen to be believed. It was just so beyond surreal, incredibly magical and really genuinely peaceful (no peacock cries or sirens this time), almost to the point of being eerie at points. Nevertheless, we both agreed, very romantic!
Another slightly chilly 'summer's' day, we were eventually torn away by want of tea and cake. Having completely lost my bearings, I was totally convinced that we were right by Kenwood House (we were not. It was at least two roads and the majority of a heath away) so we wandered in what I thought was the right direction for the teashop.
As fate would have it, the 'right direction' did lead us to a perfectly pleasant park with an even more pleasant 'Refreshment House' where we sat inside (still bothered by wasps in want of chocolate and sweet apple) to enjoy our tea and cake.
Legs well rested and the sun finally shining, we couldn't just head back home could we? So on we blindly plodded again in the direction (we hoped) of the Heath. I am ashamed to say that in the end, Google Maps came out, but thus we did eventually find the longest way round to Parliament Hill. Once there, I (in true holiday mode style) had a light nap, only interrupted for a short moment by my own fit of laughter at a yuppie pair of teens, one of whom genuinely responded 'yeah, totes' to her friend, at which point I completely lost it. I don't think they knew I was laughing at them...
The rest of the day continued much in the same sleepy vein. My excuse is that I was getting my energy up for the next four days of wedding mania. 'Til Sunday!
Tuesday, 28 July 2015
Today I've been a little deeper into Notting Hill than before. A favourite place of mine when the sun is shining, turns out it has plenty to offer even when it's not.
I think Holland Park is the furthest West I've ever been on the Central Line (I know, my life is terribly exciting)! I can initially thank Paddington Bear's Guide to London (a surprisingly fantastic book for adults, not just children) for making me aware of the park's existence. As soon as I saw it had peacocks, I knew I had to go! My interest was then furthered by another recent book purchase, Quiet London by Siobhan Wall (which alongside Instagram has also formed much of my To Do list) as it told me of the Kyoto Garden within the park; a peaceful haven with Koi. Totally sold!
Having only seen photographs in each book showing small parts of the park, I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting but needless to say, it was far beyond my expectation!
Initially met by glorious exotic plants in the 'Sun Trap Garden', I wandered up steps and into woodland before stumbling upon a rather more formal English garden full to the brim with Marigolds and Sunflowers. It was here I encountered my first peacock as I sat on a bench reading my book (huge deal; the New Year's resolution has not been going well). Unfortunately the poor peacock was being terrorised by a small child but until this point I had been absolutely revelling in the peace (all except for the sound of bird calls vs. passing sirens; you're always quickly reminded of where you are in London, even when you do find these surreal spots) of the garden.
|A Hippo Banquet - Mary Kingsley (one of Penguin's Little Black Books)|
When the gentle breeze started to get a bit cool, I wandered on to see what else there was to discover. In my true fashion, I 'discovered' the café where I popped in for a mint tea. This time it was to take away and it kept my fingers warm until I finally found the Kyoto Garden.
Despite being more aware of what to expect here, it was still a shock as I stepped up to its entrance. I think it was just on a much bigger scale than I thought it would be! I sat on another bench half way around the central pond to drink my tea, giggle with a mother and daughter enjoying a picnic with a hoard of pigeons and squirrels and even a peacock with a penchant for nuts, and to marvel at the hairdos that yuppie parents had subjected their yuppie children to.
When my tea was finished, I continued around the pond, stopping for a while at the bridge over the water, transfixed by the fish. Somehow I then found my way out of the park the way I had come in and continued my wanderings on to St Luke's Mews somewhere off Portobello Road.
The prettiest row of houses I have ever seen in London, I simply stood agog, trying my hardest not to feel deep envy towards the people (or even the cat who came to make friends) living inside.
As I walked back to Notting Hill Gate and the tube, Portobello Road looked almost unrecognisable without the rows of antique stalls. Of course, I stopped off at Gelato Mio where I treated myself to an illy coffee and some writing time.
Another beautiful day and so much inner peace and stillness. Now writing this up in the garden. This is what happiness feels like.