Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Holland Park

I can't help but feel that those who think of Instagram as some sort of evil have either used it or seen it used in the wrong way. While some people may indeed be there for the competition of likes and followers, others like myself use it as a wonderful platform for sharing and discovering. Much of my summer To Do list has come from places I've seen in other people's Instagram pictures because, believe it or not, there are lots of people out there who seek beauty too!

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.