Thursday, 13 August 2015

Sniffing herbs, origami & keeping off the grass

This holiday, I've become the mistress (I would say master but it feels rather too masculine, but now I'm wondering if mistress sounds too provocative?) of late starts (which does not bode well for my return to work) and thus have begun to make a habit of leaving the house after 12. Apart from feeling like I'm wasting some of the day, the plus side is that I'm saving money on lunches as I'm eating at home and I also know what to wear for the 'day' as I know I won't be out long enough to really notice any changes in temperature.

On Tuesday afternoon, we headed to the Geffrye Museum to wander round the gardens there. En route, I delivered the charity bag that has been sitting in my bedroom for a good few months to Traid on Kingsland Road and we then walked on from Dalston.

Having been uncertain of its fate last time I visited, I thought we should check out the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden to see whether it was even still there. Fortunately it was and busier than I've ever seen it! It's got such a real back garden feel; a really lovely community space to wander through or to sit in for a while and there are always toddlers there thoroughly enjoying the mud.

On we wandered to the Geffrye Museum. Turns out the entrance to the gardens is a little allusive (although then once we knew how to get there the massive, obvious sign was pretty embarrassing) and I was convinced from past experience that we needed to go through the museum to reach them.
Part way through the museum we were met with the café and well, it was around 2pm, so obviously we stopped for tea. The café overlooked the garden, complete with incredibly active, hypnotic bees swarming around beehives and thank goodness it did because the pretty view more than made up for the sluggish service and the over-priced 'fesh' mint tea.

By the time we were ready for wandering around the gardens, summer rain was falling in big, fat drops. It was actually pleasantly refreshing as we sniffed herbs (only the non-harmful ones, of course) and roses and admired an auricular theatre, tiny bright purple flowers and a small, sweet greenhouse. The boards in each garden explain what era the style was fashionable too which is pretty interesting when you consider how gardens are often an amalgamation of these today.

After the exploration of traditional gardens, Wednesday afternoon I travelled to Russell Square to find a Japanese Roof Garden. Not entirely sure of its exact location, from the pavement below, I was looking above me for signs of garden life. When I spotted unusual looking trees on top of UCL and a set of external steps leading in their direction, I figured I might as well climb them to see if this was the place.

I'm not entirely sure if I was even supposed to be up there, certainly no one else was casually milling around either the steps or the various rooftops I came to. The view was something special though and there were benches so I'm sure at one point it must have been in use?

I was definitely not in the right place, though. So I sat on one of the lonely benches and looked again for a more specific address. The roof garden was actually above the SOAS building and, more specifically, the Brunei Gallery, so I moved on.

I couldn't see any stairs that would obviously lead up, so I braved the lift (I hate them) which only had -1, 0 or 1 to offer. I wasn't sure a 'rooftop' could only be on the first floor but it was a start so that's where I went.

That's where it was and it seemed I was the only one who knew as I was alone. A little enclosed space with stepping stones across gravel, littered with pots of varying shapes and sizes and something colourful hanging at the end. When I neared the colourful hanging feature I discovered a mass of origami cranes. Further discovery told me there were as many as 3000 of them, made by people from all over the world in memory of the 75th year of World War II, specifically in memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Sun shining by this point and a gentle breeze swaying the hanging cranes, I decided to make myself comfy and read some of my book. If not for the building work going on below, I can imagine it's a most calming, relaxing space.

While I sat reading, a Japanese gentleman came in too and we exchanged salutations. I thought nothing of it until I noticed he was moving pots around and it was then I realised he must have something to do with the garden.

Next thing I knew, he was asking me if I wanted to make a crane. Why not? I thought. I've never been very good at origami but always wished I was and this man seemed like he'd know the way.
I sat with him at a small, old fashioned school table complete with inkwell. He delved into his bag and retrieved a statement explaining the garden, the one I had read on the door by the hanging cranes. He introduced himself as Yozo and asked my name. Yozo sounded familiar, I thought. It was then I realised he was the artist, Yozo Hirayama.

I'm not sure if it's insulting to assume him elderly but as we sat and he talked me through endless folds, modelling with his own piece of paper, I did feel almost like I was sat with my Grandpa. Grandpas (or at least Grandpa figures) are the ones who teach you great skills you'll hopefully remember for life. While making a crane may not be deemed 'useful', it is something I've always wanted to do.

No sooner had my paper somehow transformed into a crane, Yozo unfolded it so it was just a square again. 'Good. Now you.' he said plainly. So I had another go at following my lines to create the same bird. Miraculously, I managed it. 'Have you ever made a piano?' he then asked. I think my face said it all. I was shocked enough to have managed a crane!

A piano actually turned out to be a lot easier than one might expect and we then proceeded to make a boat come party snack bowl because 'you can't have a party without plates'. A surreal and completely unexpected way to spend an afternoon, I came away wondering what on earth had just happened. It was pretty special though and I hope I'll remember how to make at least one thing out of origami. Yozo hoped that I would be able to pass on my newly found skill to my children (school, not birth) as I told him we'd just about managed to make boats this year. We shall see!

My final port of call of the day was New Square. On the map it's a green space and it was, to a point, but it wasn't quite what I was expecting. Again I wasn't entirely sure whether I was supposed to be there as there were signs outside every entrance to the square stating that unless consent had been given, pedestrians should not enter. Somehow I got away with it anyway, to the point where someone approached me for directions to a particular location within the square as they assumed I worked there. Blending in as always. 

Home (I think, correct me if I'm wrong) to London's big name solicitors and barristers, the buildings are beautiful and very Cambridge-esque in their historic nature. Lincoln's Inn Fields is somewhere I've often heard mentioned in a 'you should go' kind of way, so when I realised it was right by the square, I had to check it out. However, I was met by a sign informing me 'this lawn is closed' so turns out I'll have to go back another day to enjoy my lunch there in a respectful manner. It's all very odd and I'm not at all sure how one closes a lawn but I certainly wasn't going to risk walking across it.

From Lincoln's Inn, I found myself at Gray's Inn where the gardens were this time closed off by an enormous iron gate. Such a friendly, welcome place. It is beautiful though!

Today, lightning is flashing and thunder is rumbling so while I did have plans to go out, I'm currently more than happy to be inside in the company of cats and tea. Looking forward to dinner at the Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings though! Expect photos of what is promised to be a beautiful interior!

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