Out of all the great things about London, I'd have to say the parks are my favourite. There are so many different kinds - tiny ones sandwiched between office buildings (filled with office workers clutching Pret sandwiches and huddling together against the cold), huge open spaces populated by joggers and dogwalkers, unkempt but charming ones like Gunnersbury Park, suburban playgrounds, etc etc.
London (and probably England) is especially good at my favourite kind of park - one with lots of different parts, hidden nooks and coves to discover, cool green pathways, and maybe a few sculptures. A good rose garden also doesn't go astray. Big open commons have their place, but it's not quite as interesting as finding a new lake or grove or roman-style refuge everytime you turn a corner.
While The Boyfriend was celebrating nothing in particular with one of his more debaucherous mates one Saturday not long ago, I took myself on an excursion to Regent's Park (and London Zoo, see next post). I'm quite annoyed with myself for not going sooner, because now we have less than five months left in this town, and I've only just found my favourite London park.
Even more magical was the trip back through the park at dusk on the way to the tube from the Zoo. This section of the park (part of Queen Mary's Gardens) has a vibe of maintained wilderness, in contrast the part I was in earler in the day. Instead of meticulously groomed lawns and avenues of carefully colour-coordinated blooms, there are paths meandering through small forests, mysterious hideouts, a waterfall and a series of lakes and ponds. Something new each time you turn a corner. There was also a Japanese-style garden hiding behind some pine trees, and a huge fragrant rose garden. The rose garden was hosting an Indian (I think) post-wedding reception so it was filled with excited children chasing each other around the place in white taffeta, women in beautiful saris, and besuited men conversing seriously while surveying the proceedings.
And the place is so immense I didn't even get to things like the open air theatre or the boating lake before I was chased back to the tube by the darkness.
I don't mean for this blog to sound like a Pollyanna tourist guide of London all the time. But Regent's Park was truly lovely, particularly because I'd forgotten what it was like (since visiting quickly once about eight years ago) and therefore was pleasantly surprised while discovering it again. Perhaps I need to start writing some cranky, sarcastic rants to balance things out. If I sit here and relive my experiences on the tube this week, or battling the crowds in Oxford Street last Saturday, or of the appalling service I got at Ping Pong in Soho recently, I'm sure I could come up with something.
The rest of my photos of the day, including of London Zoo, are up on Flickr here.