I worked in Notting Hill for four years, just a 10 minute walk from West London’s Holland Park.
For one of those years, I lived in Earl’s Court so I would walk to and from work through Holland Park every single day, watching the changing seasons and the same Londoners taking their dogs or kids for a stroll.
London is full of fantastic parks, from Regents Park with its beautiful rose gardens, Hampstead Heath with its ponds and stunning view over London, Richmond Park with grazing deer and the green spaces of East London that line the canals.
Although it is one of the smaller green spaces, Holland Park quickly became one of my favourites.
I spent many lunch breaks there, sitting in the sun, enjoying a book or a magazine.
I’ve walked through on rainy days when the benches are empty and the flower petals are dripping. And I’ve walked through on snowy days with inappropriate shoes that threatened to send me flying back down the hill on the ice.
It has been the setting for many a picnic with friends, photo walks and long conversations.
Holland Park is fabulous for many reasons like their free-roaming peacocks and free outdoor gym. But two areas stand out for me.
One is the Dutch garden.
I love its manicured flower bed, its rainbow array of flowers with hovering bees searching for food.
I spent a few hours there on Saturday before meeting my study abroad roommate from 2004 in Portobello Market, nine years after we’d last seen each other.
It smelled like Summer.
The sky lit up the background for the vibrant flowers, a brilliant blue and barely a cloud, temperatures climbing slowly to 30C.
I love the rows of benches lining the Dutch Gardens.
It was with a mixture of fascination and melancholy I read the inscriptions, memories of people who have sat and found solace in this park, quotes about lost love and happiness and life long gone.
A few other people wandered through, but it was quiet here, separated from the rest of the park like a not so hidden secret garden.
A few kids appeared out of the blue, brothers probably, arguing in Spanish about who won their race to the statue. Then they quickly disappeared again.
I thought about how big and sprawling this city is, how I hadn’t visited the park in months, and how quickly time goes by when there is so much to see and do.
It is no longer a part of my daily routine and I forget how much I enjoy being there.
My other favourite part of Holland Park is also an international garden.
It’s the Kyoto Gardens just behind the Dutch Garden.
For some reason it always seems to be slightly more busy than the Dutch Gardens on sunny days.
I guess people enjoy the pond as much as I do.
And certainly the waterfall – a novelty in London!
It’s fun to peer over the edge and watch the fish swim lazily over a bed of coins – probably from all over the world – dropped in with wishes over the years.
An occasional duck floats by.
It’s a peaceful place overall. Even the streets outside the park are pretty!
I headed back toward Portobello Market then to catch up with Jevon on a bright and sunny day.
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