Sunday, 2 June 2013


Living in a National Park means that I have not frequented urban parks very much in the last 25 years. When living in Glasgow I ran in Pollok Grounds or Queens Park most days and took the children there at weekends. I had forgotten how important parks are for city dwellers until spending time in London this year. I find the bustle and noise of urban living drains your energy. Parklife restores your perspective and makes you part of a wider community also in search of the elixir of urban life.

Brockwell Park
Where Have All the Good Times Gone  - Rye obviously
Heathrow queues over Kew
Avenues at Kew Gardens 
Inside the Palm House
The Lake from the Palm House
Tree Diversity
Water Lily Pond
Thames at Kew
Strutting his stuff
My visits to London over the years were usually limited to an overnight stay before a meeting or conference. I would manage an early morning run around Hyde Park to settle me down for the day ahead. More recently my visits have been longer and I have enjoyed the opportunity to visit many of the parks south of the Thames. Last week I managed four visits to Brockwell Park, two to Dulwich Park and also a visit to Peckham Rye during the 5 days I was there.

It was early summer, the weather was good on most days and I was mightily impressed by how well that the parks are maintained by the cash strapped councils with a huge variety of facilities, activities and events for thousands of local people. I managed to join in two Park Runs on the Saturday morning as I did a long circuit of Brockwell and Dulwich parks. But Parklife is a lot more than the joggers who go round and round and round. Its about all the people. so many people: the fitness boot camp squads, the dog walkers, the cyclists, the kite flyers, the babies in prams, the toddlers, the rich and poor, feeding the ducks, the birds, the fairgrounds, the circus, the peace gardens, the playgrounds and the lidos. Park life is just as important and far better at creating well-being than any shopping therapy. Parks elevate the mood and release endorphins, they embrace all ages and cultures and create a common community; shopping just costs time and money and breeds greed and envy.

Kew Gardens was the star attraction with its outstanding displays and walks through a global botany lesson. It made for a great day out with the next generation of the family, she yelled at the trees and slept. The only blight was the queue of aircraft descending on the Heathrow landing path. It meant that the superb displays of early summer blooms were accompanied by a noise level that Londoners seem inured to but which is an impediment to relaxation for those of us not tuned in to urban tinnitus.

Can I go home now

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