On my journeys around London I have been spotting little traces of colour, including a couple of trees on my road sprouting blossom! Spring is my favourite time of year and I love to see colour appearing everywhere (and the sun occasionally making an appearance from behind the clouds) so thought I would take a stroll to nearby Dulwich park to see if there was any signs of Spring around there.
Although it is not one of London’s biggest open spaces, Dulwich park has a lot to offer and something for everyone. Runners and dog walkers are around at all times but there are quite a lot of sporting facilities available. The tennis courts and basketball courts are free and open from 8am until closing and there is fitness equipment dotted around, mostly near the play area so no excuse for parents not to get in a quick workout while the kids are playing!
There is a pretty little boating lake which is open between April and October where we have spent many an afternoon navigating our pedal boat into the bushes.
Next to the lake is a lovely little café with indoor and outdoor seating, which serves drinks, snacks and hot meals. I don’t think I have ever been to the park and it has not been busy inside so obviously a popular choice for visitors.
In my search for colour I only seemed to come across these plants which have quite an autumnal feel so I had to rely on the artwork to brighten up the day.
So even though Spring was not in the air it was still nice to get out and about surrounded by greenery and getting my steps up on my Fitbit.
Have you seen any signs of Spring where you live?
Situated between Streatham and Norwood, Streatham common is a mass of green space that is hard to miss. I have lived in and around the area for over 20 years and so have spent a lot of time on the common. I have attended festivals, fun fairs, bonfire nights and even school sports days on the common and it is easy to forget that you are surrounded by busy roads, even more so if you venture up to the rookery.
I imagine it is usually an oasis of calm strolling around the paths of the rookery but I attended on the last day of term when the children were chasing each other around with the buzz of the beginning of the summer holidays, I am surprised I managed to avoid capturing them whizzing by in my photos.
The rookery is filled with the colours of summer and has loads of seating areas to just sit around and enjoy the tranquillity.
There were little pockets of water and you can see the tracks where they connected forming a stream, unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be running at the moment which is a shame as this would have made a lovely feature.
I only ventured around the back paths, as it was so busy I avoided going to the rookery café but will definitely be going back over summer to explore further.
I am planning a lovely little getaway over Easter with my two girls, we are hoping to visit Italy but struggling to decide which part to visit as it all seems so beautiful!
In the meantime, to keep myself busy, I have put together a list of places I would like to visit locally.
- Sky garden – A lot of people pay to go up to the top of the Shard to experience the views over London but it can be pricey. I have heard that the views are just as good from the sky garden and free so win, win! I imagine as it’s free that it gets really busy but a friend from university works there and has recommended going in the morning as it is quite empty so I think breakfast at the Sky garden is in order!
- Emirates cable car – I have wanted to do this or ages but want to go when there are clear skies so I can get a good view over the Thames so I think springtime would be perfect.
- The Saatchi gallery – With Sloane square, Kensington and Chelsea surrounding it the Saatchi gallery is situated in a perfect place to explore. I have been past it many times but never seen an exhibition in there, I have my eye on the upcoming ‘From selfie to self expression’ exhibition. Exploring the history of the selfie and highlighting the emerging role of the mobile phone as an artistic medium it sounds very interesting!
- Somerset house – This is an amazing building with so much history and has loads of events and exhibitions to visit. I am particularly interested in seeing the photography exhibition of Malick Sidibe who chronicles the lives and culture of the city of Bamako.
- Kensington gardens – With London being such a built up city we are still lucky that we have so many amazing green spaces and parks. I cant wait for all the spring colours to start blooming and would like to explore some of the parks that are not so close to home for a change.
- Movie at the Southbank – I love going to the movies and the BFI at the south bank has lots of independent or old movies that are not always on show at other local cinemas so it makes a nice change. The last movie I saw there was with a class I was supporting and it was a subtitled Polish adventure and we all really enjoyed it.
- The photographers gallery – This is the first gallery in Britain dedicated entirely to photography, they have exhibitions, workshops, events and talks updated regularly. I am interested in seeing the Roger Mayne exhibition hat opens in March looking at London communities in the 1950s and 1960s.
- Borough market – I haven’t been to Borough market since I was young and my daughter works just around the corner so I have decided that I will meet her for lunch and see what the market has to offer, I’m sure there is a lot as it always looks really busy when I go past it.
- The V&A museum – I love the V&A, described as the worlds leading museum for art and design, it is definitely one of my favourites and always has interesting things on show. At the moment they have a history of photography exploring the body and Beatrix Potters London which both look interesting.
- Posh hotel for afternoon tea – I love the little sandwiches and cakes displayed on cake stands it just looks so cute and I always see those offers on sites like Groupon with really good deals, so I may just be posh for the day and have some afternoon tea!
If you could visit anywhere in London where would you go?
On Wednesday I was invited, as a TimeOut tastemaker, to the opening of the magical lantern festival held in the grounds of Chiswick house in West London.
The festival is to celebrate the upcoming Chinese new year, which this year is the year of the rooster. The theme for the festival is ‘Explore the silk road’ and it is filled with amazing pieces of art in the form of oversized lantern scenes lit up in bright colours.
I am not very familiar with Chiswick so tried to plan my route as best I could, unfortunately there seemed to be some sort of flood on the Victoria line so I had to take a total of four buses to get there!
I took my daughter and it was a freezing cold evening which she wasn’t impressed with. Once we reached the park and could see the giant handmade sculptures through the fence we had to navigate our way around passing three gates that were all closed before asking a passer by to direct us to the correct entrance. I think they should definitely have better signage or another entrance because I was already worn out before even getting there!
Once inside the park I was really impressed with the amount of sculptures on show, they seemed to go on for ever and I only managed to photograph a few because my hands were just too cold to hold the camera.
My favourite scenes were the ones overlooking the lake as the reflection of the lights on the water make them look even more magical. We followed a trail which you could take at your own pace and half way round there was an area that sold marshmallows that you could heat up on the fire and a few other pop up shops (unfortunately I didn’t notice any that sold coffee). There is apparently an ice rink and other attractions such as fair ground rides but I didn’t see them, although we were in a rush as we knew we had a long journey home and we were freezing (did I mention it was cold)
I think had the night been a bit milder and we didn’t have to walk miles to find the entrance to the park we would have enjoyed it more and stuck around to see what else was happening but I am glad that I got to see the amazing work and would definitely recommend a visit, especially with little ones.
The festival is on until 26th February and tickets are around £14 for a child (4-16) and £20 for an adult but there are other prices for families, groups and concessions.
I’m not really a big fan of autumn, if I’m honest it is probably my least favourite season (only behind winter because that has Christmas!) but I do like to take a stroll and appreciate all the autumnal colours.
I am a Londoner and have lived all over the city but there are so many parts that I am yet to explore. On a recent visit to Notting Hill I came across Avondale park. It is one that I have never heard of before, probably because it is quite small and more of a community park than one that has an influx of visitors.
The park wasn’t very busy although I can imagine that when school finishes it is probably full of kids as it has a great range of climbing equipment suitable for all ages and a picnic area where parents can enjoy a hot drink while the kids play.
I really like the modern structure that houses the toilets and a small tuck shop, the wooden design compliments the rest of the park without looking too out of place.
Continue reading “An Autumn stroll – Avondale park”