About two weeks ago, I decided to venture into Central London and spend my afternoon reading and contemplating. The first spot I went to was one of my favourite spots, namely London’s lovely South Bank. I spent some time at the daily second-hand book market under Waterloo Bridge, then I walked along the River Thames and found a free bench to sit down on and look across the water. South Bank was quite busy that day so I thought it was lucky I had found a free spot for myself. I read a little until I felt a bit cold and thought it was time to move around again a bit. It was an absolutely nice day, even though a cold wind was blowing.
The actual reason I had gone into Central London on that day was in order to visit Kyoto Garden in Holland Park. The closest I ever got to a Japanese garden before this little trip was through photographs and documentaries. Although I would have loved to see a Japanese garden in Japan, I was intrigued to see the London version. After all, it had been offered to the United Kingdom by the Japanese themselves so I expected it to be “genuine”. I caught the tube from Waterloo and ended up getting off at Notting Hill Gate. I could have got off the tube one stop later, at Holland Park, but I was in the mood for walking and taking everything in that was coming my way. I didn’t regret that decision because it allowed me to discover quite a few interesting things. It was pretty much through coincidence that I found out that there was an American Food Store located near Holland Park Station. It was already late and I wanted to spend as much time as possible at Holland Park, so I decided to postpone my visit to the American grocery shop. I hope I’ll find the time in the near future to check it out as they sell American candy.
I had no idea where exactly the park was and I just followed my instinct. I walked up a hill and gaped at all the white rows of prestigious houses and wished I had enough money to buy a house there. I know that Kensington and Chelsea are both considered “posh” boroughs but it still struck me how much the architecture in London changes after only walking for a couple of minutes.
Also, apparently I can fully trust my intuition because I found Holland Park without getting lost. You could say that my nose simply followed the scent of fresh spring flowers and nature. As soon as I entered the park through a small, inconspicuous gate, the smell of flowers completely overwhelmed me. It made me realise how much I had missed the smell and look of spring flowers. The entrance of the park was so beautiful and colourful, I could have spent the whole afternoon just sitting there but we all know I had other plans.
Holland Park is special. It makes you feel like you’re actually in a forest. It’s easy to forget you’re actually in a city (until you run into the first group of loud tourists and/or realise how minutely structured and organised everything is). After half an hour I finally figured out where I could find that Japanese Garden.
It seems to be a popular place to go to because the tiny garden was crowded with all kinds of people. Slightly curious, I observed the groups of Japanese tourists who carefully analysed every single plant or ornament and heatedly discussed it among themselves. Some Spanish-speaking teenagers were hanging out near the small waterfall, commenting on the big carps swimming around in the pond. I wished the garden had been a bit calmer but studying the sheer minimalism of the place made it a relaxing and special experience nonetheless. I can imagine the garden to be a great place to meditate at in the morning.
Pictures taken by Laetitia Kaiser (some rights reserved)