I am not a born Londoner, and for much of the time I like to believe I’d prefer living elsewhere. That is until I make the effort to deviate from my normal home-to-work route and experience the city anew. It has been my personal challenge for the last month to change my daily journey between Highgate and Victoria, taking in a new open space or urban village each time. Today’s departure took me to Regent’s Park, which I am ashamed to say I have barely set foot in during thirteen years working in the capital. This is, in a word, unforgivable.
I always feel that if any place – city, village or garden – doesn’t look its best in spring it’s got a problem. London this April has no such worries. The comparison with 2013, when spring remained stymied until May, is incredible. Regent’s Park is already filled with May’s flowers: low mists of forget-me-nots pierced by arrow-straight tulips, cumulus clouds of lilac and ceanothus; fluttering showers of virginal cherry blossom. Horse chestnuts and lime trees are already in leaf, their delicate tissue still so gossamer-thin that the evening sun shines straight through; a precious, fleeting moment in time. William Nestfield’s Avenue Gardens are bright and beautiful, the backdrop for many a happy, smiling snapper. Regent’s Park this evening was enough to restore anyone’s faith in human nature; a melting pot of nations, classes and ages, all enjoying this most elegant and democratic of spaces after a long day in the city. On days like today I do not feel content to live in London, but proud and priviledged.