Marco and I went for a long stroll in Claybury Park on Saturday. This is a big public green space on the outskirts of London, in Redbridge. The park used to be the grounds of a psychiatric hospital in the 19th century, and part of its landscape was created in the 1800s. While he hospital buildings have now been converted into luxury apartments, there are remnants of the old infrastructure. We passed an overgrown tennis court, and it is believed that the ghosts of former patients linger.
We entered the park via an open grassland, walking towards a jungle of mature oaks and blooming hawthorn. The online brochure had promised bluebells in springtime. The season started early this year, so we were too late to see them in their full glory. The ancient oaks, sun-speckled paths and many other wildflowers made up for that. From Hospital Hill, we had a magnificent view of London. Looking back towards the woodland, the old estate home and the hospital tower nestled among the lush new green of the old trees. The perfect illusion of being in the countryside. Then the reminder that we were in the city: an apartment tower looming above the treetops. Mothers in picnic chairs having a fag while watching their kids scale the monkey bars on a playground. The ubiquitous hum of urban traffic.
On our way back to the car, we happened upon some surreal additions to the forest. There were stairs leading up a tree trunk and a pretty porcelain bowl sunken into another. I have since found this, and am keen to go back and discover the other installations.
I enjoyed exploring that day. Places like Claybury Park always help me make temporary peace with living in a huge, soul-drenching metropolis. Finding a little wilderness like this gives me the chance to recharge and feel like a child of nature for a few hours. Have you recently discovered something new where you live? If yes, I'd love to read about it in a comment!