AFTER JUST 15 minutes or so brisk walking from Kings Cross, I’m in Regent’s Park.
I’d usually head for the zoo but today I’ve decided to explore the Park itself. I’ve
never been to the Broadwalk Café before but I think it’s going to become a favourite
stopping off point for me. I’m sitting at a table in the shade of the veranda, sheltered
from both the sun and the cool breeze. The panorama in front of me, here in central
London, is entirely green. Trees in fresh foliage, acres of grass, with distant figures
in white flannel playing out the summer ritual of a cricket game. It’s so English!
I feel that I’ve discovered some far pavilion.
Even the pigeons seem relaxed as I draw them. I’m sure the one that is sunning itself
will move when a lady ties up three large dogs by a table just a few yards away from
it. It gives them a brief look-over then settles back to its reverie.
I can’t help contrasting this with my walk through Thornes Park in Wakefield this
morning. They’ve installed a concrete skateboard course, the size of a couple of
tennis courts between the back of an enormous sports shed and the old college, now
suggested in the new local plan as an area to develop for housing. The skateboard
park has proved very popular but inevitably it has attracted its crop of graffiti
- the tired old illegible overblown signatures, obscene drawings and even some racial
abuse. It’s our largest city park but we seem to have lost the ‘green lung’ concept
that our Victorian forefathers bequeathed to us. Give me Regent’s Park any day!
Sleeping . . .
. . . preening
Despite my comments, Thornes Park has lots to recommend it. I’ve recently revamped
the format of my illustrated guide to its thousand year history, available online
from Willow Island Editions, £2.99, plus postage.