Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holland Park, The Hidden Gem

One of the best things about living in Kensington is the amount of green space. Growing up surrounded by trees and woods, if I didn't have access to parks I think I'd go crazy. We're so lucky that Kensington Gardens is just around the corner that we tend to forget Holland Park is only a ten-minute walk away.

Kensington Gardens is always populated by tourists gawking at Kensington Palace and the Diana Memorial. But Holland Park tends to be locals only. Rarely do you see tourists wandering through the immaculate Japanese Gardens or examining the peacocks by the Orangery.

While Kensington Gardens is neatly groomed, with paved walkways through widely spaced trees, Holland Park has dirt paths through winding pines. You almost feel like you're in the forest, away from everything - remarkable when you're surrounded by 8 million souls in the centre of the city.

One of my favourite memories of Holland Park is of one summer night, when the Egyptian and I went for a walk just as dusk was falling. As we pushed aside the gate into Holland Park, opera music from Mozart's Magic Flute drifted through the warm air, coming from the Open Air Opera that's performed every summer in the park. We sat on a bench and listened to the music as darkness tainted the sky, watching the lights of the planes on their way to Heathrow. Without paying for the £50 ticket, we had a brilliant performance in one of the best seats in the house.

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