I love urban parks.
Just as well since I live in the middle of an urban sprawl, but there’s actually something wonderful about being surrounded by buildings and traffic, whilst still enjoying the space, colours, sounds and freedom of our increasingly scarce green spaces. Living in Haggerston, I’m surrounded by these lovely little parks – small enough to start bumping into and getting to know fellow dog walkers within a week, but big enough to take our 4-legged friends for a good run and play without having to mind how hard you throw a ball. After all, you don’t want Fido to go fetching the ball out in rush hour traffic!
I’m always on the lookout for new urban parks, as we know ‘variety is the spice of life’, however I’m usually visiting either Stonebridge, Haggerston (my favourite), Shoreditch or Clissold Park; all of which are located within short walking distance from my flat. If I don’t fancy any of those, then there’s Rosemary Gardens and London Fields situated in spitting distance from Hipster Heaven Broadway Market (another one of my guilty pleasures. I love it there – but that will be a totally separate blog post).
If there is 1 thing you can say about Hackney, is there is always a choice. When my beloved urban parks become ‘no dog zones’ i.e. come summer when everyone seemingly realises they are there and take over with their food and young children, the vast expanse of Hackney Marshes is always there. Of course the food and young children are also there, but there is space for us all to enjoy the parkland together, without crowding in on each other. We all know dogs running free and picnics are probably not a good combo!
Today, Oscar and I spent a wonderful time at Haggerston Park, enjoying the beautiful autumn colours, playing ball and talking to other people doing the same. Parks show the very best of people I think. When we are relaxed and just being in the moment, we remember that we are social creatures and with dogs as our intermediaries, it becomes so easy just to start talking and enjoying the company of complete strangers. For me, this is another reason why our parks are essential. They are oases of calm; somewhere to escape from the noise and cut-and-thrust of London life. I have met some wonderful people in the peace of a park. I escape there when I am troubled or anxious, when I want to be on my own, enjoy some tranquility or just sit and read quietly. Who needs a reason to sit quietly on a park bench and people watch?
Having said that, I often find the nicest times to be in a park is when it is freezing cold and there are only a few die-hards there with their dogs; rednosed, numb fingered, soaking wet and/or covered in mud. I love the comaraderie of that – greeting each other with the ubiquitous ‘eye roll’ (it’s usually too cold to talk) and knowing smile. We know what we mean.
Park Life. I love it. x