15 Jun 2014

London's Annual Open Squares Weekend

Each year a large number of private garden squares in London open their gates and welcome the public in to have a look around (for a small fee). I've never been to any before, so yesterday Murray and I met up with a couple of friends for a picnic at Cadogan Place gardens. There was a brass band (playing a little too quickly!), and the sun tried to peak out. A few white, middle-class, middle-aged people wandered about looking at the pretty flowers, or sat nearby enjoying their Saturday afternoon out. I didn't take my camera out with me, as it was grey and overcast.

Today we headed back out, even though the sky was still covered with ominous-looking clouds, this time taking the dog, as a few of them allowed your four-legged friends in. We started in Battersea Park, where some of the gardens were included in the list of open squares (although I think they're always open and free to visit anyway). We wandered through the herb garden, the Old English garden (Henry not allowed in that one, in spite of the booklet saying it was dog-friendly) and then to a Thrive visitors centre (an organisation that helps 200 disabled Londoners use gardening as a method of therapy).

After a few games of catch with the dog in the main areas of the park, we headed across Chelsea Bridge in search of Eccleston and Warwick Square gardens. They were both very pretty, with tennis courts, a huge variety of trees, including some palms, and beautiful, colourful flowers, teeming with bees desperate for pollen. There weren't huge numbers of people visiting, but there were some armed with cameras, and a few families, who looked as if they were probably residents and visited every weekend.

Eventually we got a bit cold and the dog got a bit whiny, so we headed home, crossing the Ebury rail-bridge overlooking Battersea Power Station in the distance, before getting one of the new No. 11 buses along the King's Road. There's a great vantage point from the front seats at the top, and the design is such that there's not much reflection on the glass - perfect for a few shots of the King's Road below.

The clouds still lingered over Eel Brook Common as we neared home - some of them looked like mammatus clouds (one of my favourite!). Hopefully the weather will be better next year, and we'll be a little more organised, deciding which gardens to visit a bit further in advance, as it's quite a unique opportunity to get some insight into the private little world of the inhabitant of these extortionate squares which we only got a tiny glimpse of this weekend.

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