On Thursday I went to Kew Gardens for the day to see the new Henry Moore exhibition. I love Kew Gardens. Nearly eleven years ago, G and I went there for our second date, and when he showed enthusiasm for all the newly-green trees and spring bulbs sprouting around us, I knew I had found someone I could grow old with (or at least witter on about trees to for a very long time).
But much as I love Kew, its a surprisingly long way from where we live, and so I don't go very often. There are many green spaces in the East End (in contrast to the unremitting blue-grey of the EastEnders credits which is many people's perception of where we live), and here is my list of favourites:
- West Ham Park - a photo from here forms the banner at the top of this blog. Best in the summer when you can laze under the trees eating ice creams and the children can run wild in the fantastic and huge playground.
- Victoria Park in Hackney - best for children with bikes and slides so steep and dangerous that I can't bear to watch.
- Valentines Park in Ilford - best for old fashioned tea rooms, a bandstand and tame squirrels and ducks that will come and eat out of your hand.
- Weald Country Park in South Weald near Brentwood - best for friendly deer and huge cavernous rhodedendron bushes that are so big you can go exploring inside them.
- Epping Forest from Leyton out to darkest Essex. There are so many nice parts to Epping Forest, and there's nothing to it other than trees. Its a proper, ancient piece of woodland, unspoilt by playgrounds, cricket grounds or ornamental tulip beds. When we go there we clamber over logs, stomp through mud and kick leaves everywhere.
You couldn't get more of a contrast than Kew Gardens and Epping Forest, but there's room for both in my life. Trees are good wherever they grow.