We’ve just arrived back from a week in the Netherlands and Belgium….but more on that another day. Let me first tell you about the preparatory trip we did before we left – to Holland Park, in West London. Believe it or not, I didn’t intentionally choose the park because we were off to the Netherlands the next day, but once the kids realised the pun, they were pretty delighted with it. Lucky that, as Eva had kicked up a fuss about not going to her choice of park – a small playground on a street corner in Walthamstow. Girl doesn’t know when she’s onto a good thing.
We were meeting Ellie and Wiley in a place that was convenient for none of us but Holland Park has a certain novelty value that’s hard to beat. I reviewed it on the very first day of this blog and believe I used the word “crazy-assed”. I stand by that opinion. It’s a park of many parts and none of them really fit together but that’s what makes it fun. We started by the art deco-y white wall in the grand terrace, which is how London always looked in my imagination as a kid. On the other side of the wall, you’ll be surprised to find a tropical garden:
I wasn’t cause I’ve been there before, but the kids were because it was too long ago for Roo to remember and Eva wasn’t even born then. We walked through the woods and the kids found a few good climbing trees and a wooden chair they completely refused to share nicely.
Then we stumbled across the very stern looking Lord Holland. Turns out that the park was named after his familial name rather than being anything much to do with the land of segregated cycle paths. Shh, don’t tell the kids.
We wandered through the woods, past a very manicured lawn and out to this huge stretch of green for our picnic. There were some people in orange t-shirts running a sports event and Wiley made a really good gag about them being the Dutch football team. I mention it here only because I never normally understand sports jokes so I was pretty pleased with myself.
We hung around there for an hour or so, lying on the grass and chatting while the kids climbed on the log and entertained each other. This is why we had Eva. I need to remmeber this sometimes. Then we moved on to the sand-filled toddler playground, which Roo is clearly too big for but this didn’t seem to bother him. He spent his time constructing this rather lovely sand-bridge:
Last time we were there, we only had a toddler so had no need of any bigger playgrounds but rumour has it there was another one somewhere. We also spent most of our time then trying to stop him running into this pond which I swear had ducks on it last time I looked:
This time, thankfully, the children were slightly more aware of the hazards. Didn’t stop me panicking when we were crossing this very narrow bridge in the Kyoto Garden though:
The Kyoto Garden! That was a treat we didn’t find before. It’s a peaceful space, so we didn’t dwell too long but it’s so pretty and atmospheric. We even spotted some peacocks lurking in there.
Oh yes, peacocks and giant chess. Just the crazy-assed park I remember. Giant chess, you say? Why yes, played by the world’s most nonchalant chess player. I’ve never seen anyone play chess in such a casual manner as this guy. And he was winning.
So it was inevitable we’d wind up in the hitherto unexplored adventure playground…and I’m glad we did. It was huge. There was a rocket ship the size of a house and a climbing frame with lots of little trampoline parts. We watched from afar as Eva tried to climb aboard but it was a bit wobbly for a nervous girl until a bigger child gave her a leg up. Didn’t deter her from scooting straight up the giant rocket tho.
So, I haven’t changed my vies on Holland Park – it’s as random and nonsensical as ever. But doesn’t that just add to its charm? On the way home, we sat exhausted all the way to Woodford on the Central Line because we were just too knackered to get off at Liverpool Street. That’s some quality fresh-air round-around time right there. And as for the real-life Holland? Even more fresh air and running around. I’ll get there…but maybe not today.