You can do almost anything in London. There’s a 24-hour bagel shop, a different West End show for every day of the week and numerous restaurants serving the kind of freakshakes that might stop your heart. When people talk about why they love London, they talk about the food, the theatre, the mass of people to meet and the never-ending list of things to do. There are art galleries and flower markets and even a museum filled with body parts in jars. I once needed emergency dental care and someone offered me an appointment at 11pm. You can do anything here. Almost.
One thing it can be difficult to do is go outside and find somewhere green. The main trade-off you make when living in a megacity like London is the access to nature. London tries. There are parks a-plenty, full of enough grass, ponds and birds to make you forget that you live in one of the most urbanised, densely populated places on Earth.
We live in a particularly grass-less part of London. We’re close to Southwark Park, but as London parks go, Southwark Park is definitely the awkward kid trying to get the cool kids to notice them. Living next to the river is wonderful, but the lack of green spaces is notable, especially through the summer.
Fortunately, there are other places we can go. Hampstead Heath and its ponds were a regular summer occurrence and I’ve had many picnics in Hyde Park over the years. You’ve probably heard of those ones.
You might not have heard of Brockwell Park, located between Herne Hill, Brixton and Dulwich. Along with lots of excellent grass, Brockwell Park also has ponds, a flower garden, a clock tower and Brockwell Lido. As London parks go, it’s a good one.
After spending the bulk of Sunday inside, Jake started jittering like a puppy on drugs. “I just need to go outside.”
I was somewhere on the ‘ugh, why?’ side of ambivalent. But, given we were headed over there anyway to see Jake’s parents, I tentatively agreed. I grabbed my camera, just in case.
We arrived just as the clouds started turning pink and settled in to watch the sunset develop. It was spectacular. What is it about sunsets and sunrises?
We ran around as the sunset developed, watching not only the colourful clouds but also the planes as they lined up in the sky, preparing to land at Gatwick. An unusual skill I’ve picked up in the past year is being able to predict, with startling accuracy, which airport each plane is about to land at.
This is not a skill anyone needs but it’s something you can pick up by osmosis in London, much like knowing where to stand on the tube platform to end up directly in front of a train door or knowing where the fastest changes between different tube lines are (e.g. Jubilee to Bakerloo at Baker Street: one minute change across the platform. Jubilee to Piccadilly at Green Park: many minutes and escalators. This is the stuff my brain is now full of). I realise that these are all transport related but you do spend an alarming amount of time just getting from place to place so it pays to get your regular routes down pat.
All the rushing around is part of the problem. Constantly moving from place to place, storing up quick tube changes and one-way systems to shave a minute or so off a journey. It’s a bit mad. There was an amazing sunset last Friday evening, and I couldn’t even tear my colleagues away from their desks long enough to pop upstairs and get a better look. And people wonder why they always feel they have too much to do, somewhere else to be.
After watching the sunset develop and a number of planes come in to land, my camera battery was flashing red and my fingers were cramping up from the cold. We headed back to the house.
I’d already posted my Get Snappy post for the week, a few hours too soon. I suddenly had a whole stream of photos I wanted to add for that week. I updated it with a few, but decided to put the bulk of them here.
One of the best moments of photographing a sunset is when you barely have to change the colours in editing because it was naturally so layered and bright. I’m super pleased with some of these shots. Shout-out to the Brockwell Park trees for creating such banging silhouettes.
I don’t want to end this blog with a pretentious, sappy suggestion to make it a priority go outside and be in nature, even in London. But, you know… go outside. Be in nature. Especially in London. You’ll thank yourself.