Glorious sunshine filled the flat today and I spent a lunch break out on the balcony staring towards the peak of Crystal Palace park on the horizon.
This time last year there was also a great spell of weather and it was the first time I went to Crystal Palace for a weekend walk. It’s only a 20 minute bus ride from me but feels extremely far away at the moment.
It’s an unusual green space located on and around the old remnants of The Crystal Palace proper – a huge glass structure that was transported to south London after being used for the Great exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851. This of course, is the whole area’s namesake, although it sadly burnt down in 1936.
Today, a few quirky tokens of this feat of Victorian era engineering (apparently three times the size of St Paul’s Cathedral) still exist.
The colossal sphinxes have received a generous makeover and greet walkers like me that enter from the main gates. The now infamous dinosaurs also still draw the crowds – albeit mostly bewildered kids who know that the T-Rex is grossly disfigured.
Since last spring I’ve gone back several times, not for the park’s history but its diverse green areas and birdlife. On a good day I can spot between 30 and 40 species. There are wide open spaces next to the old palace ruins; a little woodland around the northern edge of the park; and a large open lake. It’s home to a mixture of smaller species like nuthatches and goldcrests but also lots of larger waders and different types of geese.
I can’t wait to get back there. To pace my usual route and not take it for granted.
To grab my cappuccino to go as I always do but appreciate that I’m able to. To smile and greet people on the same path as me, just because it’s a wonderful sunny day. In the meantime its place on the horizon is a lovely reminder of London’s brilliant spaces and places that will be there for us at the end of the lockdown, whenever that may be.