I’ve heard it said that not everyone loves London. It’s too big, too impersonal, too noisy, too expensive. The last are a little hard to argue with, but the first are a question of perspective.
We all need a human-scale retreat. In my patch of Bloomsbury, awash with squares, crescents and grand museums, my personal retreat is an irregularly-shaped patch of grass and flowers called St George’s Gardens. It’s not grand, but it is lovely. I make a habit of visiting early in the morning, when the only people around are a few dog-walkers and the ever-cheerful gardener, opening up for the day.
I stroll the winding paths, enjoying white wild roses, bluebells, little stars of jasmine, and overarching great green trees. Today I returned at lunchtime, to sprawl on the grass while all around office workers met for picnics, to read books, or even stretch out and have a nap after their sandwiches.
It used to be (still is) a graveyard, one of the first buriel grounds created when the church yards became full. There are a few interesting tombs (my favourite is the grand-daughter of Oliver Cromwell) but it’s in no way gloomy. A human-scale park, where only the hum of passing traffic tells you that you’re in the heart (a very human heart) of London.