Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Peace is Beautiful

September 19, 2010 · 1 Comment

I think that one of my favorite things about London is its parks.  I have mentioned before in some of my other posts that I don’t think I could ever live in a big city – the crowds and the hurry and the size just stress me out too much.  I’ve found that parks are one of the few places where you can have space to walk down a path in a straight line without having to dodge and weave and bump into people and say “sorry.”  I’ve found that parks are also a place where you are pretty much guaranteed a place to sit, and you don’t necessarily have to be within ten feet of another person either.  It’s lovely that London thought to create places where there is enough space for large amounts of people to be, unlike on the tube or on the streets, where there just simply isn’t.  The peace is more beautiful to me than all the trees and flowers and landscaping, although that is pretty too, and a nice break from the architectural chaos of London.  I think you really could lose yourself and forget about the city for awhile in parks if you wanted to.  When I visited Hyde Park*, I took the following two pictures of the lake:

Oh right, the city.  There it is.  These two pictures seem a bit incongruous; you could probably lie, and tell people that they are different lakes in different places, and they might believe you.

It seems that parks have several different uses for people in London.  The first park I visited was St. James Park, and there I joined many other people picnicking on their lunch break.  This seems much more enjoyable than inhaling a sandwich on the tube, and if I ever were to work in London, I would want a job where I could eat lunch in the park.  The other side of the bridge at St. James however, toward Buckingham Palace, is much more touristy.  I was alerted to this by the presence of an ice cream stand, and chairs that you could pay to sit in.  I don’t see this as a problem though, as tourists, I am sure, also need a break from the city.  Other uses I have seen for parks include

dog walking



or just being alone and doing whatever you want.

A last really important use for parks, I think, is creating a safe space for children.  Professor Qualls brought up this point on the Bloomsbury walking tour, when he took us past the Coram playground, and explained that it was fenced off because you were not allowed in unless you had a child.  I saw this again at the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Hyde Park.  It was fenced, plus there was a guard at the door checking people.  I witnessed a man come up to the guard and ask if he could see if his wife was in there with his son.  The guard told him he could not go in.  While this man probably was the father of a child, it is also possible that he could have been a child snatcher, and I personally am a fan of this playground rule that protects children against them.  I don’t think we have this in America, or at least I’ve never seen it.  At the playground near my house, high school kids smoke pot after school.

While I am excited to move to Norwich and escape the city more or less permanently, when I do return to London, parks will be on my list of places to revisit.

*Note: I am not exactly sure where Kensington Gardens ends and Hyde Park begins.  This lake could very well technically be in Kensington Gardens.  My apologies to Kensington Gardens if this is the case.

**Note also: all photos in this post are mine.  Sorry if you think I’m creepy for taking pictures of random people.  It was all in the spirit of academia.

Categories: 2010 Kaitlin
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1 response so far ↓

  •   Young Dennis // Sep 20th 2010 at 07:14

    While I really love the parks as well, I’ve experienced a little bit of “having to dodge and weave and bump into people and say ‘sorry.'” At Regent’s, there is a single track (i.e. it can only fit one person across) trail that is by far the best place in the park to run. When two runners are coming at each other from opposite directions, it more or less becomes a textbook social dis-ease moment. The general protocol is that the slower moving runner yields to the faster one, but usually both runners jump off the trail to avoid offending each other. Then there’s the problem of which side to move to; inevitably, when both runners try to yield to each other, they go to the same side. I’ve tried to ameliorate this by making eye contact and clearly indicating that I am moving to one side. I would say that I’m roughly 0/1000 in attempts to make eye contact.

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