There are many different kinds of secrets in the world and in a big city like London most of them have already been discovered by someone. There are tourist guides that will help you find these so-called “secret places” of London but how secret can they be if thousands of people buy the book and they all go on the same trips to discover all the same secrets?
I recently discovered a place in the middle of the city which is not only a well-known, very public secret but also one that has been discovered by millions before me. Yet, when my friend Claudia and I went to Holland Park last week, it really felt exactly like we were discovering a hidden secret, as if no one else has ever been there before us to realise how wonderful it is. Unlike many of the other much bigger public parks like Regent’s Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, Holland Park wasn’t a very busy place when we went to see it and it felt secret exactly for that reason.
A high white wall sorrounds the park and hides it from view from the surrounding streets of Kensington, making you unable to peak inside to guess what hides behind the wall. And as you walk in through the black ornamented iron gate, you go “oh!” because you couldn’t possibly have imagined that the park would look anything like that. It was so different from the brown gravel paths, straight lines of trees and manicured flat lawns of Kensington Gardens and Regent’s Park and a lot more colourful.
Parts of Holland Park reminded me more of hidden country woodland than a place in the city with tall forrest trees, open meadows filled with flowers, tall grasses and the sunlight reaching down on the ground.
Other parts of the park reminded me more of the ornamental 17th Century style Queen Garden I saw lust summer when I went to Kew Gardens with my parents. As we walked further into Holland park we saw a garden surrounded by crumbling brick cottage walls closing around pathways lined with benches around an arrangement of box hedges filled with flowers and plants, ponds and sculptures.
There was also the most exotic and wonderful Japanese Garden. Me and Claudia loved walkind around the Kyoto Garden with its traditional Japanese rock formations and water features, leading over stone bridges next to waterfalls, where we stood for a moment and looked down at the orange Koi fish shimmering in the water of the small lake.
There weren’t that many other people in the park and it felt like such a peaceful place to be, hidden from the streets as it was behind those white walls. I will definitely be coming back again another time when I need a quiet place and will add it to my list of favourite green spaces. Maybe next time I will bring my family to show them how unique this secret park is from all the others! *