Week two and I find myself in a park right in the centre of Central London, flanked by its crowning glory M&M’s World. Amid the tourists clutching brightly coloured bags, the religious salesmen vying for souls and minds and the street dancing trio vying for loose change and recognition, I didn’t find Leicester Square Gardens a particularly peaceful place.
Close as it is to the cultural behemoth of the National Gallery, it was covered in a film of fast food wrappers and sickly sweet smoke that someone was blowing in plumes from their electronic cigarette. I locked eyes with Shakespeare on his marble plinth and we shared a consolatory nod.
Admittedly I was visiting during its period of redesign, which explained the expanses of soil where the grass should have been, but, it lacked that unplaceable ‘thing’ that makes a place memorable, The Small Faces certainly wouldn’t have had a hit if they’d only visited here.
London, for such a large and sprawling metropolis is extremely well endowed with green space. A map of London looks like an irregular patchwork quilt with parks, gardens and open spaces of all shapes and sizes. I, for one, have no idea the exact number or relative virtues of each, so, in the search for enlightenment, I have set myself the task of visiting a park each week and documenting what I find. For the first week, in a rather understated start, is Harrington Square Gardens.
I would like to say my choice of park wasn’t motivated by the apocalyptically heavy rain that ushered in 2017, but, frankly it was. I have to admit to a rather fleeting visit, inspired at least partially by the intensely quizzical expressions from those passing by, and the fact that I could substantially dry off if I were to take a dip in the Regent’s Canal, thankfully, however, the park is very small, so I think my exploration of it was satisfactory to pass judgement.
Located a stone’s throw from Mornington Crescent tube station, Harrington Square Gardens is very modest. To give it the title ‘Gardens’ is a perhaps an overstatement, admittedly it does have trees, grass and even a few benches, but these are surely the very base qualifications that a garden must possess.
The park itself houses a circular pathway centering on an undersized Christmas tree. Whether the tree was planted as an afterthought for Christmas just passed, or whether they’re playing the long game for a Christmas yet to come is unclear, but that is undoubtedly the focal point. It is fairly difficult to attain a favourable view of a park in a dress rehearsal of the great flood, but I feel as though the Gardens are sorely underappreciated, modest as they are, as I have honestly never seen another soul in there. I did see an advertisement for a BBQ, which is early, late or optimistic, but I hope it does at least indicate some regular patrons.