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Blog 14: Blog from a member, Andrew Beverley

Blog 14: Blog from a member, Andrew Beverley

The Parks at night
I find the parks delightful during the day, but I find them even more enchanting at night. Having shaken off my fear of the dark during a spell in the Territorial Army, I now love to spend time in the parks at night. They are so much more peaceful than during the day, and in some ways more beautiful. Here I describe some of my experiences.

Setting off on a late night run, I enter the park at Victoria Gate. Beginning the run on lit roads is not dissimilar to roads outside the park. Getting slightly off the beaten track is where the magic begins. I head past the Old Police House, which still has a gentle glow to it. I pass nearby New Lodge, now rented as a private residence. Dwellers are home, and it feels like I am passing a cosy cottage in the middle of the countryside. In the darkness of subsequent paths I see glimpses of the moon through the trees, and the only sound is that of the trees rustling in the wind.

I head to the Serpentine. The moon shimmers on the dark water. At first glance it looks like all the waterfowl are asleep on the surface, but on closer inspection there is a hive of activity as they bob around in the quiet waters.

As I run along the south side I spot my first human being, resting in the dark on a bench. Bats buzz around my head, just visible in the barely-lit sky.

I head back round into the centre of the park, and out of nowhere I stumble across what appears to be an impromptu party. A group of Eastern Europeans are dancing to Europop around a small lantern. What might normally be annoying is somehow surreal and almost beautiful. I pass them like watching something go past the window whilst travelling by train.

Other times I have taken a stroll in the dark after a long day sat at the computer. I have encountered other musical extravaganzas. One time, tucked well away from paths, I came upon what must have been close to 100 people being entertained by a small acoustic band. Somehow I didn’t find this a problem; it was all part of the surprises one encounters at this time. As I walk on the path south towards The Lookout, I see what I think are lights placed onto the path. I get closer and I see that they are actually the tops of gas lamps, an optical illusion with the dip of the path.

The gas lamps are one of my favourite things of the park at night. They glow so beautifully in a way that no modern light ever can. We are so fortunate that they were saved from presumed removal and are now retained as a listed feature.

During more normal times my wife and I find delight in returning from an evening in the West End by bicycle. Enjoying a traffic-free route from the Embankment, we cycle side-by-side, chatting away, and head up Constitution Hill to enter the park at Hyde Park Corner. It feels like a different world. We cycle along Serpentine Road with nobody else around and now in almost silence, just the whir of our wheels. Those gas lamps make us feel like we have gone back in time to a simpler and gentler era. My mind imagines the alternative modes of transport we could have taken: the brash lights of the tube or the noisy roads from within a taxi, and I consider how fortunate we are to have such a blissful and pleasant end to the evening.

I haven’t mentioned Kensington Gardens, because it is of course closed at night. I am reliably informed this is just as, if not more beautiful, partly because of its complete absence of lighting at night. The only exception being the circling police car with its spotlight, hunting for those who may have overstayed their welcome.

I hope you have enjoyed this, and whilst I encourage everyone to experience the same pleasures, I also secretly hope that my enjoyment of the parks at night continues to retain its silent and quiet existence, with so few others around.

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