My Secret Garden

Greendale Playing Fields, London, SE5

I feel so happy. I’ve found myself a new hangout. It might not be everyone’s idea of a delightful, contemplative and peaceful place to commune with nature; but for me, it’s close to idyllic. A secluded haven, tucked away behind my largest local supermarket.

Bursting through the gravelly asphalt, patches of vegetation are ripe for investigation. Fresh air drifts about, ready and waiting for deep inhalation. Space and time exist in which to think and dream. Birds, rustling leaves and distant football players merge to form a soundscape of nature and community.

Visual shelter on all sides is provided courtesy of overgrown undergrowth, attached to the chain-link fencing of what was once a tennis court. The painted white lines of the court are still faintly visible.

Perhaps it’s the gravelly floor and air of dereliction that make it appear uninviting. Admittedly, the gravel is a little spikey, but nothing a decent pair of trousers can’t handle. As for the air of dereliction – for me it signals the opening of new channels of communication between nature and the man-made constructions, resulting in the two interacting, intertwining, becoming reacquainted. I happily observe and enjoy their progress.

I wonder who else comes here. There must be others who love it in the same way I do. There’s the odd bit of broken glass lying around and one plastic bottle, but also a rusty chair. I wonder who, or what, I will find when I next visit.

I worry too. It’s the sort of place that a proactive council will happily regenerate, having misunderstood, disregarded, or possibly simply failed to notice its unconventional charm. It makes me think about some similar goings on over in the Lower Lee Valley…


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