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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

I was reading Norma Farnes’ excellent biography of Spike Milligan last week and, lying in bed one night, I expressed an interest in visiting the Elfin Oak in Kensington Gardens, which he helped to restore in the 1970s, and which is mentioned quite often in the book with great affection.
This, then, is one of the things that I still find so exciting about living in London. The sheer novelty of thinking "I’d love to see that" and realising that, quite often, it is only short journey away. I’m not going to start harping on as if London is the centre of the world - it quite obviously is, but publicly agreeing with that fact tends to send the lesser minded into fits of jealous rage and venomous denial - but I do love the endless possibility of it all.



Anyway, here is a picture of a tiny detail of the Elfin Oak. It is created so beautifully, and preserved remarkably well, although it is a terrible shame that it needs to be hidden and protected behind a very heavy wire frame, rather than standing out in the open. I loved the intricate detail of it - I’d circled it twice already before I started to take some photos, and then realised that I’d missed an entire elfin tea party in the middle of the trunk, complete with table, chairs and cups being raised in a toast. It stands beside the Princess Diana memorial playground in Kensington, which we desperately wanted to have a jaunt around - it has a massive pirate boat in the middle of it, and all sorts of twists, turns and hidden delights - but you have to have a child with you to be able to enter it. We toyed with the idea of kidnapping borrowing a child for a moment or two, but decided against it.

We also strode manfully through Hyde Park in the biting wind as this was one of our twice-a-month-in-London trips, where we have to do something that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do anywhere else in the world, and obviously you can’t go and look at the Peter Pan statue anywhere else but in Hyde Park. What peaked my interest more, though, was the other memorial to Princess Diana there, the much derided fountain.


I wasn’t sure what to expect, having read a tremendous amount of negative press about it, how it was polluted and dirty, full of broken glass and falling children. Actually, it is a very beautiful, very peaceful place, very well maintained and, now that they’ve sorted out all of the teething problems, a lovely place to meander.

It’s designed so that, at each point, the water makes a different sound, sometimes babbling past, sometimes rushing, always moving, making different shapes and waves, moving at different speeds. I loved the way that, even though it wasn’t the sunniest of days, the light was caught and reflected in a stunning way at each part of the fountain, and I’m sure it changes with the light throughout the day, constantly giving you something new to look at.

In summary: I liked it.

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