Today we had a leisurely start and it was nearly 8 am when I got up. It was a damp grey day so to cheer ourselves up, we thought we’d go to Alfie’s for breakfast, even though it means going a little further than Chapel Market. We caught the 205 to Marylebone station and walked from there.
At Alfie’s antiques market you can take the lift to the second floor and walk up, or take it to the third floor and walk down. On a fine day you can sit outside on the roof-top terrace and enjoy the views and the big sky but today seemed like a good day for staying indoors, though the sun did put in a brief appearance as we settled at a table beside the window.
Alfie’s does a good vegetarian breakfast and although the late lamented Solo Bar in Camden Town used to top it, it’s currently one of the best available in the area.
After breakfast we walked through the Church Street market to the Edgware Road. By now the sun was shining a little more consistently and it was quite warm. I guessed Tigger had a plan in mind, so I happily followed her to the bus stop. Here we caught a bus to Marble Arch, where we had a little look around the shops, then another that took as along the Bayswater Road and into Holland Park Avenue.
We got off the bus at Holland Walk. This is an upward sloping street off the main road, closed to motor vehicles but with marked tracks for pedestrians and cyclists. Its leafy atmosphere comes as a surprise so near to the main road full of traffic. At the top of the rise, through a gate, a muddy path invites you into Holland Park itself. By now, it was a warm sunny day, perfect for strolling in the park.
The park offers a mixture of formal gardens laid out in geometrical patterns and open areas where people can stroll and sit and children can play.
There is also wild life to watch, including the inevitable pigeons and squirrels, and we spent time watching a particularly noisy crow in a tree!
In the park there is a cafe where we stopped for coffee. Unfortunately, as it was Saturday there were parents and grandparents with young children who were allowed to run about and yell and fight with one another unchecked but for the occasional ineffectual chiding from the adults.
In many places, works of art are on display, including the cafe where this piece by Gill is to be found.
There are several interesting buildings in the park, including Holland House, whose grounds the present park once formed, the Ice House and the Orangery which also includes the Belvedere restaurant.
And finally, a cautionary tale. This 19th century bronze sculpture in the park represents Milo of Croton, seen struggling with a split oak tree. Why? You might well ask.
Milo was an Ancient Greek wrestler and athlete, living in the late 6th century BC. Legend has it that, out walking one day, he came across an oak tree that was partially split and still had a wedge in the crack. Milo decided to see whether he could split the tree asunder with his bare hands. Unfortunately, his efforts dislodged the wedge, whereupon his hands became trapped and he remained thus a prisoner of the tree until he was devoured by a pack of wolves.
What is the meaning of the story? Is it that pride can cause you to overreach and come to grief? Or that you should not interfere in matters that do not concern you, especially when there are wolves about? Personally, I think it is that however strong and clever you may be, life always gets you in the end.