pleasure gardens

Apologies for the month in between postings, after only two posts… Things have been rather hectic for me recently, with house moves, holiday and searching for gainful employment all in the mix. Lots to catch up on.

First off, dinner at the Bonnington Café, where my brother took me to cheer me up after a sadder day last month. It’s a community-run, vegetarian café in Vauxhall – local, non-professional types take it in turn to cook. It can be hit and miss foodwise, but it’s a lovely place, set in a really tranquil part of town, good and cheap… After a dinner of noodles Matt and I swung on the swings in Bonnington square, another community-looked-after spot, near the site of the old Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens (‘a major feature of London for three centuries; a place of curiosity, promenade and play’). It’s just a small square (the physical space created by bombing in the Second World War), but it’s an unexpectedly beautiful, calm haven in an already surprisingly peaceful part of London. And it has a huge wheel at one end:

The wheel at the end of the garden is a classic piece of Industrial Revolution Art dating from the 1860s. It was rescued from a nearby marble factory (under demolition as we were constructing) where it was used to ‘wet cut’ marble. Legend has it that once a year the wheel turns, bringing forth beautiful, crystal clear champagne from the worlds below… a delightful fishing boat that floated above the pergola on a sea of wisteria set sail one midnight eve ne’er to be seen again – but only ever for believers.

Bonnington Square Garden

There’s something achingly beautiful about gardens at night in summertime, and especially trees. This is a beautiful poem by Elaine Feinstein from her most recent collection of poetry, Talking to the Dead (2007, published by Carcanet) – I heard her and Michael Schmidt read at the launch of their respective books back in March, and have been slowly reading both volumes since.

Moving House

We used to travel light. Grandparents knew
how to pack up and go in a single night,
with house spirits in a shoe.
Three generations on, we’ve lost
the knack.

Watching, from bed, a full moon caught
by nets of leaves in a familiar tree
I thought
while we live here, a planetary fruit
belongs to me.

How can I bear to leave that glow behind?
Walking today, I laugh at the conceit;
the niche we make on earth is all we share.
As for the moon, we’ll find
her everywhere.

If only I could learn to travel light; just tonight I finished bringing up the last of my boxes from the cellar, ready to be moved into my new room on Saturday.

2 thoughts on “pleasure gardens”

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