[ 17:00 saturday 24 june – middle bathing pond, hampstead heath, london ]
there are three of these ponds on hampstead heath, of which this one is my favourite. i dislike swimming pools so in the absence of the sea this place is a haven. the water is brownish from the peaty soil but it is clean. the pond is large enough never to feel crowded, even on a glorious day like today. one swims surrounded by willow trees and gigantic azure dragon-flies, accompanied by birdsong and the babble of happy voices. the centre of the heath is one of few places in london where the eternal rumble of traffic doesn’t penetrate. what bliss.
indeed the last three weeks in london have borne an uncanny resemblance to summer. every day i take breakfast and supper on the roof. the camelia and rhododendron have already flowered, the oleander and hydrangea are coming into bud now. i love sitting up there in an island of tranquility with the world flowing around me.
the biggest difference the serene weather makes is its impact on londoners themselves. instead of the usual grim and downturned faces the streets are filled with smiles and laughter. people walk differently, more meandering strolls and fewer purposeful strides. people are even less uptight about bantering with strangers. if london were like this for six months each year (heck, even for three solid months) it would not be such a bad place to live. but alas these days are all too fleeting and before we know it they will be gone.