The world is full of amazing and beautiful places, but there are some that just feel special somehow. Perhaps because of a memory connected with that particular spot or because the sight of it fills you with awe. I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite a lot and have visited various well-known sites such as Machu Picchu in Peru, the Acropolis in Athens, the Pyramids in Egypt and Himeji Castle in Japan. They take your breath away and you store that feeling away in your mind to think about from time to time.
But sometimes there can be special places closer to home, somewhere to go when you need to recover some of your inner harmony, or wa as the Japanese say. Or when you just want to sit and contemplate the beauty all around you. For me, the Japanese Garden in Holland Park here in London is one such. No matter what time of year it is, this is always a special place.
In spring, there are cherry blossom trees, just like in Japan. Watching the pale petals blowing in the wind, I always think of the many haiku poems written about them, reminding people of the transience of life both for us and for the blossom. In summer, the cascading waterfall gives a sense of coolness when the air feels too hot to breathe and it’s curiously calming to watch the koi fish splashing in the pond below. In autumn, the fiery reds and oranges of the acer trees come into their own, only to give way to bare branches for winter. Even that is beautiful though in its own way and whenever I go there, I never come away disappointed.
There is peace and quiet for thinking, helping to unravel difficult plot strands, and I often find inspiration for specific scenes here. In the middle of the bustling capital it’s an oasis that feels foreign, and yet familiar. It’s a place where you can’t help but contemplate nature and admire its many guises.
Do you have a place that’s special? Somewhere you go to escape or to think? I’d love to hear about it.