Lloyd Park, Walthamstow

Monday 14 March 2022 – Lloyd Park, Walthamstow.

We’ve been back in the UK from New Zealand for two weeks and I’m not quite yet in a position to say if it is good or bad here. There’s been plenty of good, but crikey it feels really cold after weeks of temperatures in the mid-to-high twenties. We are at staying at Eleanor’s in Walthamstow until mid-April when we will relocate back to my place in St Leonards for a while. We need to see what demands our employers make on us attending our respective London based offices on a regular basis before making any longer term plans. The good news is that there are currently limited demands, though I’m sure this will change over time.

I’m back at work now, mostly working from home though I’ve been into the office a couple of times. The first time I went in I got off the Tube at Green Park and walked through the park and across St James Park towards Victoria, then down to my office on Marsham Street. It was a lovely morning and a walk through the park seemed the right thing to do as I’m about 7kgs over my normal weight so longer morning walks are a good idea. The following time I took my camera.

I enjoyed walking through these two lovely spring-filled parks, but got a genuine heart-pumping thrill once I got back between the buildings, that lovely mix of gorgeous Queen Anne terraces, the brutalism of the Ministry of Justice Building and my favourite building in the area, the old Transport for London offices at 55 Broadway. This is the city I love, and I never get that little heart pump of joy walking in Auckland city.

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When I’m not going into the office I’ve been taking a pre-work morning walk in nearby Lloyd Park; it’s about 200 metres from the front door and is one of my favourite ‘inner-city’ parks. It is more than logical that I walk there most mornings, though I suspect I’ll get bored by it eventually; hopefully not before we move down to my flat. I can barely wait to move, but I have a tenant in there till 1 April so patience is the key. Eleanor and I are taking a day trip this coming Saturday and I will probably do a walk-by of the flat.

Once the grounds of William Morris home, Lloyd Park was donated to the people of Walthamstow by the Lloyd family in 1898. The council buying a further 16 acres from the Aveling Estate in 1912 to create the park as it stands now. The park hosts a range of activities; there is a bowling club, public tennis courts, a small café and gallery, a skate park, outdoor gym and a kid’s playground. None of those things particularly interest me, I just like the park for walking and I’m not the only one. It’s not a huge park, maybe twenty minutes to loop the whole thing, though it has two large fields and is very popular with runners and dog walkers, especially, it seems, in those hours before work.

My first attempt at taking photos was only partially successful, I left the house about 8:00am and the park was quite full with adults taking small children to the schools that surround it. It was very busy and I’m not comfortable taking photos surrounded by people, though I can settle into it when I try. I’d have thought after years of taking photos that this would be second nature for me, but it isn’t. Perhaps I should do a self-confidence course?

The main gate to Lloyd Park is on Forest Road, and was the front entrance to the lovely, what is now, the William Morris Gallery. Morris was a 19 century artist and ardent socialist, his major contribution to the arts was in textiles, particularly with interiors; wallpapers, tapestries, furniture etc. His influence and work is broad and still relevant today and he was a proud Walthamstowvian too.

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I think the socialist in Morris would be pleased to find his old stately home is over the road from ‘Five Star Fish Bar’ (not bad) and ‘Pat Bunz’ (never tried). Much as Walthamstow has been gentrifying over the past few year, that gentrification is yet to hit Forest Road.

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There is a wall that runs to the west from the side of the gallery, separating the grassed front of the garden from a more formal as well as a ‘wild’ (I’m not sure how to describe it) garden at the rear. I absolutely love this wall, it’s one of my favourite bits of the park. It has aged so gracefully and has been stained over the years by the sun, the rain and the vegetation that has grown up against it.

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There are a few of these plants, (possibly a Cardoon?) growing in front of the wall and they are magnificent, some are taller than me, though they grow on quite slender stems. I took a few photos of them over a couple of visits.

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Outside the  rear of the gallery are what is left of the formal gardens. These get planted each season, but are not as resplendent as they used to be according to Eleanor. I guess with more funding there would be more resource to pour into this popular space, though the council has many other worries and much more important things to do with the limited money they have.

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Moving on from the gardens there is a fenced off moat surrounding an ‘island’, which has a band stand at one end that was used for concerts, public speaking and other events. Inside the fence line on the island side of the moat the scrub has been left to go wild and is now mainly a huge tangle brambles; hopefully home to some of the insects and wildlife that use the park.

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I love how this tree has grown over and around the fence.

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My walking route takes me through the centre of the park, past a small café, the large kids play area and a room that has been used as a small independent gallery space, then on to the skate bowl and outdoor gym area.

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I usually turn right here and walk around a large field. The first morning I was there to take photos it was quite busy,  as I said above I didn’t take any, though I enjoyed walk.

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I went much closer to 7 am the second time out and there were far fewer people when I arrived than before, though it got busier with runners after 7:30. 

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I missed the sunrise, but managed to capture some nice early morning light over the trees and houses that surround the fields at the back of the park.

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Completing the loop I finish back at the front of the gallery before wandering off home to see how successful I had been with the photos. I was pretty happy with my efforrts.

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The loop normally takes 20 minutes or so, it’s not huge; but enough to set a clear delineation between sleeping and starting work each week day.

There is a great mural of William Morris painted on the outside of a house next to the park.

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Yay! Snow in the ‘Stow.

Sunday 10 December 2017 – Walthamstow.

A couple of days ago El and I were  visiting Liverpool and it was absolutely freezing, culminating in a small sleet/snow flurry as we were on our way to the station to catch the train back home. London seemed almost tropical by comparison.

El had just gotten up to make tea, I was planning on a decent lie in after a couple of nights of poor sleep, when she called out from downstairs that it was snowing, and it had been settling. I leapt up, looked at the window, and YES. SNOW!

I love snow. Just the fluffy white stuff fresh on the ground, not the grey dirty muddy trampled slush that it turns into once it has stopped falling and humans have traversed it. Living in Auckland for so long and being too lazy/busy to make the trip to the mountains in the centre of the North Island, I hardly ever saw it. This is my fifth winter in London and I have only seen snow once in that time. There was a scant fall last year and in previous years it waited till I was out of the country to pay a visit.

A quick coffee followed getting dressed and we were out the door fairly quickly. I could already see local kids playing in the street, as it was not particularly early we were keen to get to Lloyd Park, near the end of our street, before too many people arrived to mess up that lovely cold white blanket. Wrapping up warmly, as the snow was still falling, I popped the little camera in my pocket and we were out the door. Slipping and sliding down the hill.

The William Morris Gallery sits just inside the entrance to the park and was our first stop. I love this building at the best of times but with snow falling and a big Christmas tree out the front, it looked magnificent today.

As did this nearby tree. I could see we were early enough to find the snow untrampled, and to hear the crunch and squeak of the snow underfoot as we walked round the gallery into the park itself.

I ended up taking a few photos as we walked around the park, though a lot of them were quite smeared and blurred by falling snow. I did not think to bring anything to clean the lens as we walked…

The park was gradually getting busier and busier as time moved on and more and more families arrived with young children in tow. Quite literally in some cases, there were a few plastic sleds on display. Though Lloyd Park could not be any flatter!

This is my favourite photo from the short outing. I Like that the scene is mostly monochromatic from the bare trees and the snow, but human intervention has added a smattering of colour. This is largely unedited by the way.

After completing a full circuit of the park we passed the back of the gallery, and headed for the warmth of home.

It was still snowing a couple of hours later, leaving a good covering on some old garden furniture. I popped my head out the bathroom window and took this photo, which I may well print one day.

I will sneak out again a bit later on in the day…