London: Heart Felt Thanks
and overlooked Nostalgia
Everything that differs from gray seems brighter in London; it is a paintbox of architecture and people, where everyone blends in as the aquarelle on my beloved watercolor palette. You cannot paint still life in London – it is never still – instead it becomes a cubistic or abstract painting with rough, straight, and determined brush strokes.

You press on your pencil, you add blue and gray, and whenever you notice deviations such as flower pots – it becomes a bright accent to the painting. So became bright red curls of the Brazilian girl – or vintage, pastel coloured fashion of my new-found French friend, or roses in the Regent's park.
While London could easily catch me in its Nostalgia roses, it got me in its Heart Felt Thanks instead.

- Excuse me, do you mind if I sit here with my friends? You just look so relaxed that I didn't want to interfere. Do you come here often?
- No, I am in London for a couple of days actually.
- Oh, I come here a lot, I love this park! Also, seeing water always feels good, it is cooling, especially in London – gets quite hot here nowadays.

This spontaneous conversation happened to me when I chose to rest next to the lake in Regent's park; out of it, I caught a great appreciation of nature within this big, crowded and multisensory city. It comes as no surprise: when being a part of these abstract paintings of London streets at the intersections which feel like staying in the middle of Dynamic Suprematism by Malevich, you learn to appreciate the balance coming from spacious parks. Amidst busy London with its skyscrapers, cars, and expensive neat suits, gates are opening to the Regent's park. People find a patch of tranquility in big city life, hiding from its nuisances.

During my visit to London I felt myself a part of the bigger movie – two times I heard the name of Florence and the Machine, suddenly appeared on the street of Sherlock Holmes or in Harry Potter shops. I was spending time in London wandering around National Gallery, taking unexpected turns and diving into art and architecture books, finding my own meanings. These glossy but cold-blooded London streets make jokes; but underneath the apparent pride and arrogance, there is hidden genuine and vulnerable sublimity, a heart which is — still — full of love.
I entered Regent's park and slowed down. I have never been particularly attracted by flowers and rosariums; however, the names written next to them made me wonder about their origin.

Heart Felt Thanks – almost fluffy bright pink roses with the scent of spring and love, they grow intensely in blossoming batches with their strong bonds. This is what gratitude makes to us – interweaves, makes us grow together and stay connected. Our hearts feel gratitude and become a part of this gratefulness chain; the 'heart felt thanks' emotion looks like those roses which smell like spring in the middle of Queen Mary's Gardens.

Nostalgia – dark red petals envelop the softer, light pink pith; the point of the nostalgia – sweet memories hidden in a bitter barn red cover, which, with time passing, tend to unveil the inner core. Within nostalgia, we tend to find ourselves wishing to go back to the world which seems light and enchanting, to the one which repels its dark red shell but leaves the freshness.

Iceberg roses' scent awakens, twitches your nose, and keeps your eyes wide open, while hot chocolate lures you with its silky texture.
I chose a spot on the grass next to the lake and leaned onto my backpack, listening to the sounds. After sharing my observations of how this park feels incredibly serene within London's busy streets, the lady said:

- That's true, and that's interesting about London – same as for New York actually – there are lots of green spaces!

These observations are accurate and are strengthened by evidence: London became the dawn of landscape architecture in itself; the inspiration and an epitome of what a good garden can be, where Regent's park signified a turning point in the whole history of public gardens, connecting us with the name of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.
Commissioned by the Prince Regent and designed by John Nash in 1810-20s, Regent's Park represents the first truly metropolitan public park in a picturesque style. Royal hunting grounds were empowered to be transformed into housing developments. It began as a new royal seat for the Prince Regent and the new palace, surrounded by houses for his court and housing for the upper classes of society connected by a new monumental street – Regent Street. Suddenly, instead of the gentry and royalty, grand villas became occupied by the new industrialist and capitalist bourgeoisie. Regent Street became the main commercial street of London, raising international standards for modern metropolitan living in the mid-19th century. New living quarters were directly connected to Buckingham Palace, the seat of the royal family. John Nash's approach to the Regent's park was the first attempt to integrate monumental boulevards, squares, and parks into urbanistic developments.

The park quickly became admired: already back then it was referred as 'faultless' and 'worthy of one of the capitals of the world', with particular admiration of Nash's treatment of water. Nash was called 'the instructor in his art in the planting of picturesque shrubberies, which provided secluded walks in public parks', certainly needed for such a huge city.

This invention led Regent's Park and Street to become one of the most important destinations for the revolutionary landscape architect (who himself introduced the notion of landscape architecture in our daily vocabulary) – Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. The founder of the history of landscape architecture (especially in America), he traveled to Europe for its inspirational existing parks, strolling through English and French gardens. In the second half of the XIX century, namely in 1857, the project of Central Park, suggested by Olmsted, redefined the definition of industrial cities by introducing the main green structure within the urban fabric, consisting of park designs, parkways, and different transportation systems. That is considered to be a starting point, the birth of landscape architecture as a field which is nowadays a common term in architecture and urbanism.

For the rest of Europe it resulted in other similar parks – for instance, a new development plan for Paris created by Haussmann, where parks began to focus on the city's health problems through improved water and sewage system, improved circulation, and enlarging green spaces. This led to the first big public park in Paris when Napoleon III decided to give the old royal hunting grounds in Boulogne to the citizens – which became the birth of the Bois de Boulogne. Together with the Regent's park, it enhanced Olmsted ideas for redefining the landscape.

Not unexpectedly the lady mentioned water: in an overcrowded city like London, it plays a special role, balancing the effect of the urban heat and improving living conditions. While London already has the privilege of being located on the river Thames, lakes and ponds added to the park facilitate the serenity and create a harmonious public space – spaces that feel like home and nostalgia.

Landscape studies inevitably merge with experience and perception, where a human eye is keen on noticing details that can be pointed out scientifically; art becomes a tool instead of mere self-expression, and feelings become a measuring scale for successful public spaces. That is how without even realizing it the woman was admiring one of the revolutionary parks in the history of landscape for it simply being calm and cooling during these hot summer days.
I loved Regent's park for it being full of roses with bewitching names and beautiful people; my Heart Felt Thanks to the amazement and colorful experience I recently had; to all the people who brought inspiration in those two days I spent in London – and to the gratitude chain I noticed all around me. Whenever I think back to that London trip, it becomes the – yet – overlooked Nostalgia replaced by all other roses, the place where the hostel on top of the pub called Love became a substitute for its straightforward analogy.

Whenever I am struggling to find inner peace with myself, there is one truth I know – if I am walking in London, meeting amazing people – most likely, I am heading in the right direction. If I allow myself to be – to live – to love and watch the world, I am doing my best no matter what it seems at the moment; because wherever we are – we are in the right place and at the right time.

This Hostel slash Pub Love made me meet fascinating people — people who inspired me and who, met by millions of coincidences to happen, guided my beliefs. Let it be the Brazilian girl who made me think of the meaning behind a job and the value of art in my life (also told me about a great Museum of Images of the Unconscious) , or a French lady sharing her favourite English poetry, and simply reminding me that it is through cracks you can see the light – I found out that it is through the tiny gaps in-between infinite universes possible we can navigate and get lost, watching the roses found in the Regent's park.

Made on