September 23, 2011 11:18
| Arts and Culture
Karen Inglis is the author of The Secret Lake, a children’s book inspired by Notting Hill’s Communal Garden Squares. Karen talks about the Notting Hill inspiration for her new children’s book.
When I lived in Notting Hill many years ago, twice a week I used to walk down to the Kensington New Pools for a swim from my first floor flat in Talbot Road near Northumberland Place. On my way back I would often divert my route home along Elgin Crescent to see if I could catch a glimpse of the magical gardens that lay beyond. Occasionally I might see a silhouette of a child run past a back window - or hear voices carried on the wind. But I never got to go in.
Some years later my future husband and I looked at a two-bedroom ground floor apartment backing onto those same gardens behind Elgin Crescent.
I still the recall sense of anticipation when we went to look around - the yearning to connect with that magical existence in some way - but, alas, it wasn’t to be… Pragmatism kicked in for a young couple on a tight budget and reluctantly (and to some of our friends’ downright horror!) we headed south across the river to get more bang for our buck...
It was several years later still - and by now with two children in tow - that I was more than a little excited to hear that some good friends had bought one of the split level lower ground/raised ground floor apartments backing on to communal gardens not far from Notting Hill.
The first time we visited I remember my heart skipping a beat as we emerged into the gardens at the back where we found the children roaming freely, in worlds of their own making. The echo of twigs cracking underfoot, and of children’s voices as they hid in secret bushes beyond clumps of distant trees, stays with me to this day. So, too, do the tales of a rather grumpy gardener who used to confiscate the children’s bikes if they left them out on the lawns at night!
It was there in those gardens that the seeds of the idea for ‘The Secret Lake
’ were sown… What, I wondered, would it be like if the children from the present day gardens were able to meet the children who had played there 100 years earlier?
In the first part of two posts, here is a preview of The Secret Lake.
The Secret Lake: Preview
When Stella and her younger brother, Tom, move to their new London home, they become mystified by the disappearances of Harry, their elderly neighbour’s small dog. Where does he go? And why does he keep reappearing wet-through?
Their quest to solve the riddle over the summer holidays leads to a boat buried under a grassy mound – and a tunnel that takes them to a secret lake. Who is the boy rowing towards them who looks so terrified? And whose are those children’s voices carried on the wind from beyond the woods?
Stella and Tom soon discover that they have travelled back in time to their home and its communal gardens almost 100 years earlier. Here they make both friends and enemies, and soon find themselves in deeper trouble than they ever could have imagined…
Karen Inglis is the author of The Secret Lake, a children’s book inspired by Notting Hill’s Communal Garden Squares. You can find signed copies in Waterstones, Notting Hill and buy on Amazon.
A preview of Chapter one follows next week.