The first time I visited the Barbican - it was on a sleety day in March, with my friend Tam to see an exhibition. I had seen pictures, and knew I would enjoy the architecture, the feel of the place, but didn't realise quite how much I would love it. I love the shapes, the styles, the plants and the water mixed with the harsh grey brick everywhere.
At one point, I discovered that there was a conservatory there, and made it my mission to find it and visit it: a simple task, you might say. It only opens on Sunday's, and until very the end of 2014, I worked most Sundays. I think I made three attempts at visiting it, even getting as far as Waterloo once, before having to turn back.
For my thoughts on the conservatory, keep reading..
In May this year (I've been a bit lax with posting these, clearly) - I finally got the chance on a bank holiday (when it also opens). It was cool, bright day in the city, and I finally had the time to wander around. It's not very well signposted, and it's oddly looked after, inside. Small bits of it all well cared for and tended, there are shelves of new saplings, carefully grown in pots and looked for. Other parts of the conservatory are run-down, a bit shabby, overgrown and wild. Through the large windows there are glimpses of the infamous tower blocks can be seen, through the veils of overhanging greenery.
This is no carefully curated, glossy and shiny greenhouse like that of Wisley, nor does it have the Victorian splendour of the glasshouses at Kew, it is something distinctly other, and I enjoyed it very much. Be sure not to miss the fish pond, or the small temperate room on the first floor.
I would also highly recommend taking in an exhibition at the Barbican, or even just wandering around the place, stopped for a coffee in it's cafe, and taking a stroll along along the raised walkways, looking at the private squares for residents, and dreaming of luxury high-rise apartments, you can never afford. At least, this is what I do when I go there...
For the opening hours, you can check the Barbican website: we walked from Waterloo as it was such a nice day, but it's quite easy to walk there from St. Paul's or the Barbican tube stations.