Forbidden Park Pleasures

Nicholas Quirke was still smarting from celebrating Earth Day inside a Mall and made a point of going to a park that took him almost into the heart of his favourite sight in BeiJing on 24 April 2020. It was an exiting trip that came after a pedestrian morning of collecting a delivery of frozen fruit, messaging with some friends and dealing with some finances. It always made him feel uneasy when he looked at his money and he was anxious that he didn’t end up too much in Peng’s debt and transferred more money into an account to keep up to date. It was an eager man who finally set of after lunch to capture again the spirit of the Emperors. Speeding to the location adjacent to the Forbidden City he felt the sudden change in the temperature, the wind of the past few days had bought a chill to the air that he felt in his bones built today there was a high of 29 and he felt overdressed and a little sweaty by the time he arrived. He had to navigate a cordon of Police to get into the restricted area and though he had his health kit at the ready, ( an app on the phone to prove his health status), his passport, Visa, police residency form and Peng’s letter showing his status, it took a good 10 minutes before he finally breached the barricade. To his amusement as the ID ready locals queued up behind him and were ushered through he heard the police repeatedly saying ‘Ying Gou’ (English) to them. He was the Lao Wei. It was a lovely experience to be back in the area of the City and a very different one from the deserted winter scene he saw at the start of February. The Park he was in housed the Temple the Imperial Family would use on a daily basis and it felt like a privileged and ancient area of peace and calm. Once he again, he was walking through avenues of trees that had stood for more than 500 years and the Knowledge and wisdom these sturdy ancient gnarled barks emanated filed him with awe. The air was perfumed with scent of the vibrant flowers which complimented the swathes of the Imperial red walls of the Palaces and temple. He found an idyllic spot amongst the rock gardens where a beautiful Imperial Ancestral Temple perched on the summit. He had bought a sketch book with him with the purpose of drawing a garden scene. He was struck by the cinematic view from inside the temple. He noticed a couple also drawing the view from the foot of the small hill and they introduced themselves to him as Doris (Dan) and Dong. They were animators and both had produced some really beautiful drawings and watercolours. He was humbled and felt reticent about sharing his poor attempt at capturing the view. Photographs were taken and with a very impressive Video camera Dong took a bit of film which offered a very flattering view of Nicholas and his sketch. They exchanged Instagram addresses wd_ins and lovemissella with each other and he greedily looked at the exquisite drawings this pair of Urbansketchers had collated on their pages. It was a refreshing encounter and He felt thrilled to be included in their group. He did a little more of his sketch before wandering through the rest of the park. He came across another beautiful building and spent some time taking pictures before discovering it was the sacrificial site where the Ox and sheep, pigs, deer and rabbits were slaughtered for the ceremonial purpose. He headed back to the apartment but had to arbitrate his way through another 2 police cordons as he perambulated his way out of Tiananmen and past the CPC Headquaters. It was a quiet evening and the highlight when he Accidentally set his beard trimmer at a shorter length and somehow lost 10 years in the process and it was on that note of hilarity, that he went to bed.


  1. This all feels heady and optimistic Nick. If China’s a few weeks ahead, we may even get to the beach this summer! Missing my swims… X

  2. Lovely day for you, I checked out the drawings on insta, they are fantastic and of course, lovely to see you on there too! xx

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