Novel Park

Nicholas Quirke was intrigued to learn of a park that he had not visited based on a famous classical Chinese Novel ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, on 26 May 2020 and delighted to discover that he could go there without pre booking, which meant that he was back to his parking tricks again. It was another sun drenched day and being out on a bike and in the blue skies was demanded. Grand View Garden, Daguanyuan, is a recreation of fictional gardens and homes and represents Qing Dynasty architecture. It was built as the film locations for a TV series, ‘Dream of the Red Mansion’ (its name seems to translate in a variety of ways) in 1987. Its artificial features and natural scenery have been blended together and create a harmonious whole. Aside from the beautiful gardens, water and rock features, you are able to explore China’s heritage through visiting the characters homes. Nicholas had not read the novel or seen the TV series, so the import of the spaces he was looking at, ‘The House Of Reunion”, Alpinia Park’, ‘The harbour of Seeping Fragrance’ , ‘The Bamboo Lodge’, ‘ The Studio of Autumn Freshness’, ‘Happy Red Court’ and the homes of their owners Lin Tai-yu, Si Hsiang-Yun, Hsueh Pao-chai, Chia Pao-yu, Li Wan, meant nothing to him but being able to appreciate the exquisite recreations was really a trip back in place and history And get the sense and feel of what it was to be in the Qing Dynasty. As with many of the public spaces he visited there were visitors who had come and practised their craft or hobby; ‘Auld Lang Syne on a mouth organ and as he made his way through ‘The Green Lattice Nunnery’ he followed the strains of a violin that led him to a quiet corner where an old man was teasing a melancholy strain out of the instrument. He was the only Lao Wei and as always, when he was on his own, he was spoken to by a couple of people eager to practise thier English. There had to be a way, he thought, of utilising the individuality of his situation here in Beijing and get paid for conversing with locals keen to learn English. It took him nearly 3 hours to cover the 27 acres and exhausted he made his way back home, though on sighting a closed temple and large Spirit Screen, he did stop and take photographs. He was a hoping to get to a city temple but these were still closed and will probably, along with theatres be the last public spaces to open. He prepared supper did some more work on the video he was making and had a long and needed video chat with his sister. It was good to hear that there was a slow improvement to the lockdown, which was how China had progressed but he was filled with dread about the state of theatre in the world and feared for the future of many of the establishments he frequented in his homeland. He once again longed to sit in the dark of a Theatre or cinema and lose himself in the stories and words these spun. It was a melancholy end to the evening and thinking about the future in the new world meant a slow journey for him into slumber.


  1. Hi Mel, Not to worry. I assume you have now read my suggested plan. Please email me back to say when you will phone. Any time today will suit me – morning, afternoon or evening, apart from the NHS clapping time! And do please give me your phone number, just in case! Speak soon Linda x

    Sent from my iPad


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