I wake up. It is still dark outside, but it’s never really dark in my London bedroom, with its double windows surrounding the space. Rolling over, I see that the cat has jumped onto my chair and I mumble at her incoherently: ‘smychairgeroff.
She stays, and I throw my notebook at her. The cat and I generally coexist with a series of peaceful understandings, but sometimes she has to be reminded of the limits of her territory, and this morning is one of those times.
I realise that I’m fully awake – the kind of awake that comes from getting just enough sleep: not too little, not too much. A Goldilocks night.
I reach out and prod my phone to light up the screen. 5am. I am filled with energy and consider going to the gym. In any case, it seems silly to go back to sleep, and so I roll out of bed and pull aside the curtain that serves as a door into the hallway.
I don’t go to the gym.
Instead I make a pot of coffee and curl up in my armchair with a book, anticipating the sunrise travelling across the bay window, casting rays of gold through the room.
An hour later a craving is niggling at me. I try to place it: waffles? beans on toast? No. A muffin! That’s it! With eggs royale. I could go to the shop when it opens and pick up the ingredients.
I settle back into the chair, but my mind is niggling at me again and I stop to listen.
The sunrise would be so pretty in Hyde Park, it says, and it will be so quiet early on a Sunday morning. My phone, a quick Google: The Breakfast Club Soho does eggs royale, and between me and it: Hyde Park.
I dress quickly and set off. I don’t want to miss the sunrise.
It’s amazing how fast the sounds of the road fall away once I’m through the park gate, drowned out by the birds who sing and scream, heralding the dawn.
The trees keep the path dark but the space above them is gradually lightening, and their branches appear like cracks across the sky.
I was right: I am blissfully alone. I feel like the only walker in the world as I traverse the shady paths. Some aren’t open yet, the criss-crossed maze of gates and railings yet to be unlocked by the caretakers who will be along soon in their yellow jackets.
It is a quiet sort of dawn: blue-grey and gradual, rather than rending hot pink scars across the horizon. Less dramatic, more contemplative. It suits my mood.
Ah, the Serpentine.
The shrill tunes of the songbirds recede and make way for the harsher cacophony of the waterfowl.
In the lido a solitary swimmer slides through the water. Further on down the path, a raggedy man feeds a gaggle of enthusiastic Canada geese. I want to say hello, but it would feel like a disturbance of the peace; an imposition into his morning ritual. I leave them be.
The Narnia lamps are flicking off now, their dramatic uplighting making way for a softer kind of illumination, from a sun I cannot see.
I pass more geese, a black swan, and a coot, all puffed up and making little clicking noises. I stretch out on a bench beside the river and begin to write.
As the morning progresses I am joined on the paths by other early risers: dog walkers, joggers, park rangers. A woman cuts across the grass, and she runs like a deer: graceful, poised, springing from step to step with an easy elegance.
The road diverges into five paths, and since none of them appears to be the least travelled, I pick one at random and wander on. I zigzag back and forth through the park, unwilling as yet to rescind my grip on the peaceful break of morning and join the increasing roar along the main road.
Eventually, however, the thought of breakfast entices me through a gate and down a grey street towards Oxford Circus. On my way out of the park I pass a solitary raven crowing at the ground.