Round And Round The Round Pond

The Round Pond in London’s Kensington Gardens has always been one of my favourite places. When I was small my mum used to time me and my sister as we ran round the pond – one clockwise, the other anti-clockwise. In the autumn, after a circuit of the pond, we’d catch lucky leaves as they fell from the Chestnut trees. Catching a leaf before it touches the ground brings good luck for a whole year. Really.

After the run followed by the leaves, there was the ice-cream. I no longer like Fab lollies, or even vanilla cones with a chocolate flake. But I do love this:

Apple Crumble Ice-Cream

The great thing about this is that it makes two puddings – an apple crumble for 6 people, with enough of the crumble left over to make ice-cream for 4

4 large cooking apples

Juice of I orange

1 Teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder

15 tablespoons caster sugar

180g butter

200g plain flour

500ml good quality vanilla ice-cream

Handful of flaked almonds per person

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

Peel, core and slice the apples. Place them in an oven-proof dish, coating them in the juice of the orange. Sprinkle over 1 tablespoon of the sugar as well as the 5 spice powder.

Mix together the butter, flour and the rest of the sugar – either by hand or with a mixer – and tip the crumble mix over the apples. Put the dish in the fridge for at least 15 minutes – longer if you like, it really doesn’t matter. The point is to chill the crumble before it goes into the oven, so that it doesn’t turn into a soupy mess before it gets the chance to cook.

Bake in the oven for around half an hour or until the crumble is brown and crunchy on top, with signs that the apples are bubbling up from underneath. Toast the almonds in a separate dish at the same time and put to one side for eating with the ice-cream.

Eat a lot.

When you can’t eat any more, fold the remaining crumble – make sure there is some – into vanilla ice-cream. Put it back into the freezer for 20 minutes or so and then scoop it into glasses and sprinkle with a handful of the flaked almonds you toasted earlier.

This week the sculptor Anish Kapoor – whose work I love as much as I love the Round Pond – installed his work Sky Mirror, Red, (2007) in the pond. The huge, scarlet, circular steel mirror catches the pond’s myriad reflections that change so dramatically with the weather and the time of day. Kapoor should be allowed to do anything he likes as far as I’m concerned. But while he goes large, I’m going to go quietly, happily small. So here is the Round Pond to keep in your pocket.

I snatched these 64 pictures before Sky Mirror, Red arrived, strolling briskly around the pond’s circumference to catch every angle. Cut each one of these pictures out, moving across the contact sheet from left to right. Keep them in sequence and clip the pages together to make a flick book. Then you too can go round and round the Round Pond to your heart’s content. If you don’t fancy the scissor-work, I’ve made you a slide show – there it is top right – and guess what, you still qualify for the ice cream. You get the year’s worth of good luck too.

I always love to hear your comments, so do stop by and let me know what you think.


  1. Charlie, I love the collage/contact sheet photos. So atmospheric. Really love it. I was supposed to go to a breakfast private view of AK work this morning – couldn't get to London in time. I'm disappointed. Anyway, great post and recipe! Px

  2. Thank you so much Pascale… I'm very pleased you like the flick book experiment. There were lots of puzzled looks as I marched round the pond taking my countless photos…. How disappointing to miss the Private View x

  3. I love the round pond! I used to visit it most weekends when I lived in Shepherds Bush but it's too far now. We used to enjoy a lunch at Stick and Bowl, a chinese fast food place that looks a bit dodgy from outside but does wonderful food and then hop over to the park. I really miss doing that now I'm in Walthamstow!Great idea to make an ice cream with some of this apple crumble, it sounds delicious.

  4. I remember Stick and Bowl – I haven't been for years, but it's still on Ken High Street. Glad you like the Round Pond too. How could anyone not?

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