An Afternoon in the Parks

July 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm Leave a comment

The other students in my group had been spending a lot of time in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, since our hotel was just a couple of blocks from the entrance at Lancaster Gate, but over a week into the trip, I hadn’t made it there yet. After my walk through South Kensington and Knightsbridge, I was pretty tired, but the day just kept getting prettier, so I decided to hop on the Tube and head for the parks.

Marble Arch
I popped out of the Tube at Marble Arch, across from the northeast corner of Hyde Park. While on the Tube, I noticed that more than a few people were wearing Bon Jovi tee-shirts. I like belting out “Living on a Prayer” as much as the next girl, but I was finding London’s apparent fascination with Bon Jovi a little odd. When I was approached by five ticket scalpers at the exit for the Tube, I put the pieces together. Bon Jovi concert in Hyde Park. Which also accounted for the huge crowds heading into the park. But I didn’t want to put off my visit of the park, since I was already there, so I joined the crowds and headed across the street.

Rose Garden
It took a while, but once I finally made it past the area that was partitioned off for the concert, the crowds disappeared, and it was a lovely day in the park. I visited the Rose Garden near the southeast corner first. I felt like it wasn’t in full bloom, although I admit that I don’t know when the height of rose season is.

The Serpentine is a serpentine-shaped lake that dominates Hyde Park’s landscape. A few cafés are located on its fringes, along with boathouses and beachy areas.

Swan Friend!
The animals of the Serpentine are not at all shy! I knelt down to get photos of the swans, and since I was using a wide angle lens, I didn’t realize that this guy had swum to within a foot of my lens until I put my camera down. Thanks for volunteering for a close-up!

Duck Friends
My duck friends were even more aggressive. They hopped right out of the water and wandered among the people huddled at the water’s edge. I was half-expecting this guy to speak up and ask me for food. He didn’t, but he did almost walk right over my foot. I wonder if it hurts when a duck steps on your foot.

Princess Di Memorial
I had walked around the south side of the Serpentine because I wanted to see the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. The memorial is interactive and vibrant. It’s a circular trough of water on a slice of lawn, and the water is sent rushing around the trough. Signs indicate that it’s meant to be enjoyed, so kids without shoes (and sometimes clothes) run through the water with shrieks of delight. I’m going to go on record and say that it’s the loudest memorial I’ve ever seen, but also one of the most memorable.

I was pretty tired after that, and since there were a huge shortage of benches in Hyde Park, I was wishing that I’d brought something to sit on. Not that I’d carted a picnic blanket to London with me, though. So I kept plodding along, thinking that I’d walk the rest of the Serpentine, cross over into Kensington Gardens, and then start heading north towards Lancaster Gate. It was a longer walk than I thought it would be, though, so I just plopped down on the grass in Kensington Gardens.

Kensington Gardens
Not a bad view in this part of the park, although I did notice that it had been a while since Kensington Gardens had been mowed. I had a seat in the grass and people-watched while I tried to catch up on my trip journal.

Kensington Gardens
Lancaster Gate is one of the prettiest parts of the park…of what I saw, at least. The sun was in an awkward place for trying to get the whole scene exposed evenly, so I tried some auto-bracketed exposures to convert to HDR later. This one was my favourite.

Overall, I had a nice time in the parks, but as far as urban parks go, I was expecting a little more from such a royal city! I don’t, I think I was expecting more flowers and landscaping. I’m not sure my visit was fair, since so much of Hyde Park was blocked off for Bon Jovi, but my impression was that it was a huge piece of greenery, but it’s all kind of the same. I liked it, but I didn’t find it nearly as pretty as my three favourite urban parks: Stanley (Vancouver), Millenium (Chicago), and Central (New York).


Entry filed under: England, Europe, London, United Kingdom.

A Stroll through South Kensington and Knightsbridge Market Sunday

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A serial road tripper chronicles her adventures.


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