Friday, 20 July 2012

Royal Parks in the rain

It's Thursday morning in London and the weather continues wet and dull. Eddie and I zoom into town from Ealing on the train to Paddington (a mere 10 minutes), then stroll through elegant streets and mews to reach Kensington Gardens. We intend to walk through four of London's Royal Parks - Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park,  Green Park and St James's Park, passing Buckingham Palace to emerge at Trafalgar Square. Thence up to Piccadilly Circus, up Regent's Street and finally to Oxford Circus, and back to Ealing by tube.

Below: Eddie's umbrella comes in handy more than once as frequent heavy showers rain down on us along our way. Here we are in Hyde Park, the largest of the four Royal Parks on our route, at 142 hectares, almost twice the size of Warsaw's Łazienki Park (which I must say is more splendid in its topography and architecture).
We find that much of the park is closed off for the Olympics, which open next weekend. Eddie and I are forced to take numerous detours from our intended route. We make our way round the southern perimeter of the Serpentine, the snake-shaped pond that divides Hyde Park in two. The picture below, taken from a vantage point above the Serpentine, gives no clue as to the fact that we are standing in the middle of a huge city. Hyde Park's size and layout gives it rural charm.

Below: a royal swan, at its feet a cygnet. There's an enormous amount of bird life in Hyde Park - missing, though, are the peacocks that grace Łazienki Park. Clouds presage another impending shower. In the distance you can see the spectator facilities for the swimming parts of the women's and men's triathlon events that will take place here on 4 and 7 August respectively.

On we go, across Hyde Park Corner (not to be confused, as many do, with Speakers' Corner, which is to the north-east of the park). Across Duke of Wellington Place and we're in Green Park, to see the new RAF Bomber Command Memorial unveiled by the Queen three weeks ago. A stirring monument, one which draws many visitors.

We then passed Buckingham Palace, surrounded by tourists from around the world. The Mall, connecting the  palace to Trafalgar Square, has been fenced off (the underwater ping-pong or something takes place on Horse Guards Parade), so we're forced to go to Parliament Square and up Whitehall to get to where we want to go. Everywhere there are soldiers, replacing the security guards that G4S failed to deliver. The Olympics may be a huge tourist draw, but they are also a major inconvenience to tourists who are here to see the city and not the sporting event.

London is a magnificent city to visit, though I'd not move back to live nor work here, for it is too large, too sprawling, its centre too far from open countryside, its climate too damp. But for Eddie - and I suspect for young people the world over, it exerts a fascinating pull.

This time last year:
Storm clouds over Goclaw, Dolinka under water

This time two years ago:
Round-up of pics from Dobra

This time three years ago:
Conservatism - UK or Polish style?

This time four years ago:
Wheat and development

This time five years ago:
A previous visit to London

No comments: