It’s all about the Parks

If you wake up in London and the sky is blue, there is only one thing to do … head for the park(s).  Fortunately my hotel just happens to be close to the Lancaster Gate of Kensington Park. What a treat for me. I entered the gate which is next to the Italian Gardens and strolled along the NE side of the Serpentine. Much of the area next to the water has been left wild to provide nesting grounds for the ducks and other fowls. I saw a swan on her nest but as soon as focused my camera, she tucked her head under her wing. Lucky me I found another a ways down that was not as shy.

It was definitely a bird watchers paradise. This little fellow was so not shy that as soon as the camera clicked he flew right into my face.

When my stroll along the Serpentine reached a bridge and a map, I discovered that the famous statue of Peter Pan was on the other side of the water. I looped around and strolled around enjoying the greenery and the birds. I even saw green parrots ?! I eventually wended my way to the statue.

It’s quite a nice statue and well worth walking around as there is more to see on the base in the back. I admired it from all sides before approaching the water again and watching the ducks.  When it was time to move on I chose to spend some time in the adjacent Hyde Park and set out on a path that appeared to traverse the park in a diagonal. The middle appears to be barely used at least during a weekday in early May. The paths are well maintained but the grassy areas are left with a natural look.

When I got closer to the edges of the park, everything had a more manicured appearance and there were more people, playing fields and even an ice cream truck … a converted Rolls Royce Phantom!

Now, I know that both Wellington and Achilles were war heroes but I was surprised to see a statue of Achilles as a monument to Wellington but then again why not – they were both war heroes.

A stop at the oldest Hard Rock cafe for lunch was next … grilled chicken & arugula salad with some good music on the side hit the spot before resuming my journey through London’s parks.

Now I thought Achilles to honor Wellington odd, but this one of a naked man with a sword to commemorate the machine gun corps of WW I seems even odder.

Green Park is lovely and there are quite a few memorials including another memorial to Wellington – this time a statue of him on his horse. After Green Park, I walked through St James Park. Isn’t this a peaceful scene?

And who doesn’t love baby ducks?

After St James, I ran out of what had essentially been contiguous parks. Instead I found myself facing the Horse Guards parade grounds. Nothing was happening there at that time so I crossed over and went through an arch to be held up by a review. The guard on the right was inspecting the guards on the left. 

When the inspection was complete the policeman let us cross the square. I was relatively close to the Thames by this time and headed that way. Before I reached the river, I discovered that I had blundered into Whitehall which is a street but also a generalized name for the center of government. Since this was “park day”, I was delighted to find a small Whitehall Park.

I continued on along the river until I reached an area called the Victoria Embankment which also had a park which I seem to have failed to photograph. I did stop at the parks cafe and enjoy a cup of coffee while I sat and watched the world go by.

it was time then to cross the river. I crossed using the Golden Jubilee footbridge. I enjoyed a leisurely stroll (as I had been doing all day). I listened to street performers and watched the river cruise ships out on the Thames. 

Surprisingly I discovered it was time to dine if I wanted to eat before going to the play at the Globe. The Swan restaurant is adjacent to the Globe so I joined the throng and asked for a place to sit. It was packed, so they put me at a table for 4, where a couple was already seated. Normally I enjoy this arrangement but not this time … the woman was calling off her wedding to the man sitting across from her! I just kept my head down and tried not to listen. They left before my food was delivered and the next couple were celebrating a birthday and I felt easier.

Then it was time for the show! The Globe has 3 areas to watch the play. The “groundlings” stand in the pit and hope it doesnt’ rain … see picture below

The lower gallery, where I was, has long backless benches with seat numbers on them. It is customary to rent cushions for these seats. I also rented a seat back …. sort of a wooden stadium seat and put my cushion on that. Fortunately, the lower gallery is covered by the upper gallery so I didn’t have to worry about rain.  As you can see from the photo, my seat had a good view of the stage. The play was Nell Gwynn. The play is based on the life of the real Nell Gwynn who was an actress and the mistress of King Charles II. It is a lighthearted play and was very well done  and it did not rain!

Before the journey back to my hotel, I got this final photo for the day from area in front of the Globe looking across the river to St Paul’s.

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