Although I have wandered through Kensington gardens several times this trip, I realized that I had yet to visit the Palace and the Palace Gardens. There was no entrance fee to the gardens so I started there. As you can see from the photo, they are gorgeous. Unfortunately for me the public was restricted to the upper walkway around the edge . There was a plaque indicating that this had been a favorite spot of Princess Diana which set me to wondering how often did she actually get to enjoy the gardens and how unlikely she would have been able to visit them on the south of the moment like I had just done. It would have to have been planned with guards to clear the space and so on.
After rounding the corner I found myself at the beginning of a walkway that was edged with 6 foot high hedges. I was compelled to follow it. At the end I was near to the Orangery. While I debated whether to go in there or to return to the Palace entrance, a helicopter with a royal seal came in to land in the adjacent field.
Folks were running over and lining a railing next to the field, so what could I do but join them. Several cars drove out onto the field and 6 guards on motorcycles covered the area while Princess Anne and hubby, Vice Admiral Laurence loaded there luggage and took off. So nice of them to grant me a view of Royalty for my visit even if she is only 12th in line.
After that excitement, I went ahead and bought my tickets for the Palace and enjoyed several hours of wandering state rooms and the special exhibit of many of Princess Diana’s wardrobe. According to a plaque, when she first met Prince Charles she only had 1 change of clothes and was always borrowing from her friends. She apparently worked closely with a number of designers to develop a style suited to herself and her position.
After leaving the Palace, I realized that the entrance from Kensington gardens is actually the back side, so I walked around to the front side. Not only were there a million “no photo” signs, the fence surrounding the front is covered with a black mesh that cannot be seen through. Huge mansions lined the other side of the street – also with “no photo” signs. These turned out to be more embassies. I followed along the street until I got to the BaysWater entrance where I discovered that the roadway in to that neighborhood was gated and guarded. I felt a tad intimidated but glad I had the chance to view it. Since I was back on Bayswater, I did grab a photo of the gate and guardhouse.
Lunch was definitely in order by this time so I continued walking west and then turned down a likely street and ended up at the Mall Tavern. I gave in to the urge for a burger and beer. The waiter brought me a sampling of 3 beers and once we worked through that process I had a very satisfying meal while I perused my guide book for my next adventures.
My guide book was no help as it contained nothing west of Kensington Park. I did have a map that my hotel had provided me so I opened it up and perused the area North and West of my current location. aha! Portobello Road. Isn’t that where Paddington bear spent his days? I now had a destination. I headed off enjoying the day and my walk turning down streets of interest but keeping my heading north and west. I reached the Portobello without mishap and gazed down the street of antique and tea shops thinking fondly of the Paddington bear stories.
I wandered in and out of little shops feeling a bit bohemian and thoroughly enjoying myself until it was time to leave. At this point my luck ran out. I was sure I was on the correct street going the correct way so I enjoyed my walk and the kids being let out from school when I realized that I had no idea where I was and had not seen a handy corner map in a very long while and no underground stops. I finally found a bus stop with a map and saw it had a stop with a label to change there for the Underground. The bus ride went forever! I eventually found the Underground and had a pretty long ride to get back to my home base but arrive I did with just enough time for a quick wash and back into the city as I had a ticket to see An American in Paris. The musical was wonderful. When I got back to the hotel much later I pulled out my map and realized my mistake on my travels, and oh if only I had boarded that bus on the other side of the street….!