Thursday, September 13, 2007

London-Hyde Park & Kensington Palace

On Tuesday I decided to go grab some "take-away" and have a picnic in Hyde Park. Luckily for me where i stay this is not even 2 blocks away and Londoners take full advantage of the massive lawns, paths and beauty of this park any day there is a bit of sun. The weather HAS been lovely but it is important to note that 70 degrees Fahrenheit is quite all Londoners need to sunbathe in the park. That is Kensington Palace you can see in the background. Also interesting was the amount of young "footballers" out in the park. They start them quite young over here and I was watching some practice for a while and they can be QUITE good....for 5 year olds!

I continued on to the Serpentine Gallery which had a quite unique installation next to it. You could walk along a path around and around to the top - and inside was a mini amphitheatre which was really a glorified and overpriced coffee and pastry stop for tourists.

Next off I wandered clear to the other end of the park in search of one of my very favorite spots in all of London. The Peter Pan Statue. This may very well be one of the most photographed spots in the park next the the Princess Diana Memorial.

I can't think of very many people out there who don't have a soft spot for Peter Pan - I actually had to wait a bit to be able to photos without other people in it. Ah Peter - to be you and never ever grow up......

I continued meandering all the way up to the Italian Gardens but was disappointed that none of the fountains were on - for reasons unknown so deciding to bypass that I headed back towards Kensington Palace and the Round Pond....aptly named because - well it's a rather large round pond. Masses of people can and do lounge around this body of water on old fashioned typed deck chairs you can rent for 4 hrs for 2 pound. Now, my family and some of my closest friends know of my severe fear of large birds - PARTICULARLY swans, so of course that is the bird the lives on these grounds in massive quantities. I know I know, who could be scared of such beautiful birds right? Well it could be due to the fact that when I was very small (about 5) I was chased by an angry mother swan protecting her nest - or perhaps she was just in a crap mood - whatever the issue I have been avoiding birds any larger then a hummingbird or a canary for the rest of my life. These birds however are so used to humans feeding them they will walk right up to you and try to "share" your lunch. Needless to say I did not choose this as MY picnic spot.

Now having done a rather large full circle consisting of the entire side of the park on the west end of the Serpentine (I large oblong shaped lake that almost cuts the park entirely in half) I found myself back in Kensington Gardens and in front of the palace - when it dawned on me that I had never ever been inside. So - off I went for the "Official Tour" of the Royal State apartments, as well as the tribute to Diana Princess of Wales. It was a lovely 4 hrs in which I learned quite a bit about the life and times of Queen Victoria, the abhor able conditions that seamstresses in that time had to live in in order to create that detailed lace, embroidery and brocade worn by the women and men of court. Some were literally worked to death and investigations had to start to attempt to change working conditions. I wish I could have taken photos of the displays of the fashions of those who "Came to Court" over the past few hundred years until the practice lost its luster back in the 1940's, but alas fabrics are very sensitive to lighting and continual flashes would destroy the delicate nature of the fibers. I did learn that when Whitechapel was the Royal Palace (before the time of Buckingham) - Kensington Palace was a mere 2 miles away but considered practically the countryside - known for it's clear air and rolling green pastures - so it was when the skies of London were so dark with soot it practically rained flakes of it that the royals moved to the "countryside" of Kensington - hence "The Royal Borough of Kensington". Interestingly, this is still a working palace - and has been inhabit ted by members of the Royal Family for several centuries now and was the home to Princess Diana while she was alive. Diana: A Princess Remembered. The tribute to her was very moving - and it is obvious this nation still mourns the loss of " The People's Princess" to this day.

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