Hyde Park and Kensington GardensApril 19 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C
What a glorious day! I started out in my nice hotel that boasts a kitchenette and free phone! No, I mean an honest to God Smartphone that I can take with me for navigation, web searches, and to make international calls all gratis! I’ve never heard of that! After my not too bad overnight flight, I took the non-express train (UnderGround) in from the airport. The subway cars are so tiny. I couldn’t really stand in the middle with my bag without bumping into someone’s knees. The system works really well, but I have to say, the schematic transit map they have is less than useless. It doesn’t have any sense of geography and scale. It was like that when I lived in New York - I knew which stops came next but not where they actually were located in relation to one another. Anyhow, I digress.
My hotel sits a couple of convenient blocks north of Hyde Park, so I walked to visit Kensington Palace. The gardens were exquisite. They have 50 gardeners to keep the place magnificent. I took a tour that was entertaining and quite informative on the history of the Stuart and Hanover families who have lived there since the late 1700s. William and Kate and their three children live there now as had Harry and Meghan until just recently. Princess Diana’s hand and fashion were highlighted. While it is a “palace” with all the pomp and tradition that comes with that word, I was not overwhelmed by the public rooms. The oak staircase leading to the Queen’s quarters were beautiful but spoke more of showing off (look how much expensive oak we can waste on a staircase) instead of fine art. Ceilings were painted to look like they were elaborately carved domes but in reality are an optical illusion. Interesting. Few of the furniture or decorative pieces used (or even substituted) were displayed.
But oh, the tiaras. Brazil nut-sized emeralds adorned earrings, necklace and tiara. A spectacular show of wealth and jewelry making. Three displayed in a large glass case jiggled every time someone walked about the room. It is an old house.
Hyde Park feels like New York’s Central Park with strolling locals, their families, joggers, tourists, lovers holding hands, and young people gathering in clumps on the grass. Song birds sang strong and clear doing their best to entertain. I don’t have a bird book (or app) that covers London so I’ve been taking pictures for later identification. The Robin doesn’t much look like an American Robin. I loved the unmanicured look of the fields and trees knowing that it was a deliberate and exacting plan to get it to look this way.
I went in search of the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. What a joyful thing it is! People are encouraged to wade and splash and have fun in the water. It was such a contrast to the formal Kensington Gardens. I loved them both.
Two small spaces, theSpencer Gallery and the Spencer Sackler Gallery, host installations and modern art. Like much of modern art, I can’t say why it moves me when it does or doesn’t. I just know that when I come away feeling that the artist captured a spirit and transmitted that to me - that is the essence of art.
I capped off the day with a delicious Indian restaurant called Dishoom. It is wildly popular and for good reason. I had one lamb chop that was deeply spiced and cooked just right, chicken tikka - no sauce to hide the tandoori flavors, a bowl of green veggies in chili and lime, and their signature black daal dish. I couldn’t finish so I have some for another day, if I don’t continue to eat my way through London.
I made it to nearly 10pm London time. Trying to beat jet lag.Read more