Monday, 23 June 2008

Picture Perfect Park

The weather in London is still somewhat changeable at the moment but, generally, this is a lovely time of year to visit the city. There are many more green areas than you would imagine in London with tree lined roads and beautiful, vast stretches of parkland.

When I lived in London I was fortunate to be only a short walk away from Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. I didn’t make the most of the Royal Parks but on a sunny weekend it was a lovely place to escape to. Even surrounded by groups playing ball games and families enjoying the open space with relish, Hyde Park had a serenity which belied its location in central London. For a while I also worked close to Buckingham Palace and would, occasionally, take a stroll through St James’s Park on my way home.

Last week, I revisited St James’s Park briefly and joined the clusters of tourists and workers eating their lunch in the sunshine. It was a lovely half hour sitting near the lake, only disturbed by a couple of squirrels (pictured right) who fancied sharing my lunch! Birdkeepers Cottage (also known as Duck Island Cottage) is a quaint feature of the area with a wonderful garden of wild flowers. Having been home to a number of bird keepers at St. James’s Park since the early 19th Century, this picturesque cottage is now the office of the London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust.

The lake is famed for its wide range of birdlife. Strangely, when I looked around I did not see anything as mundane as a duck (!) but I got dangerously close to a swan who was, thankfully, preoccupied with his/her cleaning regime! Across the other side of the lake I caught sight of the exotic pelicans that are fed fresh fish at 2.30pm every day.

London is an incredibly bustling city which never appears to stand still but, after a fleeting pit stop in St James’s Park, I felt refreshed and ready to fight through the crowds surrounding the Houses of Parliament! Making my way towards the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, I came face to face with a couple of army tanks heading to Horse Guards Parade. Ordinarily, I would have been too flustered to take a photo but the calming effect of lunch in the park turned me into Miss Methodical and I managed a couple of snaps to contrast with the tranquil wildlife shots.

London is a wonderfully diverse city and the Royal Parks are significant contributors to the multiplicity. If you are visiting London, live or work there, then take a little time to enjoy one of the parks and put the calm back into your day.

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