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Saturday, 11 June 2016

Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park


Jean and I spent a lot of time in London in the 80s, but today we did something we've never done before.  We hired bikes and rode round Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park.  Bike stations were installed all over London some years ago, an initiative of the former London Lord Mayor, Boris.
We hired the bikes near Speakers Corner, rode west along the north of the park and soon realised the road was being dug up.  So, we left the park, and rode along Bayswater Road, soon re-entering the park at the wide pathway that runs north-south between Kensington Palace and the Round Pond.  We had intended to criss-cross Hyde Park and Ken Gardens but realised a great deal of paths are no-go areas for bikes.  I was annoyed; I only wanted the bike so I could ride wherever I liked all over the two parks.  
We rode the bikes around to the road at the back of Kensington Palace, which, back in the 80s, we used to call 'Millionaires Row'.  I understand it's now called 'Billionaires Row', which sounds right if you allow for inflation.  The whole time in that area, I thought of a colleague who lived in the road for 12 months until earlier this year.
As we haven't had a decent tour of the Park and Gardens for years, we ditched the bikes and walked.  There is much that seems to have changed over the last 30 years.  The trees seem larger.  From the parks, the skyline seems different.  For example, you can hardly see the Post Office Tower these days.
The sculpture in the distance was always a common sight.  I learned it was taken away in the 90s because it was deemed structurally unsound.  It returned only a few years ago.

We got a little rain during the day, but nothing major.
We learned that today was the World Naked Bike Ride, which is an international protest against oil dependency, in which participants may appear in various states of undress.  I wasn't pleased to see this old bloke totally starkers.
Every year, architects design and build temporary structures to show off their talents.  Here, at the western edge of Ken Gardens, this structure is a cafe.  
The above is the Princess Diana Memorial - a pleasant stream with cool, running water which amuses visitors especially in the summer.  Of course, it didn't exist in the 80s.  Princess Diana died in 1997.
Another object that wasn't around in our day.  This is the 'ISIS Sculpture' - inspired by the ancient Egyptian goddess of nature and motherhood.  It has apparently helped inspire thousands of people to contribute towards the creation of the ISIS Education Centre in Hyde Park.  It has everything to do with the natural world, and, you guessed it, nothing to do with any terrorist group.

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