Day 20 – Sun 15 May 2005 – A Day in the Park

My last day in the UK. Next week I’ll be home and I’m already in a bit of a ‘wind down’ mode. I’m sad it’s nearly over, yet glad to be going home, though not looking forward to the long flight. At least I’ll have a comfy Premium Economy seat this time.

London parks – nice, but surprisingly ordinary
Have had a bit of a revelation. I’ve noticed the places I like the most are where I’ve felt making connections with people to be the easiest. No doubt an obvious point to ‘normal’ people, it’s actually quite startling for a person who values solitude and independence so much and is about as far from a ‘people person’ as you can get.

That’s pretty, but there’s nothing really varied or interesting going on

Walked the 20 to 30 minutes or so down to Paddington Station at around 0600, then back to the hotel as my early morning exercise for the day. Laid down ‘just for a second’ and snoozed through breakfast time. Not feeling very well after all last night’s food, but walked back to Paddington to help work it off and for a light breakfast around 1100.

So where are the BBQs, the parties, the playgrounds and the ethnic dancing? Bit of a soccer game going on there (Police will probably soon put a stop to that).

Explored Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. They’re interconnected and opposite the hotel. It’s a sunny Sunday and there is an art show all along the wall on the park side of bayswater Road. Some interesting stuff, but fairly unspectacular. The temperature is around 18 C and the park is full of people lounging on deck chairs or on the grass. Guys are typically stripped to the waist to deal with the ‘heat’. The Poms definitely have a seriously warped view of what constitutes a hot day.

Paddle, paddle, paddle…. Come in number 7, your time is up !

Kensington Gardens is flat and outstandingly ordinary. A bit like Centennial Park in Sydney, but just nowhere near as varied or interesting. Just lots of grass, interspersed with trees (that oddly don’t look old or well established) and pathways. There is a lake with ducks and swans. The latter are white and much larger than the Oz black swans and not as agro – I nearly got ‘mugged’ at a park near home once by one of them that thought I was getting to close to its cygnets.

Oooh a squirrel ! – I joined the thousands of Aussies who have made complete fools of themselves by squealing with delight on first seeing a squirrel. Forget kangaroos and koala, to us these are the exotic and ultra-cute animals.

Hyde Park is more interesting but far from impressive. It has more water features and people go paddle-boating on the Serpentine (“Come in number seven, you’re time is up’ style). There are tracks for horse-riding, plus lots of people cycling, skating and walking. (But as usual in the UK, there’s hardly a loo in sight.) I honestly feel that even my local suburban parks would give this place a serious hiding; I’ve never realised until now just how good most Australian cities are at providing excellent recreational spaces.

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