Saturday, February 13, 2016

The green lungs of London - Part 2

Well finally here I am for the next instalment  of the wonderful parks of London. My blogging has come to a standstill due to working more hours (more hours = more travel money!) and being too exhausted in the evening to do anything but collapse in front of the telly.  Ah well,...soon, soon....the smell of freedom is in the air folks!!!  And it smells pretty darn good to me!

Last time I talked about  the royal parks of St James Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

Another park in Central London is Green Park.  This park covers 47 acres between St James Park and Hyde Park.  The park does not have any buildings or lakes like its nearby neighbours and it tends to be a park you walk through to get elsewhere. Or if you are an office worker it's a good place to sit on a warm day and eat your lunch.  Originally the park was supposedly a burial ground for lepers from the nearby St James hospital.  By the 1600's King Charles II had enclosed it and it was known as Upper St James Park.  However due to it being on the outskirts of London (at the time - now it's smack dab in the middle) the area remained desolate and was known as a haunt of highway men and thieves.   It was also a popular place for duels.  I learned all this on Wikipedia...Green Park how I have misjudged you.  Here I thought you were just a boring jealous St James Park wanna be and you were really quite a wild one in your day.

One of the highlights for me is the Canada Memorial designed by Pierre Granche.

Same fountain...different times of the year and different weather!!!

This was taken after VE day.

A particular favourite of mine is Holland Park.  This 54 acre park lies in one of the most prestigious areas of London.  It is only in the last five years that I have spent a significant amount of time there and now it has become one of my "must go to" places during every visit.  The Kyoto gardens area of the park is absolutely stunning no matter what time of year you visit.


Yes peacocks strut around as if they own the place...well maybe they do.

There is also a delightful cafe and an area for sports as well.  I usually go in from the Holland Park area passing this lovely mews...

These were once stables for the houses in front of them (not shown) but have been turned into highly sought after (expensive) houses.

Houses in this area can sell for up to ten million pounds...the extra large ones that is!

Next up we go to a totally different area of London...the east end.  Victoria park opened in 1845 and is known as the People's Park or "Vicky's" park - it is the oldest public park in London.  This is London's most used park by far and a place I have only ventured to very recently.  Back when I first started visiting London tourists just didn't go to the east end...there wasn't anything there for tourists really...or we didn't know about it if there was.  Now there are fantastic markets, street art, museums...the list goes on.  It has become a "trendy" place to live.  I had known about Victoria Park for a few years but first visited it last year while walking along the stretch of the Regents Canal from Hackney after visiting their famous Broadway market.  I ended up here three times last year so you could say I like it.

Victoria Park lake

The current Chinese pagoda above is a replica built in 2010 to replace the original which was demolished back in the 50's due to  serious damage during World War II.  The original was built in 1842 as the entrance to a Chinese exhibit in Hyde Park and moved to Victoria Park when the exhibit ended.

The ornate bridge leading to the island that the pagoda sits on.

There are two replica statues of dogs in the park called The Dogs of Alcibiades.  The originals stood guard over a road into Victoria Park from 1912 until 2009 but were heavily damaged by vandalism.  These replicas replaced them in 2011 as a multimillion-pound refurbishment of Victoria Park for the Olympic Games. (Queen Elizabeth Park is a stones throw away)  The pagoda above was included in this refurbishment.  I guess some good does come from the Olympics sometimes (cynic here)  I am happy that the East end of London is now coming into its own as it's a part of London I truly do enjoy.

I'd say it's time for a brew wouldn't you?  The pavilion cafe is a good place for a hot drink and a pastry...during the week that is...on weekends...well good luck is all I will say - it's packed! It gets rave reviews for its food apparently.  After a walk along the canal from Mile End last Spring I enjoyed a cappuccino (surrounded by yummy mummies and hipsters) in the white railed area shown jutting into the water - spent the time watching a mother coot and her babies.  Very pleasant!  And afterwards you can feed any leftovers (as if!) to the ducks, geese and ever present pigeons that lurk around waiting for a hand out.

Leaving the park let's head out onto the tow path of the Regents Canal...a very popular walking/running/cycling path.  You need eyes in the back of your head on sunny days to avoid the mad cyclists...after all the canal may LOOK pretty but you really don't want a close encounter of the wet kind!

As you can see it is's a pleasant walk along this part of the canal....I enjoyed my walks along the canal...ah..another blog post!  Some parts are lovely like this and others are...let's say interesting....I hope you enjoyed visiting more of London's parks with me.  Next time we will head north to Hampstead Heath and Regents Park.  

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