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St James' - my favourite park
St James’s Park is definitely one of my favourite spots in the city. All the London parks provide a welcome green oasis but for me this one has the edge. Perhaps it’s the lovely lake with so many beautiful water birds, or maybe the great views to be had from its bridge. Stand there for a while and look towards Whitehall – the domes and copulas will make you think you are somewhere far more exotic than London! Then turn to look the other way and you’ll see one of the city’s most famous buildings, Buckingham Palace, which in my opinion looks much better from this distance than close up!
This is also a great park for picnics, and for people watching. So linger a while on the benches – or why not follow a great London parks’ tradition and hire a deck-chair? And if you’re looking for refreshments, the park has an excellent restaurant (by reputation – I haven’t been – yet!) and several snack kiosks.
This is the oldest Royal Park in London, surrounded by three palaces: Westminster, the oldest and now the Houses of Parliament, St James's and of course Buckingham Palace. The Park was once a marshy meadow. In 1532 Henry VIII acquired it as a deer park and built the Palace of St James's. The park was redesigned in Charles II’s time, with avenues of trees planted and lawns laid. The King opened the park to the public and was a frequent visitor, feeding the ducks and mingling with his subjects. Later Horse Guards Parade was created by filling in one end of the canal and was used first as a mustering ground and later for parades. The Park changed again when John Nash redesigned it in a more romantic style. The canal was transformed into a natural-looking lake, and in 1837 the Ornithological Society of London presented some birds and had a cottage built for a bird-keeper. You can still see the cottage on the eastern side of the lake, near Horse Guards Parade, and apparently the position of bird-keeper remains to this day too :) Oh, and the famous resident pelicans are fed every day at 2:30pm
Are You Aware???
All over the World, at the dawning of a New Year, we sing the song "Auld Lang Syne" made famous by none other than the Scottish poet Robert Burns. (1759-1796) There are many web sites with information concerning this interesting man of many talents, including the likes of having 12 children, but this is my page about London. If you are interested in Robert Burns, may I suggest the magical keywords: Robert Burns.
Speaking of magical keywords ... Are you aware that every tip created here on Virtual Tourist is searchable with only a few thoughts? Thank you Robert Burns, for aiding me in this magical discovery! You see, I could not remember the name of the place I took this lovely photo, so I began my search ...
After learning about the man himself, by using the keywords: Robert Burns statue London, I learned that it was located on the Thames Embankment. (That could be anywhere in London!) So, my search continued ... Using the keywords: Robert Burns statue Thames Embankment London, I was amazed to find one of my fellow VT'ers just a click away! (Go ahead, try it! By using a few words unique to your description of the tip, you can magically find your page, outside of VT!) Wow! This is exciting! As an example, I tried the keywords: The London Eye two tiny red dots ... Brilliant! I just want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for VT making all this possible!
If you are not yet a member of this wonderful community, you are most welcome to join.
Oh, and the park is lovely. I sat on a bench right next to Burns, ate some take away (from a place I don't recall and not really worth mentioning), deposited my trash in a nearby bin, and continued on my journey to explore London.
- Family Travel
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- Arts and Culture
Victoria Embankment Park
Victoria Embankment Gardens is a nice tiny green lung of Public Park by the Thames. It was created in the late nineteenth century along with the construction of the Embankment.
It exists out of a garden with grass parts on which some you are allowed to sit and others you cannot walk on; a cafeteria with terrace where you can have a drink
In Summer time it houses open-air concerts.
Inside the park you will notice different statues of notable British citizens. One of them is the Scottish poet Robert "Rabbie" Burns 1759 - 1796. A poet with a very turbulent social life, very succesful in writing but also in seducing women and making children `-)
The water gate at the northwest corner, constructed in 1626 as the triumphal entry to the Thames for the Duke of Buckingham, is probably the main historical feature of the garden. This water gate was part of York House that was the home to the Archbishops of York, before becoming the Duke's residence.
The Watergate is still in its original position, but because of the embankment of the Thames, hence the name of the park; it is now 330 feet distance from the edge of the river.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (or 'Kew Gardens')
A friend of mine phoned me last week from Kew Gardens to tell me i must get myself there as the place was stunning! - full swing spring - but i couldnt muster up a visit until today (too much work and travel!!) and sadly the peak had past but the spring flowers do continue but instead of the place being one mass of spring blooms they are now in areas around the park.
A great thing about Kew Gardens are not only the seasonal highlights such as 5 million different bulbs which flower in spring ie snowdrops which are the first flowers to appear in spring, crocuses(2 million bulbs of them!) and daffodils, camellias but also the all year glasshouses such as the Palm house which has has the worlds highest indoor plant, and the Princess of Wales conservatory where you can see 10 climatic zones with plants from orchids to cacti. Ive been to see the amazing orchid and tropical exhibition with over 200,000 plants on display which are on beginning of each year.
Theres also Kew Palace with its own Queens Gardens to see too.
Entrance is a bit expensive at about £13 or like me today a late entry ticket for £6.70, but good value is a season ticket with unlimited visits for £35!! there are reductions if you are a student or over 60 or with a disability. If you enter with a Disabled ticket then you are entitle to have someone come in free with you as a carer.
Kew Gardens is also part of the 2 for 1 scheme with National Rail - 2 people travelling to London with National Rail tickets can obtain a brochure thats usually at all railway stations, fill in a voucher thats in the back and present at the attraction such as Kew Gardens and get entry for 2 for the current one charge of £13.90 - you must have your valid travel tickets with you though and a travel cards on an Oyster card dont count......a very good deal!
2009 PRICES HAVE GONE UP QUITE A BIT ALREADY - DAY TICKET IS NOW £13, LATE ENTRANCE IS £10 AND AN ANNUAL TICKET IS £39. 2011 prices have now gone up to £13.90
- Hiking and Walking
- Arts and Culture
- Family Travel
Green Park Canadian War Memorial I
This striking monument, dedicated to the 1 million Canadians who served in WWI and II and the 110,000 who lost their lives is situated by Canada Gate and close to Buckingham Palace in Green Park. The gently sloping, dark granite and bronze monument, which forms an arrow pointing from Halifax to London, is washed with a constant flow of water under which hundreds of green maple leaves are inlaid. The monument was created by Pierre Granche in 1992.
Update March 2014: extra photo, minor corrections to text
This is another of my favourite London parks, and it’s particularly nice for a Sunday afternoon stroll, when these photos were taken. A lot of families come out to enjoy the open spaces, even in winter, especially when the sun shines. Some paths are designated for use by cyclists, skateboarders etc, while others can only be enjoyed on foot. There are wide expanses of grass for ball games, and even a special area for horse riding.
Some of the particular features and sights here are;
The Round Pond – popular with model boat owners and a great place to spot various water-birds
The Serpentine Lake or Long Water – another place for water-birds but also used for boating and, in summer, swimming (access for these sports is via neighbouring Hyde Park – most people can’t see the join between the two parks however!) On Christmas Day, members of the Serpentine Swimming Club traditionally have a race in its very chilly waters.
Statue of Peter Pan – on the west side of the Serpentine, this is a must-see for fans of the book. Peter stands on a small mound covered with climbing squirrels, rabbits and mice.
Albert Memorial – on the south side of the park is this elaborate monument erected by Queen Victoria in memory of her late husband, Prince Albert. It was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and was opened in 1872. It contains a statue of Albert ceremonially "seated" beneath an ornate canopy. See separate tip for more info.
Diana, Princess of Wales' Memorial Playground – an adventure playground aimed at children under 12.
The Serpentine Gallery – an art gallery in the centre of the park – again, see separate tip.
Kensington Palace – dating from the 17th century, this has been home to some of Britain's most famous kings and queens, and more recently to Diana, Princess of Wales (see the Kensington Palace website for more info)
Various events take place in the park, including a series of guided walks (see the website below for details). In the summer, deck chairs can be hired, or bring a blanket and a picnic, and relax in the company of many Londoners doing just the same!
The park is open from 6am to dusk all year round.
London's Beautiful Parks and Lovely Gardens
PLEASE CLICK TO SEE THE STATUE
Since I was in London at the end of December and the beginning of January, the parks and gardens were not at the top of my list to visit. The weather was, however, quite mild (I only wore a light jacket!)
I knew that London had one of the world's greenest city centers, so I made it a point to keep my eyes open. What I saw was lots of tree-filled squares, plenty of expanses of grass, and several parks.
The Park that I saw the most of was Regent's Park with the lake for boating, the London zoo, and an open-air theathre.
Also, I saw St. James Park with its reserve for wildfowl.
We saw, of course, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. The park is a rallying place for political demonstrations. There's also the famed Speaker's Corner in the northeast where anyone can speak his/her mind.
The former grounds of Kensington Palace is next to Hyde Park and is now called Kensington Gardens. What I loved most about the gardens was the bronze statue of the fictional Peter Pan.
JM Barrie ( author of Peter Pan) often walked in Kensington Gardens, and he was accompanied by his Newfoundland dog named Luath (the inspiration for "Nana, the dog in Peter Pan). This bronze statue was done by Sir George Frampton and is ever so charming.
Unfortunately, I had no opportunity to visit Kew Gardens (botanic gardens).
I imagine that the spring and fall are the two best times to enjoy the parks and gardens in London; however, I think any time one visits, he/she should try to see them.
- Family Travel
Greenwich Park is one of the wonderful parks in London. But Greenwich is special with its wide views over the maritime heart of the capital and its great sense of history. A big open space for enjoying the views! Great place for to spend your free day or an afternoon.
- Family Travel
- Adventure Travel
Holland Park - The Kyoto garden.
Now this is a beautiful part of Holland Park - The Kyoto garden. When I visited it a bridal photo session was taking place at the Kyoto garden, making my experience there even more lovely. There is no denying it, Japanes gardens are exquisite. And I am a big fan of the Japanese culture. The Kyoto garden is in the Japanese "tour garden" style. Kyoto was the capital of the country for thousand years and they are specialists in making beautiful gardens.
The Kyoto garden was designed to celebrate the Japan Festival in London in 1991, celebrating the centenary of The Japan Society in Britain. It is the project of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan and was donated to London as a token of the long lasting friendship between the nations. It was opened in September 1991 by Prince Charles and by the Crown Prince of Japan.
The garden is fenched off in Holland Park, as there are a lot of peacocks in there - and I mean a lot, it came as a surprise to me how many they were and how nonchalant they were about the presence of people there.
The garden is so serene, it must be a haven for just sitting down and enjoying absolute beauty and to calm the mind. In the pond are a lot of koi-fish and a serene stork was standing on a rock by the waterfall the whole time I was visiting, not moving at all.
There are such lovely stone lanterns in the Kyoto garden and one big one on the lake, which I guess must be distinctive for the garden.
Highly recommended - by me ;)
St James' Park
St James' has always been my most favourite of the Royal Parks. It was the nearest to where I worked and was where my colleagues and I would often eat our lunch surrounded by the lush greenery and tranquil lakes full of water birds including pelicans!
It's also a nice place for a VT meeting in the summer as there is now the "Inn the Park" terrace restaurant for a refreshing cup of tea (but no Coke - only expensive fruit juices!). A soft drink and a sandwich comes to about £6.
Flanked by The Mall on one side and Birdcage Walk on the other, St James is very central, a short walk from Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace.
The park is open 5am-midnight throughout the year.
Follow the "Diana Memorial Walk" plaques, inlaid in the paths, for a circular walk around the park.
- Travel with Pets
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London's Royal Parks
London must be one of the greenest cities in the world, if not the greenest! If you have to be in the city on a warm spring or summer day, then it's the nicest place to be.
The Royal Parks are beautifully maintained, and on sunny days you will find tourists and Londoners chilled and relaxed, or cycling or skating or just sitting in a deck chair eating icecream and soaking up the sun!
Hyde Park also has the Serptentine where it's possible to hire boats for a lovely lazy paddle about. All the parks have places to get refreshments (a little expensive but this is central London). The flower beds change according to the season but in Spring they are particularly colourful with all the daffs and tulips around!
In some of the parks cycling and skating is prohibited and there are plenty of Park Officials and police around to make sure this is enforced!
It is also possible to hire deck chairs - £1.50 for 2 hours.
Check the website for loads of history and info about London's Royal Parks.
- National/State Park
Up on Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill is London's highest natural view point (and is actually one of 6 "protected" vantage points in the capital). It is right by Regents Park, with Regent's Canal running in between. I was told that it's a great place for toboganning in the winter too!
It is very popular with families, dogs and anyone with who might be a bit "worse for wear" who is looking for a quiet shady place to lie down on the cool grass and recover from the excesses of the night before - like we were :)) There is an icecream van and a tea/coffee/muffin van thingy in the park too
The Ueber-trendy Primrose Hill is a fabulous place for people watching too - lots of well known TV, music, film etc personalities live in the area and are easily spotted! (But let them sip their lattes in peace!)
We arrived and found a lovely little cafe and a table on the sunny pavement and ordered coffee and toast. I tried asking the East European waitress for a Bagel but it was too taxing on her limited English - This is how the conversation went:
"Have you got bagels?" I asked innocently, thinking this wasn't an unreasonable request
"Bakel? Bakel?"... she frowned and repeated the word bakel
"Nooo", I said.. "a bagel... a bread roll with a hole in it??"
She shook her head... and walked away...
And came back a moment later....
"Ahhhh!!!! BAKEL!!! !! CREEEEESPY BAKEL!!??!??!" she shrieked, delighted to have at last apparently comprehended my request...
"No... not "crispy bacon"... I muttered despondently.. "just coffee".
Oh and bring plenty of money - this is one of the most expensive areas in London to have a coffee and no bagel.
- Luxury Travel
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If you're somewhere around at the south-eastern part of London, somewhere between Lewisham or Catford or in Hither Green, visit Mountsfield park. It's a calm place for the rest or sunbaths at a good weather, also has a playground for childrens (I've tried it also, just for fun:D) and two tennis courts for to play free.
- National/State Park
- Family Travel
Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground
In Hyde Park, close to Kensington Gardens, there is a great playground in the theme of Peter Pan. There is an Indian Village, Pirate Ship, and mermaid fountain! Great place for kids to run off extra energy. There is a cafe next to it.....offering parents a resbit from a hectic day of sightseeing.You can also use it to bribe them if they are getting bored walking the gardens! If you are staying in the Bayswater or Notting Hill area, this is a great place to unwind!
- Family Travel
I love the parks in London, especially Kensington Gardens.Being able to go jogging there in early morning is one of the biggest advantages of staying in Bayswater. It's a busy park, with many people walking, dogs running, children playing and squirrels hoping to get a few nuts.You can also go and feed the ducks and swans at the lake there.My favourite time there is late spring, when all the flowers are in bloom.
When my children were small, they loved the playground with Peter Pan and the elves tree.
It is a very nice walk from Bayswater Road through Kensington Gardens to Kensington. Even the museums in South Kensington are not too far to walk to.
I often took a book and a picnic lunch and enjoyed a nice afternoon in the park. That's something which many tourists miss when they rush from one museum to the next. But then , I'm lucky, as I've been able to go to London very often and don't have to cram everything into one trip.
- Family Travel
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