Sunday, July 5, 2009

Hyde Park I

15th Feb 2009

Grrrrrr, glurk, crunch, tick tick tick.
That's the sound of a blog seizing up under its own weight. With some carefully applied deblocker, it slowly swings back into action with another action packed (not really) interesting (yes, a bit) post. Here we go...

Hyde Park. Is. Big. Hyde Park is in the middle of London and is one of the biggest areas of green space in the central area and used to be the private hunting ground of Henry VIII and in 1851 the Crystal Palace exhibition took place here.

A pretty wee map - clickie for bigger view

While there are other large expanses of green in London such as Regent’s Park,
Primrose Hill, St James Park and Kew Gardens - Hyde Park has a place dear in my heart (perhaps because Henry VIII hunted deer here?) Seriously, this is probably because it is a) so close to our flat, only a 3 minute walk away and b) Damon Albarn of the band Blur wrote the song Parklife here.

Blur - older but like a fine wine, even better

Strictly speaking Hyde Park is split into two parts – Hyde Park proper and Kensington Gardens. Kensington Gardens is where J.M. Barrie was inspired to write Peter Pan, where Kensington Palace is located (and Lady Diana lived), is popular with dog walkers and has many tree lined places of wonderment. Everyone seems to refer to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park collectively as Hyde Park, and put simply, it does make things easier!

A house in Hyde Park - maybe of historical significance?

Peter Pan statue

Hyde Park is a little more open and plays host to numerous concerts in the summer. A river known as the Serpentine runs between the two parks and there are two cafĂ©/bars that sit alongside it and even an open river swimming pool called the Lido. I personally wouldn’t go swimming amongst the duck poo, but it does seem popular, especially on hot summer days. Writing this post many months late and we are currently experiencing temperatures over 30 degrees - a large difference to these photos where we are well rugged up.

A scenic view

The park seems to have an abundance of bird life – geese, swans, coots, ducks, herons and the more tree birds. And pigeons. And American grey squirrels (which while cute, have displaced the native red squirrels).

A Heron

Squirrel in Hyde Park

Other points of interest include the Italian Gardens, Speakers Corner and an art gallery slap bang in the middle too. We are still to check out the gallery, but will do so at some point in the near future. There are also many statures, sculptures and monuments dotted around.

The Italian Gardens

I have been having a play with some software from Microsoft called Photosynth. It automatically stitches photos together to create a ‘3D’ representation of an area and below is my effort doing this with the Italian Gardens. Be warned, a broadband connection is strongly recommended for the pictures to load in a reasonable time!

Use your mouse to move around the pictures and you can zoom in and out too (using the controls at the bottom of the picture). Try pressing 'p' for it to show the 'points' of the picture. If you would prefer to see this full screen, click the Expand button (on the far right). You can also take a look at it within the Photosynth webpage by clicking here (and I have a few other pictures there as well).

Speakers Corner

Another institution of Hyde Park is Speakers Corner where people stand and espouse their views on religion, politics, dinosaurs or taxation (or any combination thereof). It’s also where you can be enlightened about the falseness of the theory of evolution by Americans in cowboy hats. Seriously! (Jamas, you would have a field day here). If you want to be exposed to new ideas or have a lively debate, this is the place for you.

Speakers working the crowd

He seems to have the answers

Tag team preaching!

Speakers Corner used to be where condemned prisoners would have their last say before being taken to the nearby gallows. It may very well be where Gordon ends up next year.

From Speakers Corner we moved across to Marble Arch where there was a Islamic ceremony celebration going on. It was celebrating the travels and feats of a prophet from the Middle East. Sorry – I wasn’t paying attention and don’t have much more information than that! They did hand out a few sweets to the crowd, which was nice. Pistachio sweets are always appreciated.

Marble Arch

An Islamic horse

Sha with the horse

Ceremony in full swing

Islamic prayers

With Hyde Park being so close, we may have another Hyde Park post with some more photos. It looks even more spectacular in the summer.

Well, a short and sweet post for today. I'll try and get our next post up very soon as it is of a canal walk on a stunning day.

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