“I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
And each road leads you where you want to go.” —- Unknown
On our first full day in London, we could have jumped right in and started checking off the biggies…. Buckingham Place, the Changing of the Guard, Westminster, Big Ben, the Tower of London. Instead, we took a more low-key route and didn’t see even one tour bus.
We headed for Kensington Gardens and walked through lovely streets lined with stately homes, the kind that might have employed a Mary Poppins or housed those Disney Dalmatians. At the south end of Kensington Palace, we came upon the golden gates laden with memorials where today a small group of mourners sat, paying homage to their beautiful Princess Diana, who died nineteen years ago today. We toured the Kensington Palace, but saw no sign of the young Royals who live there. This palace seems rather modest, as palaces go, but an exhibit of gowns worn by the Queen, Princess Margaret, and the beautiful Diana was a delight, and we got a peek at the life of Victoria and Albert as well.
Most of our day was spent outside, however, just meandering through the vast gardens and Hyde Park. “Vast”? For over two hours, we walked to the admire the carousel, then past Round Pond, down the South Flower Walk that led to the Albert Memorial, and across West Carriage Drive to see the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. More of a circular stream, today the fountain was bustling with kids. Families lolled on the lawn, and parents kept an eye on their children splashing, shrieking, soaking themselves in the cool water. Wouldn’t Diana be smiling?
We stopped for lunch at a cafe next to the Serpentine Lake, where paddle boats shared the water with swans and ducks. After lunch, we found the Peter Pan statue and the Italian Garden, then took a woodsy path to a bird sanctuary where we spotted no birds. Now on the other side of the lake, we passed beach chairs, rented by the hour, where Londoners sunbathed or simply frittered away an afternoon, and then we savored the rose garden.
The paths today weren’t too busy, but we encountered plenty of locals enjoying the sunshine, riding bikes, pushing strollers, sketching at the Italian Garden, hanging out under a shade tree, or simply walking, just like us. Our favorites were two little girls, Alex and Sophia, about three years old, who whizzed past us on mini-scooters. We asked their mums where we could find the Peter Pan statue and had a chance to chat with these two little cousins… “cheeky”, one mum said. Adorable, we thought.
We’re sure to love those biggies on another day, but today was perfect. And, we have the luxury of many more London days.