London: Hyde Park & A Story

I arrived back in London from Glasgow and got into my hotel after 5:00 p.m. today. After settling in, I didn’t have much time to tour around before dinner. But I did have time for a stroll through Hyde Park.

I intentionally stayed in a different hotel than the one I was at during my London sojourn at the start of this trip.

The primary reason for staying at a different hotel was I wanted one that was an easy walk to Paddington Station. I can catch the Heathrow Express from Paddington when I head back home the day after tomorrow.

In addition to making for an easy trip to the airport, it also means I get to see different streetscapes than I did at the start of the trip.

Plus, despite this hotel being farther from most of the major London sights, it’s much closer to a couple I plan to visit tomorrow. 

And it’s close to Hyde Park. I took a stroll to the park and through it before dinner.

Hyde Park

Hyde Park

What can I say about Hyde Park? It’s a park. It’s big. The park includes beautifully treed areas, some huge un-manicured lawns, and some even scruffier (intentionally, I think) grassland patches. There was also at least one snack bar that I saw and one, what I think was, a small rain shelter. 

Bicycle and walking paths circled and crisscrossed Hyde park. They were well used.

Hyde Park also houses the famous Speakers’ Corner. Nobody spoke when I was there. Without speakers it just looks like a barren patch of concrete paving with some subtle designs in it. There was also signage describing Speakers’ Corner and it’s history.

A lake, The Serpentine, borders Hyde Park  on one side and separates it from Kensington Gardens. I don’t know if the lake is technically in Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, or split down the middle between the two. However, a pedal boat rental booth was definitely on the Hyde side.

They’re both Royal Parks, so I guess it’s not particularly important which incorporates the lake. Never mind.

Swans and ducks swam in the lake and pedal boaters pedaled. A Henry Moore sculpture, The Arch, overlooked the lake.

I set foot (alright, both feet) in Kensington Gardens, but only just. At one end of the lake, just before a road leading back to my hotel, sat a lovely garden terrace with charming fountains and reflecting pools. Being at the end of The Serpentine, it too sits between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. I didn’t know which it officially belonged to until I saw a sign on the Hyde Park side of the terrace welcoming me to The Italian Gardens. Right beside that sign was a smaller sign thanking me for keeping Kensington Gardens clean.

Because I was getting a little peckish, that’s as far as I went into Kensington Gardens. If I have time tomorrow and the weather cooperates, I might explore it further.

Here are some pictures in Hyde Park. I could have taken a picture or two on the way back from Hyde Park, but I took a more direct route and I was too peckish for pictures—and I wanted to set up an opportunity for alliteration.

And Another Thing

Because I spent a large chunk of my day on a train, this post is a lot shorter than normal. I fear you’ve come all the way to this blog and now feel you’ve wasted your time surfing here only to find so little content.

I’ll rectify that by relating a story from the train.

I traveled on a first class Brit Rail Pass and made reservations for my seats on the various legs of my journey. On my Glasgow to London trip, I was assigned a seat that had another seat facing it. When I got on at Glasgow that seat was empty.

In first class, attendants came by to, first, offer tea or coffee, then “cold drinks.” When I heard “cold drinks” I thought that meant water, juice and soft drinks. But I overheard someone behind me, who was served before me, ask for white wine.

Hmm. Wine. That sounds nice.

Before the first stop, they also served a “brunch” (more like a very unexciting snack). Lunch, which was also no more than a snack, and no more appetizing, came later. 

At the first stop, a man nattily attired in a suit occupied the seat across from me. I’d say he was early-middle age. I’m horrible at estimating ages, so he could have been anywhere between 25 and 55, plus or minus ten years, 19 times out of 20. But his age is totally irrelevant to the story. Forget I even mentioned it.

He had obviously ridden Virgin Rail (the operating company) in first class before. He knew what’s what.

Shortly after taking his seat, he got up, went to a cabinet in the middle of the car, and grabbed a couple of free bottles of sparkling water. No one told me about the free water. I took advantage once before London, but I only took one bottle. The man, however, restocked his water supply later in the trip.

Three times between when he got on the train and when the route ended in London the attendant came by with “cold drinks” again. I already had a healthy (or unhealthy; medical science isn’t definitive on that) glass of wine before he got on, so I took advantage of the wine only once more.

Gin and Tonic

All three times he asked for a gin and tonic. All three times. Gin and tonic meant a small bottle of gin (the size available or, rather, that used to be available on planes) and a small tin of tonic.

Every first class seat on the train had a glass on the table in front of it before we boarded. Customers who ordered a gin and tonic had to pour the ingredients into their glasses themselves.

The attendant asked the man if he wanted ice. He said yes all three time. The attendant took his glass, put in ice, handed it back, and moved down the aisle.

As soon as the attendant moved on, the man put the small gin bottle and tonic tin into a non-wheeled carry-on bag beside him. He then poured some of his water into his ice-stocked glass. All three times.

On the third time, and only the third time, the attendant loosened the cap on the small gin bottle, but didn’t remove it entirely, before handing it to the man. As soon as the attendant moved on, the man screwed the cap back on, using multiple twists and all the strength he could muster to ensure it was on tightly. He then put it in his bag to join its siblings.

Who does that? I bet the guy’s employer pays for his train travel and he travels only to restock his gin and tonic inventory. “Sorry, boss. I’d love to take that business trip, but I haven’t any room at home for more gins and tonic.”

Well, that’s the story. Alright; alright. I admit it’s wasn’t very interesting, informative, or entertaining.

So now, rather than wasting a little of your time dragging you here only to find scant content, I’ve wasted considerably more of your time. Sorry about that. I’ll try to do better tomorrow, my last chance to redeem myself during this trip. 


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