|Subject: London: Kensington Palace, Orangery & Park. Princess Diana playground, WOW!|
A rememberance of Day 3 in London, 2002
A cool and overcast morning, sun appeared in the afternoon
We ate a full English breakfast at our B&B and walked to Kensington Palace to take a two hour tour. We saw Princess Diana's gowns which are in stunningly good taste. Particularly when compared to the Queen's!
We had lunch at the Orangery next to the Palace. It is a wonderful Victorian building with tall windows allowing sunlight to stream in at angles that wa built for Queen Ann in 1704. I made a number of nice photographs, some including the tempting dessert table. We had ham and cheese on a croissant with salad and iced tea. Many Brits were visiting the Palace.
At the Palace we saw the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection. Of interest to us were a tailor's showroom and a dressmaker's workshop where we learned how the fine embroidery was done with a wide variety of expensive materials. Observations: Materials, not just material but decorations, tools, etc. tailoring, lace, formality, etiquette, exploitation of women # victims of dust, carpal tunnel syndrome, long hours, tedious work, lint in lungs, toss them (the workers, not the fabric) on the scrap heap when no longer productive. Residence apartments, Queen Victorian time. We also saw a special exhibit of the Queens wedding dresses over the last 100 years including the Queen Mum's wedding dress and veil # very 1920's # simple, elegant, not over done.
After lunch we walked around Kensington Gardens/Park and stumbled upon the Princess Diana Foundation Children's Playground near the Inverness Terrace Gate in the extreme NW corner of the park along Bayswater Road. WOW! If you go visit the Palace, be sure to seek out this place! It is a very short walk.
There are many different play "environments" separated by small mounds, vegetation such as bushes, flowering plants/bushes/gardens and high grasses so a small child often is not only unaware of the other play areas but the park proper as well as the surrounding city and its bustle of activity of adults. It opens at 10am and has become so popular that mothers and nannies with children in tow in prams and jog prams, etc are lined up at the gate at least 15 minutes early. Adults without children are not allowed in the playground.
It was very difficult to see the various structures and activities because of the dense bush growth already mentioned. We heard, what sounded like the tinkle of a small child's toy piano. As we came closer to the area of the "music" we saw an English women in a traditional London Fog raincoat and heels leaping lightly up and down on small metal squares about 9 inches by 9 inches inside a large metal frame on the serpentine path that goes around the park.
She was the sister of the groundskeeper, who was with her. We struck up a conversation with them. She had come to London on a shopping trip and was visiting him on his job. I explained that I was a photographer that had attended the Institute of Design in Chicago that had originally planned to be a product designer and this would have been a typical problem we might have been assigned.
I felt extremely lucky to convince the groundskeeper, to agree to meet me the next morning at 9am sharp and give me the grand tour.
We then walked a half mile to visit an "Italian" fountain and pond with various water fowl in the Long Water Serpent. Along the path, facing east along the pond was a delightful statue of Peter Pan playing his flute atop a tree stump. Emerging out of the crevices of the tree trunk were fairies complete with dragon fly wings and oh, so feminine delicate hands. It was a delight to also discover small groups of inquisitive mice and squirrels, some being fed by a group of three fairies. It was also a joy to walk completely around the statue to encounter each one.
Unfortunately, the bright sun was behind the black statue. Of course it was directly behind Peter's head for the best angle! I did some nice detail shots that the sun problem didn't affect but of course the lighting was totally flat on the dark metal. On camera flash certainly was not the solution since it would have washed out everything. It was a frustrating no win situation.
We walked part of the way back to our B&B before jumping on the tube. Before that I discovered an extremely inexpensive (only 1 £/hour!) cyber café next to the ice rink at 23-25 Queensway a half a block off Bayswater run by an Arab in a "mall" of strange stores and services. The phone number is 020-7313-9933. I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't the place used by terrorist cells to communicate with each other all over the world. (There is a tube stop there.) It has for centuries been a first port of call for immigrants. European Jews came in the middle of the last century; Arabs flooded the area a few decades later and in the 1990s came Bosnians and Kosovars. There are also Nigerians, Chinese, Afghans, Serbs, Iranians and Europeans of every description. The area is a mix of all these cultures as apparent in the folks on the street, shops and restaurants.
I walked the street after a late session at the Cyber Café and discovered that all the cuisines of the world are represented here. Within a few steps from one another I found Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Thai, Iranian, Japanese, Iraqi, Italian, Greek and African restaurants, to mention just a few. The street is alive late, as opposed to other areas of London.
Till my posting of the fourth day,
Cherrio from Steve Wall in sunny Chicago