I thought I'd give the museums and attractions a rest this week and just do some free stuff -- Marble Arch and Hyde Park. I spent a few hours walking round and looking into every little corner and saw some stuff that I never even knew was there. The place is massive when you do it properly -- it took me half an hour just to walk around the lake, that is how big it is.
The first little bit I came across was Speaker's Corner. I've been there a few times now but I've never once seen anyone speak. It was completely deserted. Just a load of leaves blowing about in the wind and people queueing for the hot dog stand. I know you're supposed to go on Sunday lunchtime to get the good stuff, so maybe I'll go back at the weekend. But today was a total washout.
Next up was the bandstand (with no band). I didn't have my trombone with me or I would have given the Japanese tourists a tune. So I went round the top edge near the Bayswater Road. This is when I saw my first little thing that I never knew existed... a Pet Cemetery. You can't actually get inside, which is a bit of a bummer, but you can peer through the railings at the little graves beyond if you want. You can actually get a better view if you go outside the park and look through the fence from the road. It is proper spooky too -- they are proper little concrete tombstones. There's probably a couple of hundred of the things, about a foot tall -- just like the ones we have for humans. I would have liked to have read the inscriptions and seen what they said, but it's just out of reach behind the rusted iron railings. And the whole place is overgrown with trees hanging down and around to cover up their little plots. A strange little place.
If you carry on going around the edge then you come to Buck House, which is another spooky little place (I didn't realise Hyde Park was so scary). It's like a little haunted cottage. After that is the famous Italian Gardens. Unfortunately it was all boarded up today so I couldn't do any photos, but I know what it's like so I will describe it. It's basically a big courtyard surrounded by concrete urns and some pretty impressive statues, and inside are tonnes of very large water fountains. None of them were working today, but if you sit in the seats around the edge then prepare to get your sandwiches wet if the wind picks up, because they spout their spit about ten feet high. It's a pretty nice place when it's working. But I suppose they are sprucing it up for the Olympics next year.
After that I started walking around the Serpentine. It's supposed to be a lake but it felt more like the Pacific Ocean when I started trekking round it. They should lay on some buses or bikes, because it's huge. There's about a billion ducks and swans and other things with wings that I don't know the name of. And if you feel like a nutter then you can buy a peddle boat and live like they do for half-an-hour.
They are probably the best-fed birds in the whole of Britain because it seemed like everyone had a loaf of bread on them. Every five paces was a little old lady crunching up the crumbs with her gloves and dishing them out to the wild fowl. Every bird in the universe was congregating in this one place for a massive slap-up meal (of bread). What happens if you're a bird and you don't like bread? You're screwed. It's back to the worms for a while. Luckily for me I didnt have to get down and peck their stale crumbs, because they've got a restaurant halfway round that sells posh tea, scones, and those old-fashioned bottles of coke.