Kensington Gardens review
What is it with birds and their mating dances? I couldn't be faffed with all of that baloney, doing a dance every time I wanted a date. But there's not a lot to do in Kensington Gardens apart from walking around, sitting down and watching the birds. I sat here for months once, just watching the leaves turn from green to orange, watching my beard turn from brown to grey. When you've got knees like mine the benches act like way-stations, like medical stations on a marathon -- you walk around the lake from one to another, recover, then it's on to the next one until you get to the end.
The Serpentine lake has got three cafes around it -- that's how big it is. Back in the day I could probably do a lap in thirty minutes, but it's more like ninety now because I stop off for a cup of coffee at each place. It's a bit like a pub crawl for middle-aged people.
There's quite a lot to watch while you're waiting for your coffee to cool down. They've got some pedal boats, an overgrown island for the birds, and even an open-air swimming pool. The water looks quite clean but I wouldn't fancy swimming in it. It's clean enough to see the stones at the bottom. It's clean enough to read that writing on a discarded coke can and carrier bag.
Near the top of the lake you'll find a sculpture by Henry Moore. Don't ask me what's it's supposed to represent because I haven't got a clue. I dont think Henry had much of a clue either. He was one of those artists who's level of fame was so great that he could basically do whatever he wanted and people would still say it was fantastic. So that's what we've got here: an apparently fantastic blob. But it's worth a visit simply to see the distant view of Kensington Palace through the centre.
If you make it to the top of the lake then you'll find a pretty little Italian Garden. It's a very picturesque place with flowers and fountains, stone pots and ponds, and another handy little cafe (with some toilets this time).
There are a couple of sights worth seeing along the southside of the park. The first one is the outrageously ornate memorial to Prince Albert. It looks like something you might build to honour God -- although to Queen Victoria I suppose he was a god. The other one is directly over the road: the Royal Albert Hall. This entire area is rather crowded today because they've decided to hold a school sports day on the grass, and it's just about the most health and safety conscious event I've ever witnessed. Every kid has got a fluorescent yellow bib on, and they're all getting !@$% over the obstacles by adults. They are literally holding their hands as they hop over the hurdles. If I was in charge I'd have them leaping over barbed wire and fire machine gun blanks over their heads to simulate battle conditions -- these kids need to toughen up! And I wouldn't clap the losers over the line either -- I'd throw cabbages at them and make them run another lap around the lake.
At the far end of the park is what everyone comes to see: Kensington Palace. At the time of writing it's just two days after Harry and Meghan's Windsor wedding so it's still packed and pandemonium. They've got a bank of cameras with big booms and floodlights set up, and everyone is milling around thinking they're going to get a glimpse of the happy couple through the window. But you can't actually see where the royals live from the park -- their apartments are either at the back or behind the gardens. The big rooms you can view from the front are just the State apartments of Queen Victoria and Albert. Obviously I'm not going to tell any of the tourists that.
I’ve been here before…
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