“You must see for yourselves that it will be difficult to follow Peter Pan’s adventures unless you are familiar with the Kensington Gardens.”— Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J.M. Barrie
I haven’t seen Peter Pan in years. When I was little I use to watch the tape over and over again. But, I haven’t seen Peter Pan in years. Aside from Peter flying into Wendy’s window, I don’t remember what happens. I know the plot, but I don’t remember what happens. And yet, my vague memories of Peter Pan still have me wishing at times that I could fly till morning to Neverland. Peter Pan tells me I’m still allowed to have an imagination, to close my eyes and be transported to some fictional land.
I knew, as small and inconsequential as it would seem on the grander scale of my trip, I had to make of point of stopping in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens to see Peter Pan. Just off the body of water called the Serpentine stands Peter Pan. Here in this area, in Kensington Garden, J.M. Barrie created the infamous Peter.
My literary nerdiness was not the only factor pulling me into Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. Most people when they travel make it a point to stop at museums. I make it a point to stop at churches and gardens. Of all the parks and gardens in London, I think none is better known than Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.
The two together prove that the Brits know how to do park and gardens. The landscape consistently interchanges from open space perfect for picnics, to trees perfect for holding up your back while reading. I was actually overwhelmed by the magnitude and size of the two. They just kept going and going. Completely beautiful. Well kept. But huge.
At ever corner I turned there was a special memorial, like Peter Pan, or monument. I paused for a while at an enclosed fountain area. Watching men in tweed caps reading newspapers and grandmothers in head scarves gossiping about the latest neighbor. It was clear that the park wasn’t simply a spot for tourists to escape the crowds, but a place for local Londoners to find solitude and familiarity. A place that exists as part of the local’s routine.
At the northwestern most point of Hyde Park is a giant Marble Arch. I’m not sure if it actually has a purpose. There was no sign telling me why it was there, so I’ve decided that every great city has come to the conclusion they must mark their greatest by having a giant arch (New York, Paris, London). The way the arch sits and its positioning to the park is reminiscent of the pictures I see of Washington Square Park, with its arch, in New York.
After walking from the edge of Kensington Gardens to the edge of Hyde Park, I bid my farewell to the park and Peter Pan.
By this point in my second day in London I had walked more than even I had expected and I was downright tired. I could have stopped, headed back to my hotel. But, what would have been the fun in that. I had one more place I wanted to see before the end of the day. Yet another park and garden.
Regent’s Park is suppose to have some of the most beautiful gardens in London, and if what I had seen of the City’s parks and gardens so far was any indication, it meant they had to be some of the most beautiful gardens I was ever and had ever seen.
It should go without saying that anyone who forgets their umbrella will inevitably get caught in the rain. So it should come as no surprise that the weather worked its magic and having forgotten my umbrella that morning it decided, at the end of my day to start pouring rain. As I emerged from the Tube station a few drops fell here and there. By the time I reached Regent’s Park, the rain was pouring down. I took cover in part of the garden under the trees, captured by what I could only assume were beautiful gardens.
Unfortunately the pouring rain obstructed my view and I eventually gave up any hope of having a chance to wander around and explore the grounds. My glasses were fogged, my feet were wet and my clothes soaked. I quickly wandered back to the Tube, headed for Hounslow and concluded my second full day in London. A little wet, yes. A little tired, yes. A little sore, yes. But, pleased at all I had seen, after only 2 days I already felt like I had experienced so much.