Much of my London experience has met expectations. The history buff has certainly had his itch scratched. The believer/churchman has had plenty to do, see, and experience. The people-watcher is in danger of overload.
My biggest surprise so far? I have fallen in love with the parks, gardens, and green spaces!
We've enjoyed some of the "biggies" like St. James' Park with its beautiful flower beds, the vast open spaces in Hyde Park, and the trees of Kensington Park. Most of them have "water features" like the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, the cleverly named "Round Pond" in Kensington Park, or the understated and inviting Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. We plan to visit Regent's Park this afternoon and hope to squeeze-in a trip to Kew Gardens before heading home.
Good things also come in smaller packages. While waiting for the girls to see a movie I came across the flowering beauty of Holland Park in Kensington. Later we discovered the formal beauty of the sunken garden at Kensington Palace. Friday I read in the shadow of a statue memorializing William Tyndale (martyred in 1536 for translating the Bible into English) in the Victoria Embankment Gardens.
Parks and gardens enrich city life in a number of ways. The trees and green spaces literally help provide the city a breath of fresh air through the production of oxygen. Moms and nannies still stroll children along the pathways. Recreational opportunities abound through boating, jogging. cycling, walking, and playing soccer (I haven't seen any frisbee golf, yet). There are swans and ducks and geese to be enjoyed and fed, though dog owners are cautioned not to permit their dogs to "worry or injure the waterfowl." Aesthetically, the flower gardens add a touch of color to the otherwise gray palette of the city. And as the inscription on one park bench read, "everybody needs a place to sit and think."
We all need more green space in our lives.