No matter how nice the weather has been, is, or is forecast to be in London, don’t trust it.
Sunday started out as a beautifully sunny, relatively warm, t-shirt appropriate day. What a perfect opportunity to explore one of the largest parks in London, Hyde Park. By the time we dragged ourselves from the couch it was just past midday, so after catching the tube to Lancaster Gate station we wandered around until we stumbled upon Craven Café for lunch. We ordered two sandwiches and a side of chips (crisps are “cold” chips and chips are hot chips here, but crisps are often consumed with a sandwich for lunch as well). We took the food to a fountain and pond area called the Italian Gardens in Kensington Gardens. This was when the sun decided to hide behind some clouds and the wind picked up; we wolfed down our humble yet delicious food and hurried on to our next activity.
Using the Santander Cycles app, we tracked down the closest docking station. The Santander bikes cost £2 per 24 hours, plus £2 per half hour with the first half hour of each session free. Keep an eye out for bikes with the seats turned backwards – this means the previous user found something wrong with the bike. They are really easy to ride, however a bit slow (not Tour de France worthy, I’m afraid), but overall the perfect way to explore the expanse of Hyde Park. It’s worth noting that some areas of the park don’t allow cyclists so you’ll need to dismount or risk a £60 fine.
It was freezing by this point and my gym gear and Justin’s t-shirt (I seem to have failed in my womanly “come on, take a jacket” insistence) were not doing very well, especially with the increased relative wind speed of riding. Even with the slow bikes, we did warm up after a little while so were able to enjoy the beautiful Serpentine with its boats, birds and restaurants, the gorgeous old rows of trees and the wildflowers growing sporadically among the greenery.
If you’re in the area, it’s worth it to take a stroll along the road called Kensington Palace Gardens to the west of Kensington Palace; it’s lined with extravagant foreign embassies, laden with sports cars and adorned with beautifully manicured gardens. Some have high fences but with most you can catch a glimpse inside and wonder at what goes on!
Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park are near many other attractions; the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, Royal Albert Hall, Victoria and Albert Museum and Kensington High Street. Make a day of it, but remember your coat!