Parks and playgrounds are wonderful things. Perhaps not quite as wonderful as Tiggers...actually I may be in the wrong country for that. Anyway, green spaces and imaginative possibilities are wonderful for children and really people of all ages.
Today our group visited Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens, and Memorials to Princess Diana of Wales. Hyde Park has quite a bit more to offer compared to the many squares and gardens around London. Though there are still wide open spaces for many of the same activities as the other green spaces of London, water is much more prevalent in Hyde Park. Along with a pond near Kensington Palace, there is Lake Serpentine, where park goers can rent pedal-boats and row boats to enjoy the lake and get up close to swans, ducks, and other foul swimming along.
Another piece of water that is significant in this area the Round Pond where, according to J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan sails across and lands each night to play once the Gardens are closed to the public. In that area now stands a statue that was put up over night. Barrie wanted it to appear as if by magic. It's a beautiful statue with Peter at the top and fairies scrambling up to him.
We also visited two memorials to Princess Diana of Wales. The first is also related to Peter Pan in that a pirate ship can be found there. I am, of course, talking about the Princess Diana of Wales Memorial Playground. This playground has typical playground things, like swings, slides, and things to climb on, but it also has a Pirate Ship, teepees, a storytime area, and interactive music stations. I've noticed quite a few moments of interactivity for children in the places I've visited here in London. The Museum of London offered touch screens to play with and hats to try on; at the Architecture museum in Paris, children were invited to try to recreate building structures, put together stained glass windows and create their own characters. At the Victoria and Albert, there were a few interactive sections, one in particular encouraged visitors to try their hand at perspective drawings. Interactivity is important for learning. For instance, if someone just showed me various forms of multi-media I wouldn't learn as much about them as I am by creating multi-media of my own.
What's also phenomenal about the playground is that it is only open to people with children. There is a special hour--from 9 to 10am--where adults without children may visit, but once the playground opens at 10, you will be asked to leave. I was making my way toward the exit when a worker stopped me to be sure that that was exactly what I was doing. This ensures that the kids and parents feel comfortable in the playground and also prevents vandalism. Frolicing
There is a second memorial for Princess Diana which is a memorial fountain, except it's not like any usual fountain. Instead it's more like a really shallow lazy river and is a place for children of all ages to frolic and cool off on a hot summer's day. The fountain is quite beautiful and has a couple of different drop offs to keep it interesting. Children in various forms of dress and undress were enjoying the cool water. While sitting back in the shade, I watched three girls circle four or five times in the twenty or so minutes I was there. I also noticed that some little ones had swimwear that resembles swimwear from the twenties. It was definitely made for water, but it had longer legs, more like shorts, and sleeves. My only guess is that this is because the water was quite cool even though the day was very warm.
The day was topped off with high tea at the Orangery near Kensington Palace. When we arrived our tables were set up with our tea trays, lemon water, and cups awaiting very hot tea. It was a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Brittany was our table's guide to proper tea etiquette--we were sure to start at the bottom with the sanwhiches and work our way to the top for sweets. I'm very glad that I had the opportunity to enjoy high tea in London.
Finally, Mexico is not speaking to me today because I forgot to take him with me. He really wanted to see the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens. Pikachu, on the other hand, was thrilled to not be left home alone again.