June 19, 2011
I made my way back to Speaker’s Corner and spent the morning listening to some very radical points of view. Religion, politics, and philosophy dominated the soapbox speeches so naturally debate was quick to follow. Hecklers were more numerous than usual, but civility still ruled the day. Probably the most interesting aspect this time around was seeing different speakers visit each other and interact. Virtually the same people come and speak every week, which means they know each other pretty well. Some are friends, while others have nothing more than civilized respect for one another. This familiarity made for some interesting debate as each knows exactly what buttons to push to set off the other. It’s always a show and I do enjoy the free entertainment as much as the curiosity it inspires.
After I had my fill of point/counterpoint I wandered down Knightsbridge and looked for a place to dodge the rain. Harrods was in sight so I decided to see what all the fuss is about concerning this store. The place was so packed it was impossible to enjoy anything about it. From what I could see, there were a lot of people sifting through a lot of over priced stuff. After fifteen minutes, the rain seemed like a better situation. A determined shopper, I am not!
I backtracked to Hyde Park and went for a stroll down Constitution Hill and The Mall. Even with the rain, it was a nice walk.
June 20, 2011
I needed a break from the city, so I stayed in the neighborhood that surrounds the flat where I’m staying. There’s a lot to explore around here and I’m glad I took the time to see it. I walked up The Avenue to get to Alexandra Park, a lovely little surprise I wish I had found a long time ago. Alexandra Palace sits near the entrance, although I didn’t get to see much of it as it’s under renovation. No matter, the park had plenty of other sites, namely a hillside that offered a stunning vista of the city of London. After spending so many days in the thick of the urban center, it was refreshing to see it from a quiet patch of grass.
A lake in the middle of the park gave me a peaceful place to sit and write for most of the morning and into the afternoon. Tall rose bushes and large old trees surround the lake and benches, while ducks and geese swim and play. The picture below was a lucky shot . . .
From the park, I followed Dukes Avenue, which leads directly to the roundabout of Muswell Hill Broadway. This is essentially the center of the neighborhood and I thought it would be fun to wander down each street attached to the center. It took all afternoon, but I got to each spoke on the wheel. In the process, I found a great little local bookshop where I spent a while looking through their shelves. I walked out with Esther’s Inheritance by Sandor Marai. The author is one of my favorites and often very difficult to find at home, which made this a pretty exciting find.
I spent the rest of the day at a local bakery café where I indulged in hot chocolate and a homemade doughnut filled with strawberry jam. As I ate and drank, I started reading my new book. I took my time and the world seemed to slow down. For at least a little while, life was as simple as a good story and a hot drink.
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June 21, 2011
When I found out it was going to be sunny and the temperature was going to reach the upper sixties, I knew this was a day meant to be spent outside. St. James Park popped into my head as the perfect place to enjoy the good weather. I sat on a bench near the central pond and flower gardens – a perfect spot to write a piece I’ve had on my mind for a couple of days. Time slipped right by as my pen scribbled in my journal.
The Changing of the Guard commenced in the middle of the writing process. I stopped long enough to listen to the band play in the distance. And then I caught a glimpse of them marching down The Mall. I couldn’t help but think how nice it was not to be a tourist chasing them down with my camera.
After the serious business of writing, I decided to spend some time with the flowers. All were in bloom with bright colors and what I swear were smiling faces. I took out my camera and started to play with different settings and angles. Some artists play with paint or oil pastels, but I let the light and a digital camera do the work. I really have no idea what I’m doing, but I got some great shots!
I wandered through the park until I found a perfect spot in the grass to sit and relax. The sun was still shining and the clouds raced across the sky, so I laid back and watched the show. After a while I closed my eyes and just listened . . . a breeze rustled the trees, voices scattered from all directions, the city buzzed with cars and helicopters, but surprisingly the leaves blowing in the wind made the most noise.
With the day still so beautiful, I thought a walk along the river would be a nice way to close out the afternoon. The South Embankment always inspires me so much and again I was not disappointed. Just short of Gabriel’s Wharf I sat down and listened to the waves of the Thames crash on the shore below. The tide was low, but in the process of rising so no walk along the sand today. Seagulls sang and the water washed the gravel below, while the sun hit the dome of St. Paul.
June 22, 2011
Sorry, this one will stay between me and London. The last day in this beautiful and inspiring place is one I’d like to keep to myself.