Despite small patches of rain, it’s a good day to wander through Regent’s Park just off Baker Street. The park is nice spot of green in the middle of a busy urban center; perfect for midday a rest and a little exploring. Ducks, geese, and waterfowl run free along large ponds and swim under arch bridges. Large elm trees dust curving paths and sway to the pattern of a nipping breeze. The vistas are lovely, but the roses steal the show.
The Queen’s Garden inhabits the center of the park and is filled with hundreds of different plants and flowers that are beautiful in their own right, but they are merely the opening act. The sweet smell of roses is so alluring there is no choice but to follow the scent to wherever it leads. In one large plantation after another, fully bloomed roses are grouped by color and variety. From vibrant shades of red to pale whispers of peach, there is a rose for every mood and fit of fancy. Each sends it signature aroma into the air and lures passers-by to take a break from the day and smell the roses.
For the space of an afternoon, my name is Alice and I am frolicking through the private rose garden of the Queen of Hearts. Though no paint is needed for these petaliferous beauties. The fairy tale continues into a large circle of rose plots, surrounded by lattice poles adorned by roses and flowers growing on vines. I keep waiting for Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty to appear with a handsome prince at her side.
In a day or two, the roses so brilliantly on display will wither away, but the memory will not fade. The taxis and buses of Baker Street can rumble all they like, for the storybook wonder of rose petals will always bloom again.
We got a late start, but managed to arrive at Hyde Park just in time for Speaker’s Corner. We attended this weekly event last time we were in London and had such a great time, it was all but required to return. Every Sunday speakers and listeners crowd a small corner of Hyde Park, near Marble Arch. Everything from religion, politics, history, culture, and a slew of other controversial topics are discussed. Usually someone gets up on their soapbox and starts giving an opinion and before long a crowd gathers and the debates begin. It’s a fascinating thing to watch people passionately argue different points of view without coming to blows.
When it began to drizzle, we headed over to Covent Garden to watch the street performers and visit the Jubilee Market. Once the rain started coming down, it was lucky to have at least a bit of roof over our heads. We warmed up in a coffee shop and waited for the rain to abate.
The rain kept falling, but we decided to head out in it anyway armed with an umbrella. We headed towards the embankment and crossed Waterloo Bridge where the rain filled sky made for some amazing views of the city and Parliament. We walked along the Thames until hitting Westminster Bridge where we stopped to take in yet another gorgeous view of Big Ben.
We circled around Lambeth Bridge and got soaked on the way back to Westminster. The rain was fun, but my cold, wet feet were not. I think I know why Europeans hem their jeans so much shorter than Americans – their pants were dry while mine were wet halfway up to my knees.