Saturday, 19 December 2015

Walking For Pleasure Xmas London Meet 19th December 2015

I left home to travel up for the Annual Walking For Pleasure Xmas Meet. I arrived at Lancaster Gate early and had miscalculated the travel time. I had an hour to kill before the 10:30 meeting time.I walked through Kensington Gardens, I hadn't walked this far up from Hyde Park before so at least there were new things to see.
First I walked through The Italian Gardens. The Italian Gardens is a 150-year-old ornamental water garden. It is believed to have been created as a gift from Prince Albert to his beloved Queen Victoria.

The Italian Gardens consist of four main basins with central rosettes, all elaborately carved in Carrara marble, and the famous Portland stone and white marble Tazza Fountain. These are surrounded by intricately carved stone statues and urns. The urns have five main designs - the Swan's breast, woman's head, ram's head, dolphin and oval.
The formal layout of the Italian Gardens can be traced to Osborne House on The Isle of Wight. Prince Albert was a keen gardener and took charge of the gardens at Osborne House, where the royal family spent its holidays. One of the big changes Albert made was the introduction of an Italian Garden with large raised terraces, fountains, urns and new geometric flower beds.
In 1860 another Italian Garden was built, this time in Kensington Gardens and with a design by James Pennethorne that included many of the features of the Osborne garden.

At the north of the gardens is the Pump House where you can see Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's initials on one of the walls. The building once contained a steam engine that would operate the fountains and the pillar on the roof is a cleverly disguised chimney. A stoker would be employed all Saturday night to keep the engine running and pump water into the Round Pond, so on Sundays there was enough head of water to run the fountains without the engine working.

I walked on through the park and up to The Peter Pan Statue. It features squirrels, rabbits, mice and fairies climbing up to Peter, who is stood at the top of the bronze statue.
J.M. Barrie lived close to Kensington Gardens and published his first Peter Pan story in 1902, using Kensington Gardens for inspiration.
In his Peter Pan tale, The Little White Bird, Peter flies out of his nursery and lands beside the Long Water. The statue is located on this exact spot.
Use your smartphone to magically bring to life the100-year-old statue. Swipe your phone on the nearby plaque to get a personal call-back from Peter Pan.

I walk on through the park along The Long Water and under the bridge and into Hyde Park, where the water becomes The Serpentine.
The Long Water is a recreational lake in Kensington Gardens, created in 1730 at the behest of Queen Caroline. The Long Water refers to the long and narrow western half of the lake that is known as the Serpentine. Serpentine Bridge, which marks the boundary between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, also marks the Long Water's eastern boundary.
The Long Water and the Serpentine are generally considered to be part of one lake.

I now walk over to The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. This unique Memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales was opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 6th July 2004.

The fountain was built with the best materials, talent and technology. It contains 545 pieces of Cornish granite - each shaped by the latest computer-controlled machinery and pieced together using traditional skills.
The design aims to reflect Diana's life, water flows from the highest point in two directions as it cascades, swirls and bubbles before meeting in a calm pool at the bottom. The water is constantly being refreshed and is drawn from London's water table.
The Memorial also symbolises Diana's quality and openness. There are three bridges where you can cross the water and go right to the heart of the fountain.

The Fountain was closed due to it being Winter I assume.

I walk on by the Serpentine Gallery. One of two the other being a 5 minute walk away.

I walk on through and now reach The Albert Memorial, our meeting point.
It is one of London's most ornate monuments, designed by George Gilbert Scott.Unveiled in 1872, The Albert Memorial commemorates the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband, who died of typhoid fever at the age of 42.

Africa Continent
Marble figures representing Europe, Asia, Africa and America stand at each corner of the memorial, and higher up are further figures representing manufacture, commerce, agriculture and engineering. Yet further up, near the top, are gilded bronze statues of the angels and virtues
Asia Continent

Europe Continent
All around the base of the memorial the Parnassus frieze depicts celebrated painters, poets sculptors, musicians and architects, reflecting Albert's enthusiasm for the arts. There are 187 exquisitely carved figures in the frieze.

America Continent

I exit the park and cross the road to look at The Royal Albert Hall. Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall on the northern edge of South Kensington, London, best known for holding the Proms concerts annually each summer since 1941. It has a capacity (depending on configuration of the event) of up to 5,272 seats

Since its opening by Queen Victoria in 1871, the world's leading artists from many performance genres have appeared on its stage and it has become one of the UK's most treasured and distinctive buildings. Each year it hosts more than 390 shows in the main auditorium, including classical, rock and pop concerts, ballet, opera, film screenings with live orchestra, sports, award ceremonies, school and community events, charity performances and banquets.

The memorial shows Prince Albert holding the catalogue of the Great Exhibition, held in Hyde Park in 1851, which he inspired and helped to organise.

I'd bought a coffee and crisps from a kiosk nearby and wait patiently for the group to appear. Which gradually they did. A great turn out from the forum!

We walked on back the way I had came through the park. On our left in the distance was Kensington Palace. It has been a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century, and is the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

We  come across The Physical Energy Statue. This bronze statue of man on horseback is called Physical Energy and commemorates Cecil Rhodes, the diamond miner and founder of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.
The Physical Energy statue, installed in 1907, is by George Frederick Watts. It is based on a memorial to Rhodes on Table Mountain in Cape Town.
Watts said the statue was "a symbol of that restless physical impulse to seek the still unachieved in the domain of material things". This was particularly appropriate for Cecil Rhodes, made his fortune before he was 30 and in 1880 established the De Beers mining company, which has dominated the diamond industry ever since.
Rhodes used his wealth to try to extend the British Empire in Africa from the Cape of Good Hope in the south to Cairo in the north. Rhodes' dream came true shortly after he died when Britain took control of one million square miles of the Transvaal at the end of the Boer Wars. Rhodes left his fortune to Oxford University to fund the Rhodes Scholarships.

Back down near The Long Water once again, there are Ring Necked Green Parakeets everywhere. They are really tame here and are feeding from residents hands. Earlier I has also seen a man hand feeding blue tits and a robin.

We are now back at The Italian Gardens. The Italian Gardens is also a star location in several films, including Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Wimbledon.

Clip from Bridget Jones

The group posing for a picture.
We walk on round and along the opposite side of Long Water. Where we reach The Arch by Henry Moore.
The Arch is a six-metre high Roman travertine sculpture positioned on the north bank of the Long Water. It was presented by the artist Henry Moore to the nation for siting in Kensington Gardens in 1980 - two years after his eightieth-birthday exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, London.
The Arch is made from seven travertine stones weighing a total of 37 tonnes. The stones were sourced from a quarry in northern Italy.

After being disassembled in 1996 due to structural instability, The Arch has been recently restored at its original location in Kensington Gardens by The Royal Parks and The Henry Moore Foundation.

 We walk under the bridge into Hyde Park and walk along The Serpentine, where we watch with amusement some guy learning how to use roller-blades. Not sure he was impressed with the cheers when he made it back to his instructor! We now reach Winter Wonderland.

 Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park 2015 is a haven of winter markets, festive fairground rides, ice skating, grottos and glühwein galore. We passed The Bavarian market with its tempting smells of Bratwurst sausage and mulled wine and a tempting choice of German beers. A few grabbed some wine and beers, had I known I would have indulged too.

After passing through taking in the sights of the funfair , we left passing Speakers corner.
Speakers' Corner is a traditional site for public speeches and debates since the mid 1800's when protests and demonstrations took place in Hyde Park. It is located on the north-east edge of Hyde Park, nearest Marble Arch and Oxford Street.
Historic figures such as Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and George Orwell were known to often use the area to demonstrate free speech.
In 1872, an act of parliament set aside this part of Hyde Park for public speaking.
We exit the park onto Park Lane and stop to look at The Animals In War Memorial.  This monument is a powerful and moving tribute to all the animals that served, suffered and died alongside the British, Commonwealth and Allied forces in the wars and conflicts of the 20th century.

It was unveiled by HRH The Princess Royal in November 2004, the 90th anniversary of the start of World War I.

We cross and had a envious look at The Aston Martins form sale in the Showroom before continuing our way along Upper Brook Street. We were met here by a late joiner David, before we went onto Grosvenor Square and the American Embassy. Since 1960, the American Embassy has been located in the London Chancery Building, in Grosvenor Square. It is the largest American embassy in Western Europe, and is the focal point for events relating to the United States held in the United Kingdom.

We walk through Grosvenor Square. Grosvenor Square is a large garden square in the exclusive Mayfair district.. It is the centrepiece of the Mayfair property of the Duke of Westminster, and takes its name from their surname, "Grosvenor". Sir Richard Grosvenor obtained a license to develop Grosvenor Square and the surrounding streets in 1710, and development is believed to have commenced in around 1721. Grosvenor Square was one of the three or four most fashionable residential addresses in London from its construction until the Second World War, with numerous leading members of the aristocracy in residence.

A statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt, sculpted by Sir William Reid Dick, stands in the square, as does a later statue of Eisenhower and later one of Ronald Reagan.

We walk along Carlos Place and pass a plush looking Connaught Hotel, with rooms starting from £480 a night. Couldn't understand why the parties members traveling down from The North and Wales had not stayed here!

  • Connaught Christmas Tree 2015 720 x 500

  • Damien Hirst Designs the Connaught Christmas Tree.
    "The Christmas tree is a celebration of togetherness, a joyful symbol of hope and love. For the decorations, I wanted to reference some of the amazing things that give us hope in the world today.
    – Damien Hirst

We walk past Berkeley Square, but did not hear a single Nightingale! We then walk onto Bruton Road, where we all piled into The Coach & Horses. Bit of a squeeze in there for us lot so we left, probably to the staffs relief!
Shame a nice looking pub!  Dating back to 1770s, the Coach and Horses is thought to be one of the first properties to be built in Bruton Street.

We head out onto New Bond Street and its expensive busy shops.

We turn into Burlington Gardens and pass The Burlington Arcade. The arcade was built to the order of Lord George Cavendish, younger brother of the 5th Duke of Devonshire, who had inherited the adjacent Burlington House, on what had been the side garden of the house and was reputedly to prevent passers-by throwing oyster shells and other rubbish over the wall of his home. His architect was Samuel Ware. The Arcade opened on 20th March 1819. It consisted of a single straight top-lit walkway lined with seventy-two small two storey units. Some of the units have now been combined, reducing the number of shops to around forty. The ponderous Piccadilly façade in a late version of Victorian Mannerism was added in the early 20th century.

We then cross over Regent Street and into Brewer Street opposite.

Regent Street
We stopped off at Glasshouse Stores a Samuel Smith Pub for a pint but ended there for a few more!
Plenty of laughter and good times in here!

I had a couple of pints of Taddy Lager, had this before in The Captain Kidd pun in Wapping, lovely drop of beer.

After walking through another street, Sioban points out a random nose on the wall. Then as we exit onto Dean Street, Sioban is beckoning us over to Sunset Strip. Sunset Strip is an exclusive strip club with a bubbling, fun atmosphere and plenty of stripping and private dancing to make the most of, situated in the heart of Soho.
I'm thinking God shes eager to get us all into the Strip Club! But no shes showing us another random nose behind the foilage on the property next door.

After a bit of Google searches, Ive found out that these noses are part of an art exhibit called London Noses. The London Noses or Seven Noses of Soho are an artistic installation found on buildings in London. They are plaster of Paris reproductions of the artist's nose which protrude from walls in an incongruous and unexpected way. They were created by artist Rick Buckley in 1997. Initially, about 35 were attached to buildings such as the National Gallery and Tate Britain but now only about 10 survive.

Ouside Bar Italia is an old Mod with her Vespa, as you can see they were eager to try it out!

Here is Bar Italia that opened in 1949 by an Italian family. An upstairs room hosted the worlds first live television broadcast in 1925. The inhabitant John Logie Baird arrived in Soho after being evicted from a previous home after causing an explosion. Baird constructed the first TV equipment and his experiment in October 1925 and ran downstairs to Mr Cross office and seized by the arm his office boy, William Taynton and took him upstairs and put him in front of the transmitter. Baird bribed the boy with 2s 6d to take part in the experiment and thus he became the first televised person in history.

We now leave Dean Street onto Frith Street,where we see Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club,famous for its world class jazz performances. This was the venue for the first public performance of The who's rock opera Tommy in 1969 and for Jimi Hendrix's final public performance in 1970.

Further up the street at no 20 is the site of the house where composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) stayed in the 1760s. Wolfgang came to London with his Father and his talented 4 year old sister entertaining visitors for a fee.

We leave Soho and out onto Shaftesbury Avenue and across into Chinatown
The present Chinatown is part of the City of Westminster, occupying the area in and around Gerrard Street. It contains a number of Chinese restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets, souvenir shops, and other Chinese-run businesses.

We walk along Gerrard Street and then turn past The M&M store and up to Leicester Square.

In Leicester Square we crowds dressed up for the newly released Star Wars The Force Awakens that is showing at The Odeon.

Here I said goodbye to the group as I was feeling a little unwell and didn't want to spoil the rest of the walk for them. They left and went onto the final section the walk at Covent Garden.

I stopped for a couple of pictures with the Star Wars mob before heading home.

I would like to thank Sioban for arranging this walk and was good to see everyone again!
About 5miles roughly!

No comments:

Post a Comment