After my morning at the London Natural History Museum, I went back to the flat to wait for my friend Cecilia, who was arriving to meet up for a week of exploring London. That afternoon, for her first London experience, we went to Hyde Park to have tea at the Orangery and walk around the sprawling grounds. The park is cut through by the Serpentine lake, which you can see above.
The Orangery was a bit crowded, but we finally got a table on the terrace where we had high tea, with my choice being the Earl Grey Blue Flowers, which was new to me. The place is on the grounds of Kensington Palace and accessed by a path through some very carefully trimmed trees, and was built in the 1700s, originally as a greenhouse for Queen Anne.
Storm clouds were rolling over Hyde Park as we left the Orangery. I think it rained every single day I was in England, so by this point I wasn’t going anywhere without an umbrella. Above you can see a statue of Queen Victoria, facing away from Kensington Palace to the park proper.
There were some ravens roaming the grass of Hyde Park, apparently unafraid of the weather. When Henry VIII acquired the land that would become Hyde Park in 1563, it was originally set up as his private deer hunting ground, but I think birds are the main fauna these days.
That evening we took a stroll by some sites near the flat, rambling over the Buckingham Palace as the sun was setting behind the still heavy clouds. We walked up to the Victoria Memorial, shown above, which was built in 1911, and includes another white statue of Queen Victoria, although a little later in her years than the one in Hyde Park.
The memorial incorporates bronze statues in its border, including this one of a lion and a worker symbolizing industry.
There was also this lion-human pair representing progress or victory, I believe.
Further down the road towards the River Thames, we found ourself in front of the illuminated Parliament, where red buses sped by the gold tower of Big Ben, the sun now completely set and the city punctuated by lights.
Here is another view of Parliament at night. I feel like London is a little more mysterious than New York in its late hours, still having an old world mystery that it reclaims with each sunset, when the lights still don’t quite illuminate all its dark corners.