Hot in the City and Hyde Park is the Place to be!
Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park – the green lungs of London and two of the finest parks you’ll find anywhere
Parks are a wonderful place to escape the hustle and bustle of life in this great city and when I get a day off from driving the cab, I love nothing more than spending some time with the family at the park. Over years of working around the Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park areas of London and spending some time in each of them myself, I’ve come to realise that these parks offer much more than perfectly kept grass and beautifully smelling flowers. In fact, there are absolutely loads of things to do. Let’s take the taxi drivers tour! (Don’t worry we’ll use our legs for this one.)
Okay, so we’re going to explore the real magic of the parks, we’ll drop off at the corner of Park Lane and Cumberland Gate so you can sample the bastion of British free speech: Speakers’ Corner. It doesn’t matter what day or what time you visit Speakers’ Corner, there’s always something going on. From capitalism to socialism, this little section of the park has been frequented by the likes of Karl Marx, William Morris, and George Orwell – you can even get up and preach yourself if you fancy it.
Staying in Hyde Park, let’s head to the Serpentine Lido for a spot of swimming. People have been donning their costumes and taking a dip in the Serpentine for hundreds of years, and there’s a little paddling pool for the kids to enjoy too. If you’re more of a sunbather than a swimmer, grab one of the deck chairs and lounge around with a cold beverage from the Lido Café Bar.
Serpentine Boating Lake
After the cab, do you know what this Kensington taxi driver’s favourite mode of transport is? Boat! And if you haven’t had you’re fill of water from the Lido, we’ll take to the Serpentine Boating Lake for a relaxing float along the water. There are 110 pedalos and rowboats here, so take your pick of whether you prefer working the arms or the legs and we will snake around the west of the park, maybe stopping off at the Diana Memorial Fountain en route.
Right, that’s enough water for one day; let’s get back on terra firma with a spot of horse riding. Over at Rotten Row, Hyde Park has its very own horse stables, which offer riding lessons to adults and children all year round. You may have seen this equestrian venue on the 2012 Olympic Games, but the sport has been practised here for 300 years. You don’t need any experience to ride a horse, so hop on.
A Boris bike ride
Now that we’ve enjoyed some of the great things Hyde Park has to offer, let’s take a stroll to Kensington Gardens. We’ll stop at Palace Gate, where you can hop on to one of the many Barclays hire cycles, otherwise known as Boris bikes, after Mayor Boris Johnson. There is no charge for the bikes if you are using them for less than 30 minutes, so if you get those legs pumping you can cycle the Palace Walk route before we head to our next attraction. If you prefer a casual ride, you can pay for your usage by debit or credit card. It’s a great way to explore the whole of the park.
A 900-year old tree stump would not normally feature on my list of things to do, but Elfin Oak is no ordinary tree stump. Get close and you will notice an array of wonderful carvings that make it look as though gnomes, elves, and small animals are living in the bark. If you’re a Pink Floyd fan, you may have noticed Elfin Oak featured on the inside cover on the band’s Ummagumma album.
It’s been a pretty activity-intensive day, so let’s finish off by winding down with a visit to the former home of Princess Diana and current London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Kensington Palace. Situated on the western edge of Kensington Gardens, the Palace allows access to most of its rooms and you can see an exhibition of some of Princess Diana’s clothes, as well as the Royal Ceremonial dress collection. There’s also a shop for gifts and The Orangery Café if you feel a bit parched during your visit.
These are just some of the attractions that the two parks have to offer, but of course, you don’t want to overdo it, so I’ll save a few more little gems for next time you’re in the cab. How does tomorrow sound?