Saturday, June 23, 2012
A Walk in the Park
One of the things that Mr. Muscato and I do when traveling is split up and have little day adventures on our own, as his tastes run more to shopping and people-watching (i.e. sitting in low dives) and mine, wonkily, skew toward museums and brisk walks. After nine years, it's amazing enough we're still speaking; our travel patterns are one of the reasons why.
In any case, after a nice pub breakfast, we went our merry ways. I took the tube, since even my passion for walking has its limits. It's been a while since I did the underground, and while I've always admired London's ability to maintain upholstery on public transport (how long would that last in Manhattan?), I was particularly taken with the gentle warning woven right into this seatback. This seat, it indicates, is reserved for ladies who either expecting or gluttonous, or who are either clutching their spawn or being pawed by a koala, or for gentlemen who are either infirm, or who are about to launch into a tap routine. I find it shocking that perhaps my favorite class of Londoners, old ladies, are so thoroughly ignored.
I made my way to Kensington Palace, where I was particularly pleased to see that the statue of Queen Victoria, by her formidable daughter Louise, Duchess of Argyll, has been ugraded to a pedestal and moat. It previously sat on a squat and rather battered little plinth, where it was regularly assaulted by schoolchildren and even had, if memory serves, several broken fingers. I think she and the Palace both look grand.
Sadly, however, the dear old place has recently been renovated from top to toe, and it has fallen into the hands of that most dread of bunches, Museum Interpreters. Well, they have interpreted the place up the wazoo, and what was formerly a lovely, quiet, and backwater-y sort of place has been hyperthemed, kid-friendlied, and filled with things like "evocative" sculptures (apparently made of department store mannequin parts and copper baling) hanging from the light fixtures. All labels have been removed, replaced by a "storyline" in each area that's meant to bring home all the intrigue and glamour of palace living. Well, when it comes to Queen Anne, that's a stretch, so they've really had to go town about it all. It would be nice to know what paintings and furniture one is looking at, rather than having ghostly voices whispering from the corners and mood lighting that would embarrass a discotheque in 1978, but even so I was till able to enjoy a surfeit of Winterhalters and Lelys, and to admire a lovely pair of gloves belonging to the Duchess of Teck, mother of the late Queen Mary.
I believe this regal gentlemen, looking rather pained by it all, is Charles I, but heaven knows nothing at the Palace would tell you that...
Back outside, I wandered across the Park back toward our hotel. Living in the Sandlands, it is truly amazing how much one can come to miss, without realizing it, things like grass studded with tiny daisies. When that grass even boasts a feather or two from Her Majesty's Swans, installed in the nearby Round Pound, one's joy is complete.
Another of the joys of London is that it's entirely possible, in the middle of one of the greatest metropolises on the face of the earth, to occasionally feel like you're deep in the country. I snapped this just shy of a block from the Bayswater Road, but it might as well be Hardy country or some such.
So we're enjoying, each in our own way, our trip. Tonight, my Dear Sister arrives to join us. Tomorrow, we embark on the next phase of our adventure...