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An Easter Blog on Maundy Thursday

An Easter Blog on Maundy Thursday

Springing Forward

The weather is dull and blustery on this first Sunday of British Summer Time. I hope that the forecast for sunshine and warmth in a couple of days is accurate.

Today’s blog mentions some other Royal Parks where our stories link up. All the Royal Parks have Friends’ groups and the chairs and I have met together with Royal Parks senior staff, on a regular basis for years. For the last year this has been c/o Teams. But the interesting thing is that we have all been in touch with each more than we did in “normal” times sharing ideas, many of which involve how best to keep in touch with you all, and this has been invaluable.

Red Sky at Night

I make no apologies for repeating a sunset photo in this blog. In my last blog it was an amazing sky over the Albert Memorial. After a long spell of spectacular evening skies, I am including one more photo but from a different point of view which might give you a second or twos pause for thought.

A Little Help Needed
Subtly, and with careful planning, the parks’ teams have been supporting our wild life. Against intruding, although possibly kindly meant, behaviour from human beings and less than helpful interest from dogs, there are some new things to look out for.

At the Italian Gardens you can see a small pop-up island which seems to have just appeared. It is a perfectly reformed swan island. The first one had finally collapsed back into the water last year. The swans used to nest on the grassy banks next to the Longwater until people spotted them and some decided to climb the railings for a closer look. Unsurprisingly, the whole swan family house and family building exercise regularly failed. The Island, as soon as it was created, was successfully used and has now been rebuilt.

Interest is already being shown in this des res by a couple of cygnets but probably they won’t be able to hang on to their tenure for long, the dominant males are sure to move in. I had no idea that the parks’ water was home to such a wide variety of fish….. bream, carp, perch, pike, rudd, roach and there might be crucian carp and possibly tench.

Their peril comes from the air above.

Hang over the parapet on the north end of the Serpentine Bridge on the Hyde Park side and just under water you will see a series of metal cages recently restuffed with brash from the coppicing work in the Long Water enclosure. These fish refuges provide shelter and although as hundreds of tiny fish emerge in the spring, and masses get snaffled by heron, there are always a few which survive.

The Egyptian geese and their goslings are enjoying the areas round the Diana memorial fountain garden in Hyde Park and the grassy lawn around the Henry Moore statue in Kensington Gardens as these are both closed off (the first only temporarily) and provide a safe haven. It’s not so good for this family photographed by the Serpentine bridge on the hard surfaced footpath and kerbside edge to the water. The northern edge of the Serpentine is a long border with no rushes, reed beds or any other cover to protect from people and dogs.

Curvaceous Kiosks

While you are in this area the kiosk at the Triangle car park continues to provide great coffee and snacks.

The kiosks are made from British steamed bent wood by designer Tom Raffield and made a welcome appearance a couple of years ago. Apart from this one there are two more, at Hyde Park Corner and at the Knightsbridge Barracks playground. There are more in The Green Park and St James’s Park.

The new kid on the block has just burst onto the scene in a glorious blaze of gold in St James’s Park close to Buckingham Palace, at the north end of the lake. It is the same design but made of brass so the gold will eventually settle to green. Its gold reflects the gold of the Victoria statue and the Palace gates and is worth a walk to go a little further to admire it in its new state.

Moving round the Park

New readers start here. For longstanding members since 2019, this will be familiar territory.

Many of you returned questionnaires about the Movement Strategy during rounds of consultations. The aim has been to focus on stopping park roads being used as commuting traffic cut throughs and to reclaim as much space as possible for use as a park. Five Royal Parks are involved with eight changes. Three roads have been closed in Richmond Park and on the main Chestnut Avenue crossing Bushy Park, the middle section has been closed. The result is an 800 yard stretch reclaimed for children to learn to ride bikes, roller skate and scooter.

The proposal for Hyde Park is the permanent closure of North Carriage Drive and the weekend closure of South Carriage Drive to through traffic. This latter is rather academic since, in the first lock down, TfL installed a cycle way along Park Lane which runs straight across the Queen Elizabeth gates which have been unable to open safely since.

Across the five Parks there were 18,000 responses to the consultations:
Hyde Park returned 75% in favour of the permanent closure of North Carriage Drive and 74% in favour of South Carriage Drive weekend closures. These have been trialled for the last 12 months. The Royal Parks board has resolved to continue the trials for another twelve months. I am disappointed that the decision for permanency wasn’t agreed at the last board meeting.

Easter

The long holiday is almost upon us and as we are still not allowed to go anywhere, the parks are expected to be busier than ever. Hyde Park manager Jason Taylor, is pleased to have been allowed one extra member of staff for the period to help cope with the anticipated massive clean-up. Every weekend in this lockdown both parks have been packed and it has been difficult to manage the rubbish left behind.

Money Money Money

With a catastrophic crash in the Royal Park’s income, all manner of new initiatives are being tried.

A “tap to donate” (£2 I believe) column has been installed in three places, the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens, the Knightsbridge playground and at Serenity close to the Lido in Hyde Park.

With no major fundraising activities and limited minor events only, Royal Parks budgets have had a hole blown in them.

Hedgerows North and South

Along Kensington Road the mixed native hedgerow planting has been successfully established.

At the moment, the blackthorn is covered in white blossom. Pink flowering hawthorn follows and then dog roses. To the north of Hyde Park, along the Bayswater Road and close to Victoria Gate, hedges have recently been laid. They need time to establish but hopefully will provide a green barrier between the Park and very busy road.

Meanwhile the formal showpiece bedding near the Rose Garden (Hyde Park) is really looking splendid, and I am being lobbied strongly by the magnolia enthusiasts who are very pleased with the profusion of flowering trees all over both Parks which seem to be looking especially good this year.

Hot Off The Press

More details for both will follow in another blog and by Mail to our non-email members.

Dates for your diaries:

Wednesday May 26th 5pm
Members Meeting c/o Zoom
Members only
Three special guest speakers have accepted our invitation to talk about all aspects of our parks.

Tuesday 29th June
Plant Sale in the super nursery in Hyde Park
Members only
This is a favourite date which lots of you have been looking forward to. Wonderful plants, surplus to the Parks’ needs, will be sold in aid of the Royal Parks charity. Timing and arrangements will be made to make sure there is safe distancing will follow.

More treats are in the pipeline and we are longing to get back to meeting you all again and for the first time our new members.

Have a happy Easter all of you.

Sue Price
Chairman

Photography thanks to Paul Shelley and A Friend

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