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In the Park - Storm Eunice and A Member's Winter Walk

In the Park - Storm Eunice and A Member's Winter Walk

At the beginning of the week we were telling potential guests, “It looks as though it’s going to be windy weekend.” By Wednesday I was told “there are going to be strong gusts on Friday and we are going to have to close the playgrounds.” The next day the decision was made to close all the the Royal Parks on Friday at least until the wind dropped. In the event, after a magnificent operation and a lot of very hard work by members of staff, they reopened around 10am on Saturday, but with some areas closed off where over hanging branches might have posed a risk.

All our managers, Andy Williams in Kensington Gardens, Jason Taylor in Hyde Park and Nursery manager Rob Dowling in Green Park were very busy indeed and the gardeners and OCS teams did a magnificent job from very early in the morning to enable them to reopen when they did. Members of the public who climbed in and ignored requests were very annoying.

Sadly for Richmond Park they lost a number of their significant trees, veterans and notable for their biological make up.

Over all, around 150 trees were lost across the Parks compared with 4,500 in the Great Storm of 1987.

Now read on…
Jason from Hyde Park reported

  • Three trees down at the back of New Lodge in the meadows
  • Two others down in the woodland surrounding the nursery (not significant trees)
  • About 30 boats broke free of their moorings on the Island and ended up by the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen at the end of the lake. They were retrieved on Saturday morning
  • Cycle paths and roads were covered with brash and this was cleared before the park opened on Saturday morning
  • Large amounts of brash was cleared from all over the park by Monday

    Andy from Kensington Gardens reported

  • Broken fence panels to the rear of the orchard in the allotment
  • Collapsed fence panels in the boundary with Euro car parks by Orme Square Gate
  • A couple of benches and bins thrown by the wind but undamaged
  • 6 trees completely thrown (Mountain AshX2, Oak, Cherry, Norway Maple and Lombardy Poplar)
  • 2 trees with significant damage (Oak and Pine)
  • Massaria and dead wood thrown from canopies across the park

Our thanks go to them and all of their teams for working so hard to clear up and make the Parks ready for weekend visitors.

Returning the Parade Ground to a Green Sward
Immediately Winter Wonderland (WW) left in early January, specialist company Talbot Farm, funded by WW, were back on site and using state of the art equipment to reinstate the Parade ground to beautiful condition.

There is a difference this year as they decided to work from the north to the south. The north is a difficult, swampy area as there is very little soil between the surface and the roof of the Park Lane underground car park with practically no drainage built in. However, the weather has been very favourable (for grass) and with no extended frost, snow or floods to slow things down the grass there is looking wonderful already. They want to give it a little more time to build up strength before this area is reopened to thousands of feet. The Parade Ground is fenced off in plots with three north/south paths and four east west paths remaining open.

The most fascinating thing to watch is the equipment used to do the work. A fat tyred tractor unrolls turf in enormous lengths like carpet and when it reaches the fence, a man with a handy saw cuts it off. The contraption with the carpet lifts up for the big turn and then lowers and carries on carpet/turf laying.

I do worry about the dreaded 20th April when up to 20,000 show up to smoke cannabis, drink and use drugs on just this spot, leaving tons of waste and the next day the area has to be pristine for the gun salute for the Queens Birthday. Of course none of this is official, there is no permission and it’s not acceptable to anyone. Enjoy the grass when it’s at its best between reopening and the dreaded event.

A Return of Music to the Hyde Park bandstand
There’s been a two year gap between our last season in summer 2019 of concerts in August. This summer we are planning more and we have an exciting and longer series this time.

We are so pleased to announce that, thanks to September being available for us to use the bandstand, we are funding two concerts in August and two in September, so do make a note in your diaries as we need all the support we can get.

Sunday Aug 7th South London Jazz Orchestra
Sunday Aug 21st The Melodians (Steel band)
SATURDAY Sep 10th Orquesto Mambarito (South American Salsa band)
Sunday Sep 18th Snowdown Colliery Welfare Band (traditional brass band)

All the concerts take place in the afternoon and lots more details will follow.

  • Very Generous Friends*
    We are extremely grateful for a very generous donation from the volunteers who have run the information kiosk at Hyde Park Corner. After a long break they are back in position answering questions although they tell me tourist numbers are not yet back to normal. They work in quite difficult circumstances and this is under review. In the meantime they have made a donation which they would like to go to fund one of our concerts (see above) and as we pay for these for the Park, a donation like this is very helpful indeed.

Spring cleaning in Kensington Gardens

Early one morning we came across Luke steam cleaning the Henry Moore Arch. Clouds of steam looked great in the early morning sun, which was Paul’s dream, and although it looked simple the amount of kit just out of the shot was impressive. The noise of the pumps and activity meant that this area, normally so busy with every kind of goose and duck milling about, was all clear of its usual occupants.

My own treat (to myself) at the end of all this writing is this photo of Iris growing in the grass close to the small Cavalry Memorial on South Carriage Drive, built to remember the men and horses who were murdered and injured in an IRA bombing attack. The flowers, now becoming more established and spreading in this natural spot, are a lovely addition to this quite quiet place.

Nicola Macfarland, a member, has written (below) about her regular walk round both Parks on a windy January day. She has found a lot to look out for on her impressive circuit. Many thanks to her.

Sue Price
March 5th

Photography by
John Foldes
Paul Shelley
Sue Price

A Winter Walk in the Parks

The number 23 bus set me down at Palace Gate and as I entered Kensington Gardens an enticing smell of bacon bap wafted over. However, breakfast not long ago I resolutely walk past. The sun is slanting bravely through the trees from a mottled sky, a mixture of blue with menacing dark clouds racing around, no doubt warnings from Storm Malik in the north. Victoria, on her throne up the hill by the palace, looks imperious and commanding, her statue starkly white against the glowering Winter sky.

A large group of roller skiers are assembled waiting for the instruction to start. It’s a colourful scene, bright jackets and elegant roller blades with edges of yellow hazard streaks. The skiers are of all ages even some “of a certain age” which surprises me as it looks such an exhausting sport and here without the snow to make the passage easier. They are off, some with sticks to help and some moving like skaters.

I reach the Round Pond, the ducks bobbing up and down on the choppy waves, and on the far side of the water a flock of white swans appear to be having a meeting. I take the path towards Temple Gate; the weather is getting better all the time. A pitch for rugby is laid out, white cones marking the boundaries. I watch one of only three small boys score a try; a second boy bringing him down but not before the ball has met the touchline. “Well done, Otto” shouts the coach, blowing his whistle loudly.

Now the low sun is almost blinding me, I can only just see the gold of Albert’s memorial statue if I shade my eyes with my hand. I leave Kensington Gardens at Temple Gate where I stop to take a photograph of an old oak tree with a massive trunk distorted into a monster shape.

I cross the road into Hyde Park, dodging cyclists and horse riders and head down to the Serpentine. Diana’s fountain tumbles through its narrow canals, even forming white horses, their froth illuminated in the sun.

The bullrushes by the water wave majestically in the wind. No-one is swimming and the blue row boats on the far side are tied up firmly; the wind sweeping the water in waves towards the Serpentine café. I walk, on passing families out for a stroll and children looking at the ducks and geese. I reach the far end and just before the café I see my first snowdrops, a large clump nodding their little white heads.
I cross the track avoiding stray roller skiers and take the path towards Bayswater passing the cordoned off area where Winter Wonderland has wreaked havoc with the grass. I stride on, sometimes almost brought to a standstill by the ever-increasing wind. Now I can move more easily as I am going downhill, and the wind is behind me. The sun is shining through the trees. Sometimes I think the trees look better without their leaves, but then when I see them in all their glory in the Summer, they are even more beautiful. Old brown leaves from last year hurtle along the ground in a bemused and chaotic manner.

I leave Hyde Park and crossing the road, enter back into Kensington Gardens. I am now approaching the Italian Fountains and I am pleasantly surprised to spot a few early daffodils, splashes of yellow in the Winter flower bed, making me think Spring is round the corner, but it’s still only January. I shall have a coffee here; this café is my favourite; its always bathed in sun and I sit on a bench sipping my cappuccino and look at the view, the fountains seem ethereal as the spray catches the sun.

I take the path towards the palace; I can see the spire of St Mary Abbots silhouetted in the far distance. On my left a class of aerobics is under way. A few yards further on and I strike off to my left; I must go and visit my favourite statue Physical Energy by George Frederick Watts.

If I look down towards the Long Water and on the north side, I can see the The Arch, the imposing sculpture by Henry Moore. It stands in a wonderful position, equally stunning from both sides. I continue, now walking towards the Palace, several games of football with little goal nets and teams of children playing enthusiastically, parents standing watching and encouraging. I notice quite a few trees cut down, lying on their sides and wonder what happens to the wood. Some are left standing like totem poles and I think of my friend, Giles, who earned a living by doing the most intricate carvings on similar trees making them works of art.