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Happy New Year - Part 2

Happy New Year - Part 2

As promised, we are sending more bits of news and some colour to cheer you up.

Hard frost has returned with a vengeance, and with it some low sun. I suppose it’s too late now for me to plant those spring bulbs languishing in a paper bag?

We are grateful to member Dimity Spiller who has written for us on several occasions, and is an early bird visitor, for her January piece.


The hunt for winter colour in the Parks has become almost like an old ‘I Spy’ game.
Plenty more has appeared.
The Camellia Yule Tide is flowering already in the nursery, and is full of buds in the beds close to The Hyde Park Bandstand.

Edgeworthia, my Chinese vase yellow flowering favourite shrub, is a matter of a couple of weeks away and can be admired at the Albert Memorial, and also in the beds just mentioned in Hyde Park. At the moment, the frost has made it look as though it’s covered with tiny golf balls.

Cornus, those fiery red and orange branches of dogwood plus the acid green ones are showing in clumps in both Parks, and especially on the edge of the Princess Diana playground.

Reasons to be cheerful on a grey January morning

Dimity Spiller writes
Coming into the park before sunrise, the light is pearlescent and calming. After mid-January, the sunrise will get earlier but for now, hold onto the magic of being in the park in pre-dawn dark.
Our wonderful park staff who keep it all so beautiful, and make it available to us early birds
The glitter of a sharp frost or, better still, a new fall of snow increases the pleasure, while a low mist on the ground is so mysterious. Did I see Merlin disappear behind that tree?
For those who yearn for the Caribbean, there is always the potential for a bright blue sky tomorrow.
The architecture of trees is clearly seen, how contorted and bristly are some and how clean limbed are others.
Keeping a nose out for the scented shrubs is rewarded by the wintersweet, and the scented Viburnum amongst others. Next month, it’ll be the mimosa by the Old Police House.
And don’t forget the snowdrops.

Remember St Paul’s encouragement in Romans 15 that we should abound in Hope.

Congratulations are due

The King’s New Year Honours

The MVO (Member Victorian Order) has been awarded to:
Alun Mainwaring who is Head of events, filming and commercial development, and is based at the Old Police House. He worked tirelessly to deliver a wonderful celebration of the Queens Jubilee and was also very quick to tell me that it was a team effort.

He has always worked hard, consulting, liaising and involving the Friends in the delivery of all the programmes he works on. I think the jubilee arrangements involved dealing with countless more organisations. Congratulations from us all.

LVO (Lieutenant Victorian Order) has been awarded to: Mark Wasilewski. Mark is the manager of St James’s and The Green Parks, both of which were pivotal in the arrangements for the Queen’s Jubilee. Mark’s parks are always in the highest profile spot in national events.

Our member, Carol Seymour-Newton, has been made Life President of the Knightsbridge Association. She has worked tirelessly for that organisation for many years and deserves the accolade. She told me, when I congratulated her, that it sounded a bit daunting but I know she’ll continue to do a great job for the association.

Hyde Park Bandstand

As long-standing members will know, this structure is never far from our minds as it features so prominently in our year. We are already planning our bandstand concerts (only three dates available this year in August and September) and there will be more about these soon.

But while we have danced or relaxed, and tapped our toes to the music, have we paid attention to what is under our feet and on the ground in the whole area round the bandstand?

It’s a mixture of hard surfaces, some heaved by tree roots, and plenty of it in poor condition. A planning application (the bandstand is a listed structure) has been made to upgrade the hard surfaces and increase the grassy areas. We supported the application, and I’m glad to say that I have been notified that it has been granted.

Generosity from the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen

Welcome to new manager, Ismini Stefanidou, who has had an eleven year career with Benugo and comes to us from working for Benugo in several of the Royal Parks, as well as the South Kensington Museums.

As she only started in December, we have given her a short break before we rush in to photograph and interview her!

I met Gulshon Dadral (Benugo Operations and Account manager) a couple of weeks ago and he introduced us.

I am so grateful, on behalf of you all, to Gulsh and Ismini for offering our members an increase to our discount at SBK to 25% when you show your card. This will start on Feb 1st.

It applies to Serpentine Bar and Kitchen, not the other Benugo outlets at The Magazine or in the temporary Pavilion in the summer.

SBK is, I’ve found, extremely good for a big breakfast, the pizzas are excellent too, but not for breakfast.

Boys and Girls come out to play

Ryan Gill has joined the Kensington Gardens team and is the manager of the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground.

Our photographer and I had a fascinating hour there in the morning last week before it opens to the public, and Ryan was a wonderful guide. He comes from Hertfordshire where he was in charge of 60 green spaces and 40 playgrounds. Full of knowledge about play equipment, what’s new, what’s tired, what needs replacing, and also hopes for some important development and major refurbishment were mentioned. This playground, with its million visitors every year, gets well and truly hammered, and at peak times has a deli style queuing system.

You may have taken your own children or grandchildren. It’s not possible to go in without a child, so a visit in the witching hour before 10am is special if you haven’t been able to go recently, or ever.

I was impressed that the sound posts are all working (I have never heard them in action) and several other pieces of equipment are being adapted or improved.

Whatever happens, the galleon will always be a favourite.

Ryan has offered to give our members a tour in the 9am to 10 am slot, and we can finish with coffee and perhaps croissants to reward ourselves for the early(ish) start. I can promise it won’t be dull!

We will let you know when we have a date which will probably be in the early spring.

Glimmering Gas Lamps

Few members will not have heard about the decision in Westminster to upgrade or replace some of their gas lamps, and the strongly held views about this.

Hyde Park has a lot of gas lamps, and following our trustee, Will Gray’s, research and visit to the Westminster presentation by St James’s Station, we are now all looking keenly at some of our own lamps.

We will, of course, keep members up to date with any developments.

Sue Price

Paul Shelley
Rob Dowling
Sue Price

Sue Price