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Spring has Sprung: March Spring Strolls In

Spring has Sprung: March Spring Strolls In


All through the winter we’ve been waiting for this it seems.

The glorious results of massive bulb planting exercises are now there to be enjoyed across both parks.

Some planting was the result of hard work by volunteers on the corporate volunteering programme and hundreds of schoolchildren, other areas were planted by a specially designed tractor which visits to lay swathes of bulbs. Around Hyde Park Corner, cameras have been busy, the plain lawns there have been full of crocuses.

Safe Havens

It’s a busy life for the waterfowl in Kensington Gardens and, unfortunately, some of this is down to harassing dogs who have careless owners ignoring all signage. The dogs can’t read. Loafing areas have been created (that’s its official name and I love it) in Kensington Gardens.

A couple of years ago on the Long Water by the Henry Moore sculpture, an off-shore shingle beach was created for birds to relax and just loaf out of dog’s and, hopefully, foxes reach. It was an immediate success, and can be clearly seen from the Serpentine Bridge.

Last week, a loafing area has been created and finished in the Round Pond. It’s maddening to see owners throwing balls and branches into the Round Pond for their dogs to fetch. But good to see that the birds have somewhere to go, apart from the hard surfaces round the edge of the water.

Can you read?

In Kensington Gardens, the worn-out signage giving cyclists a clear message, has been replaced with strikingly white lettering.

Not one off-piste cyclist could claim they hadn’t noticed it, could they? There are also warning slabs set into the ground, notices on posts, and also on every gate or railings at all entrances.

I think we should congratulate and thank the team at Kensington Gardens for this level of clear instruction. It only needs people to comply with what I think is very clear.

Keeping fit in the parks

Two members contacted us, contributed these pieces and included photos. They are an impressive bunch who would like some more of you to join them.

A few enthusiasms about Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens

Over 22 years ago I started a relationship with Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens. I joined the Serpentine Running Club when I was 60 having previously ‘retired’ from running when I was 25. I made many friends and started loving running again. Going ‘off piste’ in the Park was my great love. Running became magic! In fact, among the plaques surrounding the Serenity sculpture located on the south of the lake is one which reads: ‘Running is Magic SID WILLS

Most Saturdays and Wednesdays I work in the Parks with runners. During the lockdown the Park was even more important, providing a peaceful sanctuary for runners – and others. I was able to continue assisting ‘one to one’ with new runners. To me, the Parks have so many wonderful areas.

I am not the only Serpentine Running Club member who loves the Parks. Here are some comments from members:

_There are always different seasons and times of day which make it never boring. Lovely scenery round every corner and a beautiful lake and wildlife to observe with new paths to explore every time you visit. A beautiful space that caters for all

A tranquil and calming oasis amidst the bustle of the city. A visual and sensory experience that enhances running. You can enter Hyde Park with all the worries of life and within moments everything is ok.

I love running in one of the most beautiful Parks in London in the most vibrant way. Senses are elevated as one’s endorphins kick in! Running in Hyde Park can also be cleansing for the soul._

We run every Wednesday evening from Marble Arch and Saturday morning from Hyde Park Bandstand. We also have other regular events during the year. The range of abilities can spread from a very high level to those who only wish to mix running and walking.

For anyone interested in joining one of the Club’s ability groups contact Catharine on: member-liaison@serpentine.org.uk

Nordic Walking

With so much emphasis on older people getting enough exercise, walking in the park and gardens provides a great place to do this. Since 2013 the ‘Silverfit’ Nordic Walking group have been doing just that.

If you don’t know what Nordic walking is, it’s an enhancement of normal walking, using poles which improve stability, balance and posture, plus activating many more muscles.

‘SilverFit’ is a small charity, putting on weekly exercise events around London for the over 50’s. We meet at the Tennis Café, Park Sport (was Will-to-Win) and are still going strong 10 years later.

We get together once a week on Tuesday mornings, setting off at 11 for an hour’s Nordic walking. We have poles and offer instruction to newcomers and encourage everyone to chat and appreciate the changing scenery of the parks.

The session charge is £5 and goes towards the running of the charity. Most members stay for a drink and socialise at the café afterwards (and we have even added an occasional game of bowls).

We are keen to let regular park users know of our existence. If anyone wants a new challenge and to meet new friends we are here.

For more information click here to view our website

Boys and girls (we all wish we were) came out to play

On a sunny morning new manager, Ryan Gill, welcomed us at the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. Before this world famous playground opens to the public at 10am, and solitary adults are shown the door. we were able to have the treat of being taken round, told about all the exciting plans and what repairs Ryan has already got underway. We climbed and clambered over everything, squirmed through narrow holes to slide down to the ground and climbed rigging.

I clutched my brow and worried about our insurance. However, we all enjoyed coffee and cake together, unharmed, as an army of buggies swarmed in on the dot of 10am and we were gently thrown out to sit at the picnic tables outside.

Many thanks to Ryan for suggesting the event and entertaining us so well. He was so full of energy and enthusiasm, it left us pretty awestruck. We will look forward to the major plans as they are revealed and inform you all.

Caught short?

Nearly all visitors, on a longish visit to the parks, will need to use a toilet at some time or other. These are dotted around, run and maintained by different organisations, some of which are cafes and other businesses in the parks.

However, there are two toilet blocks in each of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens which are run by The Royal Parks (TRP).

These, I have found, are reliably clean and well maintained although I admit to not visiting when the parks are really very busy.
They cost 20p to use by a very slow and stately card reader (it costs TRP an awful lot more than this to maintain these particular blocks).

The two in Hyde Park are at the bandstand (admire the well planted flower bed while you are there) and The LookOut which is in the centre of the park, not far from Reformers Tree.

It has a wonderful sculpture on its front lawn by Polly Hope and Theo Crosby, and it’s worth a visit just to see it.

In Kensington Gardens, one is at the Marlborough Gate entrance right by the Italian Gardens Cafe. The other is undergoing a bit of refurbishment as the roof was leaking, and the new plasterwork in the ladies is damp and taking time to dry out. It’s just off West Carriage Drive, on a path to the back of the Albert Memorial. It’ll re-open soon.

I recommend all of these to you.

Dog walking friction

Since the pandemic, we know that there has been a great increase in dog ownership. A new pet in lockdown seemed a wonderful idea, and we were never going back to an office or an away-from-home work space, were we?

The result is a huge increase in the number of dog walkers, both commercial and owners, especially in Kensington Gardens, this has led to a big jump in the number of incidents reported to the police. There are reports of paid dog walkers with too many dogs, and some out of control. Although there are 10/12 licensed dog walkers who should display their arm bands clearly, there are many who are not.

Following our Safer Parks Panel meeting with the police, they are going to focus on policing this kind of offence, although it is particularly challenging. We have been asked to report every incident so that they can build up a picture of any pattern of offending, or even of particular dogs which they can only get from images. Anecdotal reports are insufficient.

In emergency it’s always 999, don’t be embarrassed that perhaps your incident is, or isn’t, an emergency especially if it’s ongoing.
Contact the police 101.
Park phone 0207 161 9631 (voicemail).

We are lucky, as Royal Parks go, that we have a considerable number of police stationed in Hyde Park and they can, if they know about an incident, get to it quickly.

STOP PRESS: Kensington Palace and the Orangery

The Orangery is very close to re-opening, initially as part of the exhibition space and then later for events and catering.

The Pavilion will remain open for catering for another year, and the whole palace with a new exhibition very soon.

The recently erected further fencing round the back of the Orangery has puzzled some members. It is there, with permission by a licence from TRP, and gives the builders space to refurb the original railings and fencing, and planting round the back of the building. When it comes down, all this area will be revealed, after a long project which had the very bad luck of being struck by a long close down over Covid and the financial blow which this brought with it.

Have a happy Easter Holiday.

Sue Price
March 31st

Paul Shelley
Rob Dowling
Phil Newcombe
Sue Price
Maxine Buchanan- Michaelson
Sid Wills