Daddy and I took you on your 3rd Adventure Walk through Kensington Gardens this past Saturday after trying to get into Wimbledon (for our 2nd time). We woke up extra early to find out the queue was 9+ hours long. After all three of us relaxed, took a nap and were a little productive we headed out on this next adventure. I feel blessed having you as my travel buddy while I explore London. I only wish you were a little older so you could remember our adventures. Hopefully you will love reading these stories with me in a few years. Enjoy.
Walk #17: Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens"The Adventure- Explore Kensington Gardens with one of the most enchanting children's characters, Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up. The author, J.M. Barrie, lived just across the road and walked here daily with his St. Bernard dog, Porthos. It was on one of these strolls, in 1897, that Barrie met two of the Llewellyn Davies brothers, George, aged four, and his brother, Jack, aged three. This was the start of a life-long friendship and the inspiration for Barrie's stories. The admiration was mutual. To young George, Barrie seemed 'singularly well informed on the subject of cricket, fairies, murderers, pirates, hangings, desert islands and verbs that take the dative.'
Discover your own Neverland in a world of make-beleive games at Kensington Gardens, the ideal place to let any lost boy's, Peter Pan-sh children with 111 hectares/275 acres to run wild in and thousands of trees to hid behind. As well as your bows and arrows, a model boat, and a copy of Peter Pan, take along your swimming things because, in the summer, you can plunge into the Serpentine for a swim."
Exit Queensway station, cross over Bayswater Road and enter the park through Black Lion Gate. On the right is the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial playground (which we will visit later). Look out for the elfin oak, a gnarled and partially hollow stump, carved with fairies, elves, and animals."
(Oops...we skipped this step became we walked to Kensington Garden from home so we entered from the south side.)
"Stroll along the wide avenue of the Broad Walk, the main thoroughfare of the Gardens passing between Kensington Palace and the Round Pond. This is where, in the days when the Darling family were growing up, children would be pushed in perambulators by their nurses. The Darlings' nurse was a dog called Nana, whom they first met in Kensington Gardens. She was a Newfoundland whose character was based on Barrie's own dog. In the story of Peter Pan if you fell out of your perambulator and weren't claimed for seven days you would be sent to Neverland and became a Lost Boy. Peter Pan was the Lost Boys' Captain."
Round Pond"On your right is Kensington Palace, which has been a royal residence since the seventeenth century. Queen Victoria was born in Kensington Palace and lived there until she moved to Buckingham Palace in 1837. It was Princess Diana's home from her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981 until she died in 1997. It is worth a look round, especially Queen Victoria's bedroom. In Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens the Queen of the Fairies lived here all alone with only lots of dolls for company. She was rather spoilt."
By the time we walked up to the palace, we had just missed the last admission into the exhibit by 5 minutes. However, we were excited to see this fairy tale wedding as we continued our walk...
"Continue along the Broad Walk, and down a gentle slope towards a mound. In the autumn, this is a good place to try and catch falling leaves. Alternatively, you could collect some leaves to take home and make a costume like the one Tinkerbell wore when she first visited the Darling children in their nursery, 'exquisitely gowned in a skeleton leaf.' You might need more than one leaf. "
Grace, I promise if you were a couple years older than I would have collected leaves with you. I decided to read this story to you instead. I love how you humor me by listening attentively (or at least looking like you do).
"Do be careful not to fall in Round Pond- there won't be any ticking crocodiles but you might meet a three- spined stickleback, a roach, a gudgeon or some eels."
"Before you reach Palace Gate, leading out on to Kensington Gore, take the penultimate path on the left along Flower Walk. Take the second left at the finger post, towards the Round Pond."
This was our picnic spot for the day. I decided to be the obnoxious person who fed the birds the rest of her bread. This was nothing compared to the rest of the birds who quickly joined the meal. Michelle, this would be the part where you would freak out!!! Michael was a little flustered. I swear he slowly started backing up the pram.
"Walk away from the pond with Kensington Palace behind you and the horse and rider, the statue of Physical Energy, directly in front. The grass here has been allowed to grow long to improve the habitat for birds, bees and wild flowers, which you can expect to see in the spring and summer. This is also a good spot for a picnic and some storytelling. Peter Pan was very fond of stories, particularly stories about himself. It was Wendy's boast that she had some good stories to tell the Lost Boys that made Peter decide to take the Darling children with him to Neverland. Why don't you make a miniature Wendy house with sticks, grass and leaves?"
"At the six-way junction by the statue, look over to your right and you will see in the distance the gleaming golden splendor of the Albert Memorial, built to commemorate Queen Victoria's beloved husband. From here, with the Long Water ahead, make your own path through the trees in the direction of Queen Caroline's Temple. Walk past it towards a tarmac path which clings to the side of the water.""When you reach the water turn right and walk under the Serpentine Bridge towards the Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain and the Lido, venue for the 2012 Olympic triathlon and open water swimming events and your chance for a swim. In the summer, when the pool is open to the public, the average temperature is 20 degrees Celsius. For the annual Peter Pan Christmas Day Race, for which J.M. Barrie donated a cup, it is probably freezing. You are now officially in Hyde Park, the site of several national celebrations including the 1851 Great Exhibition and in 1977 the Queen's Silver Jubilee Exhibition."
The day Princess Diana died was one of those days (31 August 1997) I will always remember. I was at Christina Guzik's birthday sleepover eating pizza in her basement when her parents called us upstairs to watch the news with them.
I don't want to grow up...I'm a Toys R US kid...
"The lake was created in 1728 by Queen Caroline, wife of George II, who was also responsible for creating Kensington Gardens, which were opened, on Saturdays only, to the public (you had to be 'respectably dressed'). The most important thing to look for is the island far away up the lake to the right, probably the inspiration for Neverland, where Peter Pan takes Wendy, John and Michael once they have learned to fly. Can you see any smoke from the redskins' bonfire on the horizon?
In the real world, this island is a bird sanctuary: some unusual species have been spotted. Do report any unusual sightings to the park-keeper, as bird records for Kensington Gardens go back more than a hundred years. The lake also attracts a large number of insects that provide a perfect feeding ground for bats, which you can see at dusk.""Turn around , head back under the bridge and walk along the edge of Long Water until you reach the bronze Peter Pan statue on the left. This was meant to be modeled on Michael Llewelyn Davies but the sculptor chose another child and Barrie was quite unhappy about it."
"Walk towards the Italianate gardens and fountains up ahead. Listen out for the tap, tap, tap of the green woodpeckers that nest in the gardens."
"Turn left before you get to the gate and walk all the way back up to the Diana Memorial Playground."
"Be ready for combat against a ship full of pirates and Captain Hook! Once he is safely in the jaws of the crocodile you can sail home."
Exit by Black Lion Gate, cross over, turn right and walk down to the corner of Bayswater and Leinster Terrace to see the plaque on J.M. Barrie's house. Then head back up Bayswater to Queensway and home for tea of fairy cakes coated with a healthy sprinkling of fairy dust.
(Oops! I think Daddy and I were anxious to get back home. We not only skipped this last part, but I never even read it until just now. Note to self: work on getting better at following directions. okay, reading directions.)