03/27/2010 - 03/27/2010 6 °C
The sunny days have been few and far between over the last 5-6 weeks, so we have to, as they say, "make hay while the sun shines," even if it's just for 5 minutes! With that in mind, we decided to head off on this supposedly "clear" day (it was supposed to pour, and yet the sun was trying to poke out) to Abbey Road ... via Regent's Park.
Regent's Park (actually its proper name is "THE Regent's Park") has the dubious distinction of being just a nick outside of any Central London map, so getting there is a matter of hoping that "that street" or "this path" continues on even after it runs off the page! It's situated just north of the Marylebone-Mayfair district, nestled between Prince Albert Road and Albany Street.
Getting there meant our first trip to the Baker Street tube station and Baker Street--home to none other than Mr. Sherlock Holmes ... oh, and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, where I will never understand the endless lineups of tourists. I mean ... really?
No more than a couple of blocks later, we were at the entrance of Regent's Park:
The official website has this to say about Regent's Park:
"The Regent's Park is the largest grass area for sports in Central London and offers a wide variety of activities, as well as an Open Air Theatre, the London Zoo and many cafes and restaurants. Henry VIII appropriated The Regent's Park for use as a hunting ground, which he considered to be an invigorating ride from Whitehall Palace. At that time, the only boundaries were a ditch and a rampart. Were he here today, Henry would hardly recognise the stylish gardens and sports fields that now stand in its place."
Truly, even in winter, it is quite beautiful and inviting. Again, from the website: "The Park consists of formal gardens, shrubberies, sports pitches, rough grassland, a large lake with several reed beds and islands, a small, enclosed wood and a canal with embankments."
We entered at the York Gate, which is the perfect starting point for circumnavigating the park's centre lake through Clarence Bridge, Hanover Bridge, and finally, Longbridge. Along the way, there are SO MANY birds--in fact, there is a formal bird sanctuary in the central lake section of the park--as well as tons of pathways, ponds, trees, and benches.
We thoroughly enjoyed our walk:
One thing that's impossible to miss is the ridiculous number of birds' nests! My god, everywhere you turn, it's one massive nest after another, and if you look closely, you can see a few heads and beaks poking out:
Eventually, we made our way to Queen Mary's Gardens, home to about 400 different species of rose! Alas, being winter, we didn't get to see them in full bloom, but you can use your imagination. You know you're in a queen's garden any time you have to pass through some gold gates, eh?
Through the many rose trellises, you can see the Post Office Tower off in the distance (technically, the BT Telecom Tower, but many still refer to it by its old name):
On our way out of the park, we ran into a most curious little park restaurant. The Honest Sausage. Ahem. I'll have a "Park Porker," please.
Oh, and some giraffes. Seriously, just when you need to get somewhere? GIRAFFES!!
Oh, and a pretty canal.
It was around this time that we began to remark at how lucky we'd been all day to have the weather hold out so well. The forecast hadn't been positive, but in fact, the rain had held off, and we even got some sunshine here and there.
And then. On our way out of the park, cognizant of the time and our desire to reach Abbey Road before dark, we got that ... feeling. You know that one. *sniff* *sniff* Rain is on the way. What would it be first? Too dark, or too wet? We started to really hoof it.
And soon, there it was.
Now ... imagine this, if you will. Last summer, Abbey Road was near the top of my list of Things To Do And To See, and yet, I left London without even getting near it! Needless to say, it was at the top of my list this time. I know, I know ... Silly Little Tourist Girl. Indulge me. So, we finally get there. Sure, there's tons of tourists around. Sure, some of them are starting to take their shoes off as if they are Paul McCartney. Sure, there's about 1000 cars and no actual traffic light, so that sinking feeling that you may not be able to actually take a picture starts to creep in. But, you don't care. It's the Beatles, man. Abbey Road! Abbey House! Abbey Road Studios! The zebra crossing! A pelican crossing, no less! (For you Philistines, a "pelican crossing" is a zebra crossing with the two long, yellow-lighted poles on either side ... pppphhhhhhfffffffffttttt.) And then. Rain. Oh, and just for added shits and giggles, the battery in my camera ran out.
So, you know what that means. Run back and forth across the road like a crazy banshee, hoping to get at least ONE decent shot. Don't ask me what I'm doing in these shots. I don't know what the hell I was doing or thinking. Poor J. He was sweating harder than a hooker in church on Easter Sunday trying to get SOMETHING resembling ANYTHING.
My personal favourite is this one, where I finally get to be ALL ALONE in the crossing, with NO ONE ELSE--no people, no cars, no bicycles, no pets, no bare-footed Beatles Stalking Freaks--and yet I picked that moment (apparently) to audition for the next London stage production of Singing in the Rain.
What was that? About 12 shots? Um, yeah. I needed just one of him to make him look like a super-STAH!!
I'm not bitter.
Hey, maybe I wasn't able to achieve this:
But at least it wasn't THIS:
I consoled myself over the rain and my camera with a few shots of Abbey House and Abbey Road Studios. It was absolutely PISSING at this point. I probably have to get a new camera now!
For those who are interested, here's a great BBC link regarding Abbey Road's 40th anniversary (video embedded!).
Luckily, St. John's Wood tube station is just around the corner (why didn't we just start there earlier in the day?), where of course, it's important to make available to the public only the finest of souvenirs wedged into the tube station ticket booth:
Needless to say, we were spent. I won't lie. There was some bickering. Some words. Whatever. Oh, sure. "All You Need is Love" my fat ass. Sigh. I'm exhausted just recalling this day! But, hey, we got there, and it was all thanks to J and his Magellen-like navigational skills. YES, I KNOW YOU'RE GOOD AT READING MAPS, OK?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
Before I sign off on this one, let me say once more how much I love the theatre posters that adorn every tube station escalator. They make the journey--even when it's only 1 minute long from street level to train platform--so much more interesting: