You’d think that I would have visited London at least once during my year living in England. It’s not a big country, after all, and rail travel is relatively cheap. It would make sense.
But I didn’t. Most of my English adventures were in the top half of the country. and I never went any further south than Hull—so I was super excited to visit England’s biggest metropolis.
Leslie and I flew into London late on Saturday night, so our first real taste of London came on Sunday morning, when we went to church in South Kensington.
LDS chapels don’t usually have replicas of Bertel Thorvaldsen’s iconic statue of Jesus Christ. They also don’t usually have visitors centers with interactive media about church history and beliefs, so this was a unique Sabbath experience indeed. We attended a large YSA ward with Becca, a good friend of mine who moved down to London from Newcastle, and we gladly accepted their invitation to join their munch and mingle after church. Free food when you’re traveling? Yes, please!
As it was the Sabbath, we wanted to fill the rest of our day with a Sunday-appropriate activity. Someone at church mentioned that Hyde Park was nearby, so after bidding farewell to Becca, we wandered over to take a nice walk. The weather was perfect for a stroll, and the whole of London seemed to be out enjoying the sunshine.
We entered the park by the Albert Memorial, a large monument commemorating the death of Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, in 1861. The many statues surrounding the monument represent his interests and different areas of the world. My favorites were the Americas statue, with its formidable bison, and the Asia statue and its elephant.
Hyde Park is a lovely park in the heart of London, reminiscent of Central Park in NYC. Except, NYC doesn’t have a royal family, and it doesn’t have a palace in the middle of the park. (Well, unless you consider Belvedere Castle a real palace…)
While we were admiring the lovely exterior of Kensington Palace, a helicopter rose up from behind it and flew away. Obviously, only important people can take helicopters in and out of a palace, so I’m 99.976% certain that one of the passengers was the Queen or Prince William or Kate Middleton. Definitely.
My faaaaaaaavorite part of Hyde Park was the wild parakeets.
Yep, you read that right: wild parakeets.
No one really knows how these rose-ringed parakeets first came to England, but sightings have been recorded since 1855. Estimates suggest as many as 50,000 parakeets live in England, ranging as far north as Manchester.
It was amazing to see them flying around in the trees in the middle of the city, and even more incredible to see them land on outstretched hands full of birdseed. Never before have I wished so strongly that I had a pocket full of feed. It was really lovely!
When the sun started to set, Leslie and I made our way back to Virginia Water, where we were staying with my dear friend Fernanda. Her flat is in a complex that used to be a sanitarium, which is totally insane.
*chuckle chuckle chuckle*
Read more about my trip with Leslie here.