As I was writing my latest post on London as a site of architectural experimentation, I thought of a place where you can check out cutting-edge structures in the making.
The Serpentine Galleries, with an unbeatable location in the heart of Kensington Gardens, commission every year a temporary summer pavilion by an internationally renowned architect. This project started in 2000 with Zaha Hadid (who also designed the newly opened Sackler Gallery on the opposite side of the Serpentine lake).
This year the Serpentine Pavilion is one of the weirdest ever. Designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radić and open until the 19th of October, it is a donut-shaped structure resembling a shell – or maybe a prehistoric egg – or maybe a UFO – with a café inside.
The Serpentine Galleries are free and definitely worth a look if you find yourself in the area.
And while in Kensington Gardens, go and look for Peter Pan’s statue – less cutting-edge of course, but with the advantage of longevity: erected more than a century ago, it will outlive many more Serpentine Pavilions.
Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge
A recent survey has showed that the residents of wealthy Richmond upon Thames were among the happiest – if not the happiest – of England. This is hardly surprising: only a few miles away from London’s bustle, Richmond is a haven of peace.
Located on a meander of the River Thames, Richmond boasts a large number of parks and open spaces including one of England’s most famous greens (Richmond green).
Richmond Hill rises a few hundred meters south of the city centre. Though only 165 ft (50m) high, the view from its top has inspired such artists as J.M.W. Turner and Sir Joshua Reynolds and is one of the best-known on the Thames. You may find that the landscape has changed little since its depiction by these masters two hundred years ago.
To the south of Richmond Hill lies Richmond Park. Three times the size of Central Park in New York, it was originally a hunting reserve of king Charles I and is famous for the hundreds of deers it still hosts.
On Sundays, a stroll along the river Thames is a popular activity for families and lovers alike. Even if as a broke londoner, you may not afford to live in Richmond (after all, the council prides itself on being “a favourite retreat of Royalty, the rich and the famous”…), you might still wish to check out why Richmond’s inhabitants are so happy with their lot.
Tube station: Richmond
Posted in London for free, London landscape, parks and nature, Romantic, Uncategorized
Tagged best place to live in London, deers, nature, Richmond green, Richmond Hill, Richmond park, thames, Turner, view, walk
Being a londoner can be exhausting at times – and that is why, from time to time, you may feel the need to have a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
What about a trip to Bristol? It’s easy to spend a day there: a return ticket may cost you only £10 with the company Megabus! From Victoria coach station, the journey takes some 2h30. And Bristol’s main interests can easily fit in a day.
In the city centre, don’t miss the harbour, Bristol’s historic district with its gothic cathedral and medieval street, and Cabot tower, set on Brandon Hill, which offers panoramic views of the city.
And Bristol is world renowned street artist Banksy’s hometown: look out for his earlier works, hidden in the city streets…
Located in the heart of Regent’s Park, Queen Mary’s garden holds one of the finest collections of roses in the country and its access is free of charge.
Going to a rose garden in the middle of September may not have been my brightest idea, but the blooms of Queen Mary’s garden were still perfuming the air.
Nearest Tube Station: Baker Street
Walking in Mayfair, I was amazed to find these peaceful public gardens, which contrast with the bustle of the urban surroundings. Mount Street Gardens are quite small, but immaculately maintained and the numerous benches invite for a nice break under the plane trees’ shade. With Phoenix Garden, this small shaded green space is one of London’s nicest secret public gardens in central London.
Nearest tube stations: Green Park, Bond Street
With July’s warm days, I find myself looking for shade and fresh air in gardens, parks and green spaces of all kinds. An enchanting and often forgotten one of them is Kyoto Gardens. It is set in the heart of Holland Park, a calm and fine park welcoming pigeons and peacocks alike and located in one of London’s poshest neighbourhoods (see the post on Holland’s Park here).
The Park is named after Holland House, a mansion visited by Lord Byron and Disraeli in its finest hours at the end of the 19th century. Though no ghost can be found in the sterilised ruins, the new Japanese garden, inaugurated in 1991, is a haven of peace. With its pond and waterfall, stone lantern and small bridge, is a pleasant place to pause.
Nearest Tube Station: Holland Park