So, been here for a few weeks now and seen and done a lot but today I want to focus on and interesting tidbit about the British. They are kinda obsessed with their gardens. The residential areas all have houses with rectangular patches of grass and some trees and they seem to take great pride in maintaining their little patches of Eden. According to my host dad, the Easter holiday is one of he biggest weekends for DIY (Do it yourself) activities so everyone hits up the British equivalent of Home Depot and Lowes and has a garden party or redoes the house or whatever. 25% of London is greenspace and parks. The parks are enourmous and gorgeous. Hyde park is full of bicyclists and people on horseback alongside joggers and soccer players. It even has a huge lake brimming with paddle boaters and swans bobbing about everywhere majestically. Amongst all this are giant monuments to war victims and tube bombing victims from 2005. Funny little metaphor for life, right? It’s not all a walk in the park. Yet, there are these giant reminders of the horrors of life and everybody is going about life around it, eating ice cream in some instances. Just kind of interesting. Regents Park was also gorgeous. It was perfectly manicured with lots of fountains and flowers and friendly squirrels. The London Zoo is nearby and it’s a great little outing on a sunny day. I really love emerging from the bowels of the city after long commutes on the Tube (still minding the gap) to the beauty of London’s parks.
I also got to check out Hampton Court. It was built by Cardinal Wolsey for Henry the Vlll. The gardens are spectacular. And they have actors in costume wandering the premises. It was the first building in Britain with indoor plumbing and running water.
Stourhead was another stop along the way back after Stonehenge (which rocks), and here the architect was trying to improve upon nature. The place looks as if it could have been naturally done but better. Take that nature. The artistic style was the picturesque. The buildings there include the Temple of Apollo (was used in Pride and Prejudice filming) and the temple of Flora. You have to hike through some trails around this giant mansion where Henry Hoare lived and as you come to certain specific points, you see the temples emerge, perfectly framed in the trees and landscape. It is breathtaking. The buildings are only visible from specific vantage points. It’s incredibly well planned but looks almost like a natural accident. The river and bridges and the manmade caves were a ton of fun to walk through as well. The royals and wealthy sure did like to improve upon nature. Though, despite all the planning and control, I wonder if any of them ever strolled through their gardens and saw a dying flower and questioned their own lack of control over their own fates.
Stonehenge and Avebury were just a reminder that our species has always loved creating and doing impossible feats together. Stonehenge is a giant solar calendar and Avebury is a place for fertility rituals. Supposedly, virgins were sacrificed there (glad that fad passed).
The break is fast approaching and I will try to do another post before heading out on my Scottland adventure. I will try to talk about the plays I’ve been seeing here. It’s been good fun.
Ciao for now!