I was up early and decided to walk some of the way towards Kew Gardens from my Airbnb room in Lambeth.
I was walking along Grosvenor St beside the Thames when I heard a great clattering noise behind me.
About fifty horses out being exercised! It was both a magnificent sight and sound. All the more special because I was virtually alone on the street when they went past. I daresay this is a regular occurrence so if you want to see them try going to the spot at about 8:30 on a Sunday morning.
Alternatively, you could also hang out at Sloane Square, where I saw them again ten minutes later.
I caught the tube from Sloane Square to Kew Gardens and then had to wait a short while to get in. I was glad I’d bought my ticket online as I walked straight through when 10am rolled around and by then quite a queue had formed at the ticket window.
Kew Gardens are huge.
A whopping 326 acres in which there are a wide variety of themes gardens, artworks, wide avenues and, most famously, architecture.
The structure above is the Palm House, the largest Victorian glasshouse in the world. I imagine it would be a treat to step inside on a cold, winter’s day. On a stunning 24 degree English summer day it was far too hot and steamy. Still interesting though.
I wandered all over the gardens and admired it all. My favourite aspects would have to be the wide grassy avenues…
The walled gardens…
and the absolute highlight was the rose garden behind the Palm House.
Obviously it looked outstanding but the magic was the scent. So many roses so close together on a hot, windless day – the perfume just hung in the air like a heavenly cloud. I cannot, in words, express how delightful it was – you’ll just have to go see for yourself.
As I left the gardens (it took me 3.5 hours to see nearly everything) many more people were coming in. The parts of the gardens round the entrances and cafes were heaving with people but it was easy to get away from them by walking only a few hundred metres.
Next stop was the British Natural History Museum, a weird but wonderful hybrid of Victorian Gothic and fanciful Egyptian architecture. I don’t know who designed it but I can tell they had a great time.
I didn’t really have anything I wanted to see, I just thought I’d wander around. Apparently the other half of London (who weren’t at Kew) had thought the same thing.
Lucky it’s a huge building! I first had a look at a display of shells. It reminded me of a conversation I’d recently seen on Facebook about political correctness and insulting people effectively. If you want to be creative try one of these on for size:
I wouldn’t be pleased if someone called me a ‘three knobbled conch’! Baffle your enemies by letting them know they’re a…
‘Distaff spindle’! That’ll really leave them worried. Or how about a ‘distorted anus shell’?
There’s a lot to be learnt about self defence from our underwater friends.
All this was getting a bit HP Lovecraft so I went to have a look at rocks.
Now I’m hungry.
The pyramid of little sparkly stones shows all the colours diamonds come in. Not too impressive in a photo but very interesting in reality. Also many glow under uv light!
There was also an interesting display of taxidermied pheasants (interesting to me and no one else probably) and apart from that I just wandered about trying not to run into people or get frustrated at all the slow walkers.
Eventually I exited through the gift shop and walked home via a pub for dinner.
All in all a great day out! Here’s a few more photos of Kew to finish with.
Lovely in both the macro and the micro.