I remember the first time I spent some time in Hyde Park, in the summer of 2004, shortly after I had moved to London. We used to lie in the long grass, thick clouds of smoke hanging over our heads. Parrots were squawking in the trees above us, leading me to briefly think I had smoked the wrong cigarettes that day.
A little later, I gave up smoking of all sorts but still remained fond of Hyde Park. I practically lived next door, leaving no excuse not to pound the pathways in a pair of trainers and a piece of more or less flattering lycra.
The Serpentine Gallery became a regular fixture on my weekend walks and it still is. It is bite-sized culture (you’ll be in and out in 20 minutes max), thus making it bearable even with kids in tow. Also, it’s for free. Each year in summer, different artists create the Serpentine pavilion, a spot of walk-in outdoor art that’s even more exciting to explore with children.
I love the little café within Kensington Palace – much more relaxed and down to earth than the admittedly beautiful but slightly stiffer affair that is the Orangerie. At the moment, Winter Wonderland is on at the Hyde Park Corner end of the park, offering sugar roasted almonds and mulled wine, if you make it that far.
Ahhhhh, Hyde Park I love you.