Posts Tagged ‘St. James Park’

Friday Photowalk With Ceres

Ceres, a good friend from college, is in town this week, and Friday afternoon, we had some time to hang out and go for a walk through the parks and to Horse Guards Parade, Parliament and Westminster Abbey. We took some fabulously campy, touristy photos, too. Yes, we were those people taking pictures with the Horse Guards. And Ceres garnered some hearty guffaws while taking a photo in a phone booth. I don’t know why the people were laughing so hard, though — the phone booths in Westminster are always full of tourists.

Cherry Blossoms at St James ParkHorse Guards Parade and St. James LakeHorse Guardphone boothParliament and Big Ben

My Fascination with Horse Guards Parade

Horse GuardThough the royal guards in front of Buckingham Palace can be interesting to watch — all their pacing and stomping and saluting can be quite dramatic — you never get all that close to the action. There are large gates, big crowds and a lot of distance between you. It’s not like in the movies where you can go up and mess with the guards next to their stations. Horse Guards Parade is more like the movies, but with horses and much stranger uniforms.

The guards have long red coats, boots they can barely walk in — their stomping and walking is much mor awkward than the other guards’ — and hats with what I’d describe as horse-haired scepters up top. Oh, and they also have big swords. That may be the best part. This building is right on a busy street and there are guards outside, with tourists close enough to trip over them, who have giant swords on their shoulders.

Also, many of the guards look really young — the one in the archway looked like he could still be in high school. His uniform seemed to big, and he didn’t seem to be terribly adept at standing still yet.

Horse GuardWe came to Horse Guards Parade through the archway from St. James Park. The building and guards originally served as the entrance to Buckingham Palace, but since the park and other streets near it are now open, it only serves a ceremonial purpose.

Still, seeing those big horses standing in their archways — with warnings that they can bite or kick you — is a bit imposing, though doesn’t seem to stop people from getting quite close and even putting their kids near the horses’ hoofs (see the photo). And the tourists here seem sillier than in other parts of the city, standing next to the mounted and unmounted guards and taking photos like the guards were inanimate objects, and cramming into the nearby phone booths to take photos.

Evan and I didn’t get into any photos with the guards. It just seemed a little weird. We’ll still gape and take photos, though.

Photo Walk: Green Park, St. James Park and Buckingham Palace

Evan and I started our sightseeing on Saturday with a walk through Green Park, stopping at Buckingham Palace before heading through St. James Park to the Horse Guards Parade.

Green Park

Green Park

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

St. James Park Lake

St. James Park Lake

Horse Guards Parade

Horse Guards Parade

Sketchbook: Horse Guards Parade from St. James Lake

To make up for my terribly inaccurate drawing of Horse Guards Parade from St. James Lake, I went back on Tuesday and drew it for real. From my spot, I couldn’t see the whole thing, and it was partially obscured by trees. And I also had a lot of people walking in front of me and stopping to take pictures of various attractions and feed the birds (though none so dramatically as on my last trip to the park), which was a bit frustrating. I also think I need to buy a new pencil sharpener. Mine seems to have stopped working.

In any case, enough with the excuses. Here is the much more accurate drawing, though it could still use some work. And definitely the touch of a better-sharpened pencil. Oh, and it was cold when I was drawing, too.

Horse Guards Parade and St. James Lake

Run in St. James Park: Wildlife Edition

birdsOn Wednesday, I went running in St. James Park and Green Park again. To switch things up from Monday’s run, I tried running around the lake in a counterclockwise direction. Clockwise definitely has better views, though this proved to be a much more interesting people-watching and wildlife-viewing run. What did I run across?

  • I ran by a man who had two ferrets on leashes, which is always pretty funny and not something I’d really seen other than in Along Came Polly. One was albino. He was letting people pet them.
  • I saw a woman holding food out on her hand and letting pigeons perch on her while having a bite to eat. A little gross, in my opinion.
  • There was a man with a pigeon on his shoulder — on his shoulder! right next to his face! — and he was keeping it content with treats. A lot gross, in my opinion.
  • Another man was feeding squirrels, but not by tossing food at them. Not even by bending down and letting them eat out of his hand. No, he was letting them jump up his leg and eat while hanging on there. I saw one leap up. The guy didn’t even flinch.
  • St. James lake also seems to have quite a few one-legged birds, which were a bit sad. Though I think they have a pretty cushy life with lots of food being thrown their way.
  • And there were pelicans, which I’ve of course seen before, but are neat and big, and I didn’t see any when I went running on Monday, though there were signs saying not to feed them.

Do these sound like sketch ideas? Probably! Or maybe next time I’ll take a camera or at least my cell phone on my run, though I do like keeping things light. Time for a cell phone mp3 player? They’re selling iPhones here now…

A Run in St. James Park and Green Park

Horse Guards Parade and St. James LakeToday, I went for another run — this time in the other nearby parks, St. James Park and Green Park, which are adjacent to Buckingham Palace. I thought Hyde Park was great on my Saturday run, but St. James Park turned out to be a real treat.I entered Green Park off Piccadilly Street and jogged pretty close to straight through until I saw something interesting. There were fancy gates, a giant statue with the top figure in gold and lo and behold, Buckingham Palace itself, a rather unassuming and monochrome building, though it has a commanding presence. I almost forgot it was so close! I took a moment to gape, but jogged on, entering St. James Park at the top of its lake.

I jogged down the lake, watching the ducks, swans, geese and pigeons play on the grass and in the water that was flanked by delicate weeping willows blowing in the breeze. And I started to realize I could see just about every major London monument right from the center of the park.

I saw some of Parliament and Westminster Abbey off in the distance. I could see the London Eye as well, and there was a gorgeous view of the Horse Guards Parade, which is a much more fanciful building than the palace. I stopped for a moment to read a plaque about the Horse Guards Parade at the end of the lake, and continued back up its other side amid people feeding pigeons and squirrels out of their hands (I’m pretty sure they’re not allowed to do that, though).

Running in St. James ParkI stopped to check out the view from of the palace from the bridge over the lake, though once again I felt that the Horse Guards view was nicer, and jogged up to the palace and took a weaving way back through Green Park’s small, rolling hills, which make the park feel very private and quiet, despite its proximity to busy Piccadilly.

After I was done, I treated myself to some juice from Crussh on Curzon Street and relaxed in the juice bar/cafe while drawing a few memories from my run, including the view of the Horse Guards Parade from the bridge and my hat blowing off — that actually happened twice on the run, though it didn’t get too far away from me. I’ll post the sketches soon — probably tomorrow.

Update (1/18/08): Sorry for the delay in posting the images. Also, I’d like to note that the Horse Guards drawing was from memory and bears little resemblance to the actual building. Still thought you might enjoy, though.