14 March 2013

Walking through St James's Park

One of the nicest things about working in Victoria again, as opposed to a business park outside of Cardiff, is that there are places to go and things to do at lunchtime. Walking through St. James's Park is one of these.

The Park is mostly grass with sporadic trees which makes it ideal for sitting in when the weather is good.

In the bleaker times of the year, like now, then the lake comes in to its own as it provides a focus and an obvious route for a fresh-air capturing walk, even if that walking pace has to be moderated by the number of foreign students who litter the park.

The weather is just starting to turn, Spring has sprung after all, and some of the planted beds are starting to reveal their colour. These formal beds are on the edge of the park, facing Birdcage Walk, leaving the centre to be more natural.

And nothing could be more natural than a pelican.

On all my previous visits to the Park the pelicans have kept to their sanctuary in the centre of the lake so it was a pleasant surprise to see one on the mainland and totally unconcerned by the tourists walk past just a couple of metres away.

For some reason most of them seemed more interested in taking pictures of the squirrels and pigeons. Perhaps they all had pelicans as pets at home.

A lone bridge crosses the lake more or less in the centre. The bridge is of little interest itself and it justifies its existence from the views that it offers of the Y-shaped lake. The Y has a long stem and a narrow body so walking along the side there is a short view to the other bank but from the bridge there are long views in both directions along the length of the Y.

Buckingham Palace sits at the base of the Y. The view towards it is interrupted by a small island at the end that is covered with trees.

I am not a fan of Buckingham Palace, I never look at it as I walk past and I have no plans to ever go there, but I do appreciate how it sits in this landscape. Its height and colour make it a fitting backdrop for that end of the lake. The view to it along The Mall impresses me less.

Looking east towards the top of the Y is a far more rewarding experience. The buildings in Horse Guards Road are closer to the lake and seem to climb on top of each other desperate for a better view. The lake is more interesting too with some trees along the water's edge and more trees on the pelican sanctuary that lies between the two sections of the top of the Y.

The little fountain is a nice feature too. It does just enough to be interesting and not too much to draw attention away from the rest of the Park.

The seagull was just a bonus. I cursed it for daring to intrude when I took the photo and I took another one immediately afterwards without it. On reflection I prefer the one with it in so that's the one that you get to see.

Easing off the zoom a little shows the shape of the lake with one part of the Y heading towards Horse Guards Parade and the other to the EDF Energy London Eye (to give it its full name).

The other plus of the bridge is that it provides alternative routes of alternative distances around the park.

On this day I made a figure S doing half of the lake on the south side and then crossing to the north before leaving the park in the south-west corner.

St James's Park is little more than 500m long and about half that wide so its only takes 15 minutes or so to walk all the way around it briskly, though an allowance has to be made for getting past other people and pausing to take photographs. That makes it a nice place to include in a lunchtime stroll that also has to include one of the local sandwich shops.

Having places like St James's Park on the doorstep gives me a reason to get out at lunchtimes and I am extremely grateful for that.

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