Having gotten over the (mild) frustration of arriving in London, we were determined to make our first full day a success. We had planned on hanging out in the Kensington area for the day by taking in Hyde Park, Kensington Palace, and a few other sights if we had the time. We had all slept in so it was a late start, but just in case, we had loads of backup places to check out if it came to it.
Our first destination was the Princess Diana playground…yep, a playground…in the north western corner of Hyde Park which is a giant green space in front of Kensington Palace where some folks live. Its basically a massive front yard. We walked up, over, and around and got the kids all amped up for the playground…which by now you’d think we’d have learned not to do before hand…only to find it closed for renovation. Sniffing the aires of defeat, we quickly regrouped by getting tea and coffee and treats at the park’s accompanying food kiosk, conveniently NOT closed for renovation, and remembered that they are kids, and all they need to have fun is willing participation and leadership from their parents…a wide open green space doesn’t hurt.
So, we played a bunch of tag and hide and go seek and it was probably just as much fun as the playground would have been. It also helped that the weather is perfect. Eventually, they both spied a pop-up carousel and a fair style ride that went around in a circle with different pop-culture themed vehicles. There was the Disney fire truck, the Batman motorcycle, and the Paw Patrol something else…I don’t know but they had to ride it so we let them.
A bit farther down we cam across Kensington Palace, which I have to be honest, wasn’t all that impressive from the outside (at least at the entrance we were at). It just looked like a big brick house. Getting inside was a matter of many pounds, and what are we really going to do in there anyway, so we took a few requisite pictures in front (sans R who declared he would NOT be in the picture) and pressed on eastward through the park passed the big round duck pond.
Despite earlier success at distraction, the kids were now jonesing for their playground fix, so we found another one in the park grounds and started heading that way. Along the path we stopped at an obelisk erected to John Speke who “discovered” the source of the Nile River as well as the Italian Water Garden which was pretty.
Ok but let’s be honest John Speke didn’t “discover” the Nile’s source. He may have been the first European to go there, but he didn’t discover it…Arabs had been for hundreds of years, to say nothing of local groups. I don’t know why this stuff irks me but it just seems so aggrandizing when we say things are “discovered” when we really just mean they are “found by us.” Despite it’s local Tanzanian, Kenyan, and Ugandan names, I guess everyone agrees to just call it Lake Victoria though, so what do I know.
We found the Buckhill playground and let the kids do their thing before heading south across the width of the park. We unexpectedly ran smack into the Albert Memorial. This thing was huge and took us all off guard, not just because it’s height, but also because of it’s style. It looked like something more suitably placed in a Thai temple complex (from all the gold) or around the Vatican (due its ornateness) rather than in a park in London.
We were hungry so we walked up Kensington’s high street, and had lunch in a Whole Foods. Shut up, it was great. After a break back at our place, we went out to an Italian dinner at place called Carluccio’s which is right around the corner from our place; not based on any specific recommendation mind you, but because they were super accommodating for the kids.
The meal ended up being really good, and because the kids were occupied with coloring, Erin and I got to enjoy some adult beverages, specifically Gin & Tonic. Gin & Tonic is pretty serious over here. In almost two weeks, we’ve passed no fewer than 5 distilleries. Also, as they do in Madrid, ordering a GT here is actually a quest down a decision tree that is several layers deep: What type of Gin? What type of Tonic? What type of fruit? How much ice? Each of these questions breed a bunch more from us, not the least of which is: What’s the difference? We settled on a pre-fix GT cocktail that, surprisingly to both of us, Erin enjoyed as well.
Feeling good, I also indulged in a post-dinner cappuccino, and while it was nice to have a coffee in a proper cup (most have been take-away on the trip), I have to point out some points of improvement for the saucer.
First, I want you to think about the way you hold a cup with a handle. Think kinematically. Have I lost you yet? …Your wrist is likely not bent with respect to your forearm, and if it is, it may just be slightly cocked (and you need to do some shoulder raises at the gym). When holding the cup up to your lip, your forefinger is probably parallel to the horizon, your elbow pointing slight down ward and pointed just slightly outward. This angling allows the natural bending of you elbow to raise the cup up and down without having to engage your shoulder…at all…you know so you can be a respectable gentleman.
Now, when you lower the cup to the saucer, thereby moving your forefinger to pointing slightly downward, the bottom three knuckles of your grip hand could occlude your movement, and your ability to set the cup down, if the lip of the saucer comes up to high. This would force you to have to rotate the cup on its edge on the fly or perform some other uncomfortable or uncouth act like, god forbid, touching the cup with both hands…I know gross…
This was the (only real) problem (all day): the lip of the saucer came up so high that in order to properly set the cup down you had risk spilling, sticking your elbow into the person’s side sitting next to you (there was no sitting next to me), or using your shoulder joint like a heathen. To pick the cup required coming in with your hand almost vertically (shown below), which completely eliminates any chance of gracefully handling the cup, and generally makes you look like a buffoon.
Ok. I’m going to stop now. I clearly care about this way to much. I guess my point is, everything is great on vacation and in order to make this post acceptable I needed something silly to rant about.
…but for real though…saucers are important.