on May 2, 2013
London has got some very nice green spaces and parks right in its heart. We spent some time strolling around Green Park, which, due to its close proximity to Buckingham Palace, is a good place to go for a wander after you have watched the Changing of the Guard.It is quite a small park and was at one time in its history, used by the royals as a hunting ground - not surprising due to how close it is to the palace. There are pathways, grassy areas and a little cafe where you can get refreshments. In the summer, Londoners relax here on deckchairs and soak up the sunshine. On the day we visited, sitting around was not on the agenda - it was far too cold, but we enjoyed our walk around.There are various things to see scattered throughout the park. The first one we came upon was the Canada Memorial. It is a beautiful memorial with a water feature and is to commemorate the Canadian soldiers who fought with the Allies during the first and second World Wars.Constitution Hill is also in Green Park. Apparently King Charles II used to come here everyday for a walk or a "constitutional" with his little spaniels. The name stuck for that reason.Sometimes, if there is an important royal occasion, for instance the birthday of the Queen or during her Diamond Jubilee last year, they will fire a gun salute - they do this from Green Park.Right at the top end of the park is the RAF Bomber Command Memorial. This is so impressive and was a very controversial memorial when it was unveiled and dedicated last year. It commemorates all the aircrews from Bomber Command in the RAF, who embarked on bombing missions during World War II. Over 55,000 air crew from the UK, the Commonwealth, Poland, Czechoslovakia were killed during these raids. There were also a large number of civilians killed, hence the controversy and indecision as to whether a memorial was appropriate. The memorial is however, to mark the sacrifice of the aircrew, but also to remember the civilians.It is a huge memorial and is very close to Hyde Park corner. The Queen officially opened it in June 2012 and other members of the royal family attended the ceremony.The main feature of the memorial is a sculpture of a crew of airmen, they look tired and worn out - they have just returned from a bombing mission. The sculpture is 9 feet tall and dominates the area. The roof is made from aluminium and was taken from a Royal Canadian Airforce plane that crashed in Belgium in 1944. There is a glass area in the roof, and the words "Per Ardua Ad Astra" around the edge.It is a very beautiful, sober and moving memorial and well worth going out of your way to look at it and think of what it stands for.Not far from Green Park is St James Park. This is also a lovely place to have a walk in a grassy area, filled with beautiful flower beds and plants. There is a lake as well, we were intrigued to see pelicans relaxing at the side of the lake. Lots of movies have been filmed in this park including 101 Dalmations and the James Bond movie Die Another Day.Most tourists in this area go to visit Buckingham Palace or to walk down the Mall and admire the buildings. This is a good thing to do, but it is definitely worthwhile taking a bit of time out to walk through and admire the parks and their memorials.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009