It’s going to be a wet day, Sally warned me. Are you sure you want to be out in the park?
Heedless to good advice, I walked towards Kensington Gardens after this morning’s invigorating Easter service. Passed by Victoria & Albert, had a peek inside and ended up staying for three hours. Actually the truth was it started to rain and I had to take shelter.
But what a surprise to see the diverse range of exhibitions from Italian fashion to contemporary Islamic art and design; floating marble gods, Shakespeare’s 450th birthday anniversary, silverware, jewellery, wedding dresses, stained glass art, medieval craft, displays from every continent. And it’s free all year round.
When the rain eased off, I walked over to the British Museum only to see a long queue of people trying to get in, even in the rain. Forget it! Thought I could also take a peek inside but will save it for another rainy day.
Turned around, passed Imperial College towards Kensington Gardens, saw a row of “Boris” bikes at a Barclays Cycle Hire station and decided to hire one. Then it rained again. Well the rain is not the kind of heavy downpour back in Singapore. It’s more like light showers except its piercing cold especially with the wind in your face and exposed hands. Wish I’d learned to ride with hands in the pockets.
There were no more than ten people in the park, a couple with a dog, a group of teenagers and me the out-of-town cyclist who knew no better than to be out in the rain cold and wet.
From Kensington, I cycled to old Hyde Park to see if there’s anything going on at the Speakers Corner. No regular speakers but a huge crowd of volatile people, concert-going kind in hoodies and boots clustering, getting high listening to some speaker in the midst of the mob.
A few police cars parked on the service road, several policemen scattered around and a stern looking eagle-eyed bobby at the exit watching everyone streaming into the park.
It’s 420 Day and pot smokers are gathering for a picnic puffing joints and protesting for the legalization of cannabis. Certainly none of my business and I cycled away from the weed thick in the air. By the time I returned to the bicycle station, I was completely drenched.
Yes, I’d rather be warm and dry but I’d rather know how it feels to be peaceful and light cycling in the rain in the parks of London. Will do it again – with proper gloves, a thicker jacket, leather boots, a thermos flask with hot tea, biscuits, change of clothes in waterproof bag. After all the bike rental is only two pounds for 24 hours – what a great way to see London.