London – Kensington Gardens

Henry James once expressed the opinion that the view from the bridge that crosses the Serpentine where Hyde Park joins Kensington Gardens has an “extraordinary nobleness,” and there is something indescribably beautiful and unexpected about it. The grey buildings in the distance look like some palace of the fata morgana over the shimmering water. I do not know if Sir James Barrie is responsible for the feeling that you would not be surprised at anything that might happen in Kensington Gardens. Who would be bold enough to assert that when the last child has left the Peter Pan statue the squirrels do not come and play with their stone brothers? Kensington Gardens are the paradise of the child and the flower lover. There are ugly things in it, of course; like the Albert Memorial, though everyone does not think it ugly: I was once startled at hearing that souvenir of Victorian taste fervently admired by some fellow bus passengers. But the Serpentine, and the Round Pond on a sunny morning when the fleet is engaged in serious manceuvres-and the Broad Walk: Wren’s orangery-the lovely sunk garden with its pleached walk of lime trees with the avenue Queen Caroline planted-and above all, the Flower Walk in the sunlit air after a shower, -if visitors to London have time for nothing else they should carry away a memory of Kensington Gardens.