London Times | Hyde Park and the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

We're at day five of our trip to the UK and after a morning of shopping (Topshot, Zara, H&M and Primark) we ended up in Hyde Park.

Oh, and we ate lunch at Nando's, because my daughter insisted. When I asked how she even knew about Nando's (I had never heard of the chicken place), I learned it's been featured in some YouTube videos, one with Ed Sheeran, who the girls really love. There's probably some link to the likes of One Direction and Justin Bieber that I am unaware of, too. I guess there's no denying the influence of these social media on today's youth.

Some additional comments about our venture into the Primark store (which is somewhat like a Kohl's Store in the US, only much bigger) - it was like being in a Wal-Mart on Black Friday morning. Throngs of people everywhere. If you wanted to try on some clothes, be prepared to wait 30 minutes to get into the fitting room. Then there was the "queue" to purchase your cheap clothes which were probably made in a sweatshop like the one that collapsed in India. We were in the store for 5 minutes before becoming overcome by a desire to leave immediately.

We escaped the Primark store by heading to Hyde Park. I wanted to see the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, located in the center of the park, but the girls were quite "done" with the day's activities. So I made a decision - one that went against the motherly instinct in all us mothers - I allowed them to travel back to my sister's house without me. My rationalization - they just needed to get to the Hammersmith Tube Station, and after 5 days of navigating the London Underground, I knew they could figure it out. Still, as I watched them walk away, I resisted the urge to run after them screaming, "OK, I'm going with you!".

Resolute in my decision to give my girl some independence, I briskly walked to the Serpentine Gallery. Each year, the gallery commissions an architect to showcase a structure next to the gallery - the temporary structure is used as a pavilion and gathering space. Past architects include Frank Gehry, and this year's pavilion was designed by Sou Fujimoto.

Serpentine 2013
I had viewed photos of the structure online - it looked like a crystalline structure in the photos, but as I walked towards it, to me it looked more like white toothpicks glued together. Once I got closer, I gained a better appreciation of the pavilion - it was so much more sturdy that toothpicks - with each supported fashioned from solid steel pipes.

Serpentine 2013

The pavilion's hollow center serves as a unique open air cafe. Visitors may climb into the structure via transparent stairs and gather with friends.
Gathering Spot

I enjoyed people watching as I sipped a steamy cappuccino:
Gathering Spot

I left the Serpentine Gallery and headed west toward Kensington Palace. Enroute, I came across the Royal Albert Hall and the South Gardens:
The Hall

On the Flower Walk

In front of Kensington Palace - a Statue of Queen Victoria:
Victoria Rules

I had walked from the East to the West side of the park and was ready to head back home. I took a doubledecker bus to Hammersmith and marveled at the tenacity of bikers in the flow of London traffic. I also texted my daughter, a little anxious about their solo journey back home. I gave a sigh of relief when she responded to my text - they had arrived back home without incident.


I learned several things that day - that a little bit of independence can make everyone happy - that my oldest is getting ready for the next steps of independence - and that I am almost ready to let that happen (note I said "almost" - baby steps....)

2BPhotog  – (June 23, 2013 at 7:47 PM)  

Thank you for a wonderful post. I felt as if I came along with you. Enjoyed your pictures...beautiful!

Catherine  – (June 24, 2013 at 11:30 AM)  

I commend you for your strength and courage to trust in your daughter's independence (and in a foreign country)! Love the Serpentine Gallery exhibit, architects dream up those structures is amazing!

Anita Johnson  – (June 24, 2013 at 4:13 PM)  

I have enjoyed your travel photos very much! While I think the US is very beautiful and diverse, the history and architecture in these photos is really hard to beat. Beautiful.

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