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Blog 17: Farewell from our Blogging Technical Officers

Blog 17: Farewell from our Blogging Technical Officers

A Farewell for now from our Technical Officers and Bloggers

Pat from Hyde writes…
The past 5 months have been a little strange, to say the least. Having only joined the Hyde Park Team in December I have now spent longer working in lockdown mode than not. The height of lockdown now seems in a distant past, but despite its challenges, there have been numerous silver linings and positive outcomes. One of which being our weekly blogs for The Friends.

Beginning as a simple idea, we thought it would be helpful to update you, members of the Friends of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, on the two Parks as the pandemic unfolded. If we could, in some way, connect to those of you who could not reach the wonderful green spaces of the Parks, then we could maintain the joy and interest we all receive, albeit digitally. The weekly update evolved however and Russell and I soon found ourselves writing about everything from water management, trees, events, and meadows, and what fun it has been! Having the opportunity to write freely about the comings and goings of Hyde Park, its history and ecology, for the benefit of The Friends, has been a privilege, to say the least. I have certainly learnt a lot about the Parks, and I know, from some of the member’s wonderful comments, that the blogs have been well received also. We thank you for these.

The blog, however, has not been the only positive thing to come out of the two Parks over the past 5 months. Within Hyde Park, the 10-Year Management Plan has been given an injection of energy from our new landscape officer, Nic and is now almost in its final reviewing phase. With this plan in place we will be eligible for a renewal of our Green Flag Award, the benchmark national standard for public Parks and greens spaces in the UK. What is more, the objectives and projects outlined in the plan will help guide us through the next ten years, ultimately improving the parks aesthetic, ecological, communal, and historic value. In good time the plan will be made available to the public and will definitely be worth a read. The context section is especially interesting, describing in detail the history of the Park with some curious and captivating illustrations and photos.

With the release of TRP’s Transport Strategy we have also seen some major changes to the Park’s roads. Under close monitoring and consultation, the closure of North Carriage Drive is now being trialled, with the aim to close it completely to vehicle traffic. This will free up more space for pedestrians and cyclists and allow the old Victorian road to be redeveloped in a more Park friendly way. Reducing traffic in the Park is a priority and we hope these radical road closures will steer us in the right direction.

On top of this, the Swale, a type of sustainable drainage system has been completed up on North Carriage Drive and will improve the drainage of rainwater runoff from the road, while at the same time producing a number of ecologically beneficial ponds for wildlife. If you have a spare moment, the design and engineering of the Swale is worth a closer look

The Swale, Hyde Park

As we look forward to the coming months and years there is a lot in store for Hyde Park. From restoring the bandstand, to improving the biodiversity within the Tyburn meadow area, redesigning the Serpentine Road and rationalising the Broadwalk. The plans for Hyde Park over the next ten years will see some long awaited and progressive changes, while keeping in mind and ensuring the preservation of the Parks historic value.

Earlier this week I stayed in the Park after work to meet some friends. We grabbed a drink from the new Lido Café and sat down on a bench overlooking The Serpentine. It struck me at that moment, as I shared it with friends, how impressively beautiful Hyde Park is. Working everyday in the Park, it is easy to pick up on the things that need improving or fixing, but sometimes, it takes a step back to appreciate the landscape and all its intricacies. A Park, known all over the world and one of London’s most popular tourist destination. We are truly lucky to have access to such an incredible and flagship green space and we must continue to look after it and improve it for generations to come.

And Russell from Kensington Gardens writes…
Well, as our workload increases back to ‘normal’ once again, I will miss giving ‘The Friends’ little seasonal snippets of information about Kensington Gardens. The last few months have been different, to say the least, with all of us having our flexibilities and resilience well and truly tested and I would like a final chance to reflect on the positives that have come from this.

Personally, I feel that the rhetoric around the importance of green spaces has gathered momentum during this period, which I hope is taken forward by all of society to secure not just a positive future for The Royal Parks, but for all green spaces nationwide. I am proud to be in the privileged position to serve all Park users by being part of the custodianship of this fantastic green oasis in the middle of London’s hubbub.

Wonderful wildflowers

Having the opportunity to come up with a regular narrative focused on The Gardens has ensured that I have become even more familiar with the landscape – shamefully I had never actually ready J.M Barrie’s ‘Peter Pan of Kensington Gardens’ until I wanted to string together a blog detailing the links between the book and it’s inspiration! I even dusted off my ‘Latin for Gardeners’ book to explain the etymology, naming of specimens found growing in the Gardens. This has also led to research into some of the great names associated with Kensington – Forsyth and Jenner to name a few. The whole concept of writing a blog has been a great mind and knowledge expanding experience.

It has been humbling to receive the many words of thanks for the work we have undertaken to bring you these short stories, and it goes a long way to underline the importance of engaging with our stakeholders, sharing our knowledge and giving insight to our daily lives in the Parks. An aspect I am keen to take forward is the sharing of information via fixed point interpretation, and now that other TRP teams are getting back up and running, we have started to work in earnest on providing analysis of the Long Water enclosures and the veteran trees. Giving people knowledge and an understanding of the intricacies of how we manage the landscape, is key to influencing the decisions and behaviour of the public that will help us in our mission, to protect these landscapes for future generations.

For now, we’ll get back to our day jobs, but with a greater understanding of the importance of taking time to reflect and share – this isn’t the end!

Patrick Markey-Bell
Technical Officer, Hyde Park

Russell Stevens
Assistant Park Manager & Technical Officer, Kensington Gardens

It’s the end of a chapter…. …but certainly not of the book!

I couldn’t describe with any better words than Jason, Pat and Russell have written for this, their final, blog.

We have been so grateful, cheered up, informed and intrigued as, each week, they’ve come up with new and unexpected things for us to read. So much research went into some of their offerings, at times I worried about their day jobs!

I know they had, in pre Covid life, co-operated on water quality inspections but the regular postings meant that they got together much more than they would have done formerly. Pat told me how much he had enjoyed learning more about Kensington Gardens.

Lynden has put together, edited, sometimes gathered photographs and worked round all the intricacies of Mail Chimp to produce this weekly treat for everyone. A member called to say how beautifully professional looking the Mail Chimps had become and Lynden deserves all our congratulations on raising standards every week.

Our photographer, Paul Shelley, often needed to supplement our members blogs on ‘their’ weeks with photos which he was able to whip out of his, now very full, Parks picture library to give Lynden a choice of what she felt would fit in best.

And to our member bloggers, who were able to give us insights in their own words about what was special to them, a very big thank you. Not one of them was anything except unusual and very enjoyable….excellent reads. Thank you to you all.

As things relax a little on numbers for open air events, I am hoping that perhaps, in the early Autumn, we might have a chance for our members to meet Pat and Russell on their home turf. Watch your Mail Chimp Box!

In the meantime, although we are all having to follow rules and cannot yet fully relax, I hope you are all getting through this very difficult year and beginning to be able to enjoy a few more aspects of Park and London life.

Best wishes to you all,

Sue Price

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