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Catching Up

Catching Up

Sharp eyes may have spotted that this is now called a Newsletter. It always was in fact and as you all very kindly kept telling us, you and your own friends really appreciated the jumble of updates and bits and pieces written to amuse and entertain. We found the feedback really helpful and it’s what has kept us positive that this system of keeping in touch is well worth the effort.

Of course we used to produce a printed paper Newsletter twice a year although, during Covid difficulties this was reduced to an annual effort. So your trustees, following a discussion, are renaming the printed version ‘Annual Review’ and this years is due later this month.

So welcome to our Newsletter, thanks to Mail Chimp and to our membership secretary and trustee, Lynden, for sorting everything out.

She asks:
“If you’ve changed address in the last year, please could you email me your new address for our postal mailing list?”
Email: lynden@lyndeneaston.co.uk


Summing up Summer
Welcome back to the Friends of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens (FHPKG) Mail Chimp Newsletter.

August was disappointing, probably for all of us in the UK. Not only torrential rain but days without sun. This helped the grass and trees but not the flowers which do need sunshine to thrive (don’t we all?)

I hope all of you who love wild swimming, as we now call it, were able to swim in the Serpentine at the Lido. It took a lot of arranging by the Royal Parks to allow for distancing and Covid guidelines. The changing rooms were fully refurbished and the aim was not to allow them to get crowded.

For the whole of July and August there were bookable one hour slots for swimming from 10am to 2pm and there was a possibility of extending these hours if demand was there, but that wasn’t the case. There were slots for 120 swimmers per day, using the “ beachhead area”. The facility was only fully booked for 8 days. It had to be closed at the end of August when Blue Green Algae took over.

It costs TRP £1000’s to run the facility and so the rumours of the Parks making it a commercial venture weren’t true. The Parks are suffering from a massive hole in their budgets having no major events to fundraise, so costs have to be managed.
Dahlias reign supreme on the Lido Terrace

Meanwhile up stairs at the Lido, the area of garden which used to be accessible only by paying to get in, was opened up for all to use free of charge during the afternoons when the park is busier. Tables, chairs and deck chairs were placed around the garden, the children’s play ground (a lovely attraction) and a temporary station to order drinks and ice creams. The paddling pool was covered over as it requires a life guard on duty, this was too much to budget for. However the rest was perfect and families clearly enjoyed it towards the end of August and into September when the sun came out.

The top terrace garden probably won’t go back to private use despite some members long memories of toddlers parties and lying all day on chair beds. It’s a more open and democratic facility now.
Sue on her way to enjoy the rooftop terrace

If grown ups can swim in the Serpentine then children can paddle in the Diana Fountain which has been reopened. It has ‘in and out’ gates for busier times and security staff on duty. It was being enjoyed to the full when we took the photos.
Paddling and free for everybody at the Diana Fountain

Meanwhile with no events to raise funds filming took place and provided a good income. The Serpentine Pavilion was used in London Fashion Week to show Roksanda Illianich’s collection one morning.
The Pavilion

Friends Events
We hit the ground running in early September with a lovely tree walk for members in Kensington Gardens. Greg Packman once again had everyone riveted, it was especially enjoyed by the many new members who joined us. Afterwards we cooled off in Kensington Gardens offices pretty courtyard .
Pied Piper Greg sets off across Kensington gardens

And, not long after that Mike Jones entertained us one early evening in his kingdom, the massive Super Nursery. His tours are always packed with interest. It was held on the Autumn Equinox so we contemplated rather gloomily that nights really would now be drawing in. As we packed everything up at the end it was pitch dark, and only 7pm…..
Raising a glass to Mike

Hold the Date
Mike is very generous to us and has once again offered us a plant sale of left over plants when everything has gone out to all the Royal Parks. The plants are not only top quality but at bargain prices too. All funds raised will go to the Royal Parks Charity.
Some of the plants Mike and his team grow in the nursery

You will be invited to book timed slots again on Eventbrite so look out for the email. The date is on Thursday 11th November which is just the right time to fill up the gaps in your gardens or pots.

Chelsea Flower show was on down the road with a different range of plants but honestly, the general theme running through the show gardens were salvias and grasses, plus sedums. And my goodness we have some spectacular examples in Hyde Park. Enjoy them while you can, I don’t suppose they’ll last much longer.
Asters and grasses in the bee bed on West Carriage Drive

Assistant manager, Phil Newcombe is the horticultural expert for Hyde Park. Here he is in the rose garden checking his plant lists. A challenger for Chelsea Flower Show?

Congratulations to Phil who has just gained his masters from the RHS and I think looks very like Keith Weed (chairman of the RHS) Apparently I’m not the first to mention this.
 Assistant Manager Phil Newcombe

But then Andy Williams, Manager of Kensington Gardens, was likened to Allan Titchmarsh recently by a member on our tree walk when he joined us. Who’s going for Carol Klein or Rachel de Thame ?

Van Gogh Live has now closed and I hope plenty of you were able to enjoy it. I took on board the comments from some of you about the difficulty with online ticketing. The lack of a box office or any human to help added to the difficulty. I promised to feed back.

Winter Wonderland this year will be ticketed and I will go into further detail when I write next time. However I want to reassure you that this event will have staff in a box office at two entrances to help. And so if you turn up at a quiet time and want to pop in, it can be fixed up on the spot. Tickets for those times will be free. I will explain in greater detail in my next missive.

Its nice to be writing to you all again and hope you have managed to stay well as we slide through the end of the summer.

Let’s keep walking and enjoying the parks before the winter sets in.

Sue Price 9/10/21

Photography by:
Tina Higginson.
Sue Price
Rob Dowling
Paul Shelley
Robyn Easton