Kew Gardens

What an adventure I had this morning! One that has occasioned me in the severest personal terror I ever experienced in my life.  Have I got your attention? Well I should, it is rather a dramatic way to begin a journal entry. However my day was not nearly so exciting as the woman who originally wrote these words. I will come back to her words later.

I did, however, have a lovely day with Cathy at Kew Gardens on the west side of London. When I woke, it was drizzly, cold, and windy; not the kind of day that inspires one to visit a garden.  But, as it drew time to meet Cathy the sun started to peek through the clouds.  En route to Kew Gardens we stopped at a cute little tea shop. I had my first cream tea of this vacation. A cream tea simply means black tea, accompanied by a scone, clotted cream (like soft cream cheese without the tang), and strawberry jam.  It was lovely, as always.

I had never been to Kew Gardens before today.  It’s fun to find things in London that I still haven’t done.  The gardens are very nice.  They spread over several acres, have a few different green house areas, as well as some ponds,woodland areas, and the River Thames flows along one side.  The Chihuly Glass exhibit that was at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville last year is currently her at Kew.  As before, I really like some of his pieces while others fall a bit flat for me.  We started out wandering toward the Hive, a massive art installation meant to mimic a bee hive and raise awareness of the importance of bees.  It has a sonorous sound/music that is piped out from its hive-like structure of metal.  After that, we headed over to the Princess of Wales pavilion, to check out the giant lily pads, tropical plants, and carnivorous pants.  

From here, we made our way to the former residence of King George III (yes, the one who lots the American colonies). The house dated from about 1800.  George and his wife, Charlotte (yes, the one for whom Charlotte, NC is named) lived here until their respective deaths.  Charlotte gave birth to 15 children, 2 of which stayed alive long enough to hold the British throne.  George III’s granddaughter was Queen Victoria.  Cathy and I had lots of discussion over how she became Queen while she had uncles who were still alive.  I’m not sure we came to a satisfying conclusion.  The house, itself, was possibly less interesting than our discussion and direction of British royal lineage.  I did, however, find the nearby kitchen (separate building) and adjoining vegetable garden interesting. The kitchen facility was nearly as big as the main house, just with 2 floors instead of 4.  And, to get back to my opening statement of drama, we read those lines from the diary of a woman in the Queen Charlotte’s employ who generally tried to avoid the mad king George when walking in the gardens, only to encounter him one day.  A scene which she very dramatically described in her journal.

From here, we meandered toward the river, then back toward a large pond that had a mother swan with 7 babies trailing behind.  Onward we want, through grass filled with goose poo toward the Treetop Walkway.  We climbed about 4 flights of stairs to a walkway level with the tops of the trees.  It was quite windy today, and if you stood still you could feel the walkway swaying with the wind gusts.  Yikes, but beautiful!  As we slowly made our way back to the entrance to the gardens we stopped in one final green house, the Temperate House to view a selection of plants from Cathy’s native New Zealand.  There were a few more Chihuly sculptures in here.  There was also a vey Victorian looking spiral staircase leading up to a second story walkway around the perimeter.  The views from above were pretty great.

All in all, we were at the gardens for about 4 hours, hence the great number of steps for the day!  My Fitbit tells me we walked 20,483 steps. 

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