Everything seemed to be in bloom when we arrived. Everything. Even the chestnut trees, which I'm not sure I've ever seen an actual chestnut tree in bloom before. They're very much like buckeye trees, which we do have in plenty around here, but it filled my heart with delight to see actual chestnut trees. Almost all of the chestnut trees in America died of the blight early in the last century. I guess there are some around, but they're hybrid Chinese and they're mostly all very young trees. Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park were both filled with massive, obviously ancient chestnut trees. So beautiful and magnificent.
We went to Covent Garden a couple of times this trip. My husband loves the buskers. There's tons of great shopping in the area too, including Cath Kidston. In the Covent Garden Market they have lots of lovely little stalls with handcrafted goods and vintage and antique wares. One could spend hours shopping in this neighborhood.
The bluebell woods in Kew Gardens are just enchanting. We spent the whole day wandering the grounds. When the bluebells are out, there's this haze of blue in every clearing it seems, under every tree, every where you look. Kew is such a magical place anytime, with trees from every corner of the globe and fantastic greenhouses, from so very Victorian palm houses to super modern desert houses.
This little staircase is in Hampton Court, the biggest of the three palaces I visited this time. Built by Cardinal Woolsey for his own residence and later claimed by Henry the VIII for his royal court, Hampton Court is simply sprawling. It's half Tudor, half Baroque, because William III tore part of the Tudor palace down, and rebuilt it, using Christopher Wren as his architect, intending for the palace to rival Versailles in size and magnificence. Thankfully, he ran out of money and never finished, so we have a remaining Tudor portion.
This picture is a little hallway off the part of the palace William III built and it leads up into the private residences. Even though no royalty have lived in the palace for three hundred years or so, it's still lived in. There are dozens of grace and favour apartments in this castle still. Can you imagine living in not just a palace, but in a palace owned by Henry the VIII? Also, I love the blue green of the woodwork, just the right tranquil shade of it.
This is the Chapel of the Old Royal Naval College, originally built as the Greenwich Hospital, a residence for injured and pensioned sailors of the Royal Navy. It's beautiful, isn't it? Just like a piece of Wedgwood china.
We spent a whole day at Greenwich, taking the Thames river taxi to get there. Which is about the most civilized public transportation option ever, by the way, with a decent coffee shop right on board! We saw baroque wonder after wonder, from a formal dining room with the most amazing painted ceiling to a small palace built for Queen Anne. But the chapel remains my favorite.
This carousel is on the south bank of Thames, near the London Eye and Jubilee Gardens. It just makes me happy to think about and too look at this picture of it.