Tuesday, 17 July 2012

St James's Park - photo ops, trivia and feeding the wildlife

We are incredibly lucky in London to have so many beautiful parks to punctuate the hustle and bustle of city life.

I'll be blogging about them all at some point, but if you can't wait then the Royal Parks website is easy to navigate and a great place to start - check it out:  http://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks

I quite often find myself in St James's Park, which is pretty much the Queen's front garden. In the wake of the Diamond Jubilee, there are some fun photo opportunities for tourists and/or the patriotically-stirred; St James's Park has a suitably majestic five-tonne floral crown, and if you take your photo carefully you can even get Buck House in the background.
The creation is a copy of the actual crown used in the Queen's coronation in 1953, St Edward's Crown; if you are feeling inspired the original, made of gold and precious/semi-precious stones and weighing in at a hefty two and a quarter kilograms, can be seen in the Crown Jewels collection at the Tower of London.

You can also find some wonderfully vibrant 'Union Jack' flowerbeds - and here's another bit of random trivia: technically the correct name of the UK's national flag is actually the Union Flag; a 'jack' is the term for a flag flown from a ship that indicates the nationality of the vessel. (Not a lot of people know that.)

St James's Park stretches itself either side of a long and fairly narrow lake, home to a host of ducks, geese - and pelicans! The latter get fed every day around 2.30pm, which is fun to watch, but the former will be very happy to get up close and personal with you in exchange for the crusts from your lunchtime sandwiches (although apparently birdseed or halved grapes are better for them).

Feeding the ducks is fine and dandy, but for me, the real fun is in feeding the squirrels. These little guys are pretty tame, and if you crouch down and keep reasonably still, they'll take food (unsalted nuts are ideal - Boots sell them in perfectly-sized little snack packs) straight from your hand. (Boots sell hand sanitiser too, if you're worried.)

The most squirrel-friendly area seems to be about half way along the path walking from Buckingham Palace down towards the bridge - which is also a great photo op, as from the middle of the bridge there are great views in both directions.

Happy squirrel-whispering,

Girl About Town xx

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