Sunday, December 9, 2012

Jurassic Park

There are dinosaurs in London -- and I don't mean of the political or social variety. Actual, imitation dinosaurs.

Yesterday I met up with erstwhile bloggers Sally and Liz, as well as Liz's husband Andy, for a walk around Crystal Palace, a large park and neighborhood in far south London. For me, getting down there involved a lengthy tube and train ride -- as you can see below, we were a long way from the city center.

We started our day with a light lunch at a pub, then set out to explore the neighborhood. Crystal Palace is so named because it was the home of the Crystal Palace, the Victorian-era glass pavilion that was originally a highlight of London's Great Exhibition of 1851. It first stood in Hyde Park, but a few years later was relocated to south London, where it became the centerpiece of a large public park until it was destroyed by fire in 1936. (It was made of glass and metal, so one wonders what there was to burn -- but apparently it was full of combustibles.)

Today, Crystal Palace park has a large athletic facility where we saw these guys watching a game of field hockey. The guy with the plaid shorts, pink shirt and orange socks is definitely cultivating a look.

The shadows are terrific at this time of year -- but the downside is that the sun is so low, it's in my lens all the time.

While we were walking through this part of the park, some guy ran past on the telephone, loudly exclaiming to someone (police?) that his son had been mugged. Turns out a couple of kids stole another kid's phone. We found the phone cover on the ground and pointed it out to the mother, who like the father was rampaging through the area trying to find the offenders. They were both so angry we all decided it might be better for everyone if the offenders weren't found.

But back to the dinosaurs. They were originally built in Crystal Palace park in 1854, the first dinosaur sculptures in the world. They are historically protected structures and were refurbished about ten years ago. You can't touch them -- they're on an island in the middle of a murky, prehistoric-looking pond.

They're pretty great, even though they look nothing like any specific dinosaur I know.

We left Crystal Palace Park as the sun set and went to Liz's house, where we enjoyed a terrific pork dinner prepared by Andy. Then I began the long trek back to Notting Hill and Dave, who couldn't join us because he's in the middle of holiday concert season. (After dealing with middle- and high-school kids all day, he wouldn't be fazed by even the fiercest dinosaurs.)


Barbara said...

You wonder whatever possessed them to make the dinosaur sculptures originally. Was some sculpter's young son interested in those prehistoric animals?!

Sounds like a great outing. I'm glad you continue to stay in touch with your Blogger friends.

Reya Mellicker said...

Fabulous pictures! I love the long shadows and of course, the old lizard style dinos are evocative. Wow.

Ms. Moon said...

What IS it about dinosaurs which are just so darn fascinating? I think that most of us fall in love with them when we're very young and for some of us, the fascination never ends.
I sure wish I could have visited the Crystal Palace but alas, even I am not that old.

Sharon said...

You've supplied a view of London that I've never seen before. It does look like you were a very, very long ways from the heart of the city. Loved the guy with the orange socks. He jumped out from the photo even before I read your remarks.
I also enjoyed your comment about the southern position of the sun. I was just lamenting the same thing yesterday. I love the long shadows but, it seems like I'm always trying to avoid shooting right into it.

Elizabeth said...

Your photos are so damn fantastic! I thought of you today as I read through the food New Yorker, particularly the profile of Ottolenghi. I wondered if you and Dave had ever eaten at one of his restaurants.

Steve Reed said...

Barbara: I think the Victorians were captivated by dinosaurs, having only recently discovered them. I definitely try to keep up with my blog pals!

Reya: Thanks! The shadows ARE terrific now.

Ms Moon: They're the closest thing to real monsters that we have, don't you think? (Well, aside from Mitch McConnell.)

Sharon: In all fairness, the orange socks are covering shin guards, so he's probably a hockey player himself. Maybe those are team colors. Not sure about the plaid, though!

Elizabeth: Ottolenghi is literally right around the corner! We've been there several times, though we usually get stuff for takeout -- snacks or light deli foods.I haven't read that profile yet, but I did see it!