Sunday, December 9, 2012
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.)