A Travellerspoint blog

March 2007

Hyde Park... home of the unbalanced

or...why beer is good and God hates me.

sunny 14 °C

We have been working very hard over the last couple of weeks and it occurred to us that we were already falling into the trap of using the weekend simply to recharge for more work on monday. With this in mind we sat in bed and wrote down a list of places, here in London, that we wanted to see. We made a pact to ensure that we cross something off the list every weekend.

First cab off the rank was Jen's desire to visit Hyde Park. Now, as we may have mentioned before, we live with a guy named Dave. He's very nice and also loves in-line skating (and is very good at it) so he suggested that we all go out for a Saturday afternoon of skating at Hyde Park. Sounded good. Jen likes skating, so do Kelly and Mark, and they assured me that, even though I had never skated in my life, that it would be fun and I probably wouldn't kill myself. I viewed that as a positive!

We boarded the tube and headed to Marble Arch. Dave took us to a store run by some skater dudes he knows and in no time we were tooled up with wikid skates..innit! Jen and I decided not to skate from the shop to the park - alongside the road... down a long flight of stairs - and opted to put the wheels on when we got there.

Jen looked very comfortable and competent, how hard could it be, I thought. I was about to find out. Now, I don't know how many of you have skated, but I found the journey from sitting down on the ground to standing up on wheels nearly impossible. However I soon got the knack of standing... still that is. It was really only when I commenced any type of movement what-so-ever that I ran into a wall of fear and an acute awareness of the frailty of human life! I needed help! And help was not far away. All it took was a slow, romantic skate... hand in hand. Good old Dave (cue first very gay looking moment). That good old housemate of ours babysat me the whole day. He explained the basics and pushed, stopped, guided or stopped me skating into the water. I was slowly getting better, and Jen kept telling me I was doing fine, which helped.

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Stephen & Dave in Hyde Park

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And again....

Halfway through the day we stopped for a drink by the lake. Now this is when I discovered why beer is good. We each had a long neck of Stella before starting off again... it was a miracle... I could skate a bit! I felt like I had been doing it my whole life. It was wonderful! A few moments later I remembered that, in fact, it wasn't, I couldn't, I hadn't and got all wobbly again.

By the time we got to the Princess Diana Memorial I was feeling like I was going to survive the outing. The memorial is very simple in design and was surrounded by kids. It seemed appropriate that this place would enable kids to relax and enjoy themselves, given her dedication to children.
Jen was still telling me I was doing well... as she skated around me... backwards! Anyway, I survived the day without a fall and we have decided to give a go again really soon. We loved it.

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Beautiful daffodils everywhere in Hyde Park and in full bloom....

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Hyde Park....

After skating we headed along the Lebanese strip and, on Dave's recommendation, entered a restaurant for a drink, some tiny cakes, and shisha. Shisha is that glass lamp looking device with a rubber tube coming out of it, the guy brings it out and gives you a disposible plastic tip for hygiene. It didn't know quite where to place the rubber hose... in your mouth apparently! There is water in the bottom (of the device that is) and tobacco mixed with dried apple near the top. They place hot coals on the top of a vented thingy and you smoke it like a pipe. After a bit of effort and adjusting how much we drew in, we were smoking like we were back in Coburg. It was ok, although our throats were a bit dry. Can't see us taking it up professionally.

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Stephen smoking double-apple Shisha

Sunday morning we crossed one of my items off the list. We headed back to Hyde Park to visit 'Speakers corner'. The lonely planet described this place as being facinating 'especially if you like nutters'. Well, they were in abundance that morning. Essentially, anyone who has the inclination, brings along something to stand on and starts to rant on whatever subject they like.The crowd ebbs and flows as people tune in or out to the speaker. The area is predominated by religious orators.

The first speaker we encountered was a guy on a small step ladder ranting at the crowd. We decided to stay and listen. He was a sunglass wearing cockney and was angrily attacking the crowd.

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Yelling at the top of his voice that they were stupid, had no morals, and that they believed in a "namby pamby Jesus". He was there to let everyone know that he loved God... and God hated us. "You are all going to an endless, painful hell" he told the crowd. Not me, I thought, if God hated me I would have crashed into the lake yesterday!

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Jen getting a free hug...

It was not all fire and brimstone though - and Jen managed to get a free hug from the free hug guy.... they will both, no doubt, be going to hell as a result! The guy told Jen "that's a good hug", and he would know... he hugs professionally! I have to agree with him too.

Learn more about the Free Hug movement here

Posted by StephenJen 01:57 Archived in England Comments (1)

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