The Glories of Kensington: Uncovering magic inside and out

This post is the fourteenth in our England 2015 series.

After our over-the-top breakfast at Rochelle Canteen, it turned out we were positioned nicely to stop at Kensington Gardens and the Palace on our way back toward home base. I had heard that the Peter Pan statue was a must-see, so we headed through the Italian Garden Fountains, stopping briefly to wonder at the blue heron bathing in the waters.
A blue heron at the Italian Gardens in Kensington.

Once we found Peter, we discovered that he boasted a talking feature — one that we would soon discover graced many statues in London.
With Peter Pan.

We also found that the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up seemed to inspire some kind of fairy-like mischief in Jon and the girls, who quicky began scheming.

“Let’s try a magical panorama,” said Jon. Lucy and Rosie were instructed to begin by standing still at one end of the panorama field. Once Jon began to pan away from them, they ran around behind him and ended up at the other end of the field. Two sets of Boyd girls in one photo! How did they do it?
A magical panorama with Peter Pan.

This created a whimsical pattern for almost any lovely scene. The girls loved the surprise-and-delight element of it, and their participation made the panoramas both more interesting and more realistic, as those Boyd girls were always popping up in the strangest places!

Our journey deeper into the Gardens towards the Palace continued, marked by a startlingly intimate moment with a majestic swan on the Round Pond…
With a swan on the Round Pond.

…a rest on a park bench on Broad Walk…
On a bench on Broad Walk.

…and our happy arrival at the Palace to learn about Queen Victoria. We chuckled over this portrait and the note that the artist was “driven wild with royal suggestions.”
Queen Victoria.

Rosie had her turn in the Queen’s special chair…
Rosie in Queen Victoria's chair.

Lucy enjoyed sketching at the fashion exhibit…
Experimenting with design at the Fashion Exhibit.

…and we had a sweet moment on a window seat in the Queen’s gallery.
In the gallery at Kensington Palace.

But our most memorable event that day occured when we stopped for a rest and a quick snack of trail mix on a bench in a vine-covered walkway. It was a lovely moment, and as we had been discussing the origin of the title “Prince of Wales,” I took the opportunity to read a bit of history aloud from Our Island Story. But our attention soon shifted when a remarkably tame squirrel walked boldly onto our bench, appeared to beg for a moment, and ate a few proffered cashews right out of Jon’s hand.
Meeting a squirrel in the Palace Gardens.

English author Roald Dahl offers this nugget of wisdom in his novel The Minpins:

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

I think spending a couple of weeks in England helped us to understand this just a bit better.

Read the next post in our England 2015 series: Locked Out: Our own little emergency adventure.

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