Sunday, October 11
We took a long cab ride to the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. Mark especially wanted to see the Temperate House to see what could be grown in this environment. Unfortunately, this building is closed until 2016 due to renovation. There was plenty else to see.
We took a bus ride around the gardens since we had so little time. The gardens comprise about 350 acres, with over 14,000 trees representing over 2,000 species. Among the areas we could see were the Holly Walk, Japanese Garden, Chinese Pagoda, and much more. Kew was founded in 1759 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.
We then visited the Palm House, which was like an indoor rain forest. It feels good after being out in the chilly London air. We could view the many plants from floor level, or from an elevated walkway around the main area. There is also a marine section below ground.
Then to the Water Lily House, where there were some of the largest lily pads we’ve ever seen – the Santa Cruz Water Lily – up to 5 feet or more in diameter. These pads were designed to support their huge size, with ribs on the underside. The flower is up to 10 inches in diameter and blooms for two days.
We still had a little time, so we also visited the Princess of Wales Conservatory, which houses many desert plants.
We then took a Hop On Hop Off bus for a tour of the downtown and historic areas. There are so many tour bus companies in London, and they are all going to the same places. It’s difficult sometimes to see the attractions because we have to look over the heads of others. We went by the Tower of London, Elizabeth Tower (which houses the bell known as Big Ben), Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, among others (so we were told.) Oh well, we did get some history along the way.
Had dinner at Jamie Oliver’s Diner, which was mostly good… Why must they put cilantro on everything??? It ought to come with a warning label for those of us to whom it tastes metallic and/or like soap.
Then, on to see “Thriller Live” at the Lyric Theatre. It was a good show, with about 30 songs, well choreographed and very energetic. Each of the songs was performed by one of four very talented singers, including one woman. She could hit those high notes as well as the male performers did.