Saturday, 23 April 2016

Crystal Palace

Today's dog walk took us to pastures new.

For a while now I've been wanting to explore Crystal Palace park (mostly to see the dinosaurs) but it always seems a bit too far. Thankfully, when already in the South and with a car to hand, it's not too far at all.

First impressions, it was pretty deserted which surprised us on a Saturday in Spring when the sun was trying to shine. The car-park we found was tiny and had plenty of empty spaces and there were very few people around. It did feel a bit sad.

From the car we initially climbed the steps that would have once led to the Crystal Palace itself. I had a moment akin to the one when I first travelled by Eurostar and was expecting to see underwater (please don't judge me, I was young) because for some reason the lack of palace was a surprise to me. I really don't know why I thought it was still standing.

At least literally a bit of it is, anyway (at least, presumably this is a bit of it?)

That disappointment out of the way, we followed the map's direction in pursuit of dinosaurs. Even on our short walk through the sports centre to the park, the area generally continued to feel sad and there were some seriously odd characters around (I hope that doesn't sound too rude). It all felt a bit run down and abandoned and just definitely not as busy as anywhere else probably was today!

However when we reached the park, things looked up. Plant life was pretty, there were winding paths and a pond (although the map claimed it was a lake - awh) and dinosaurs! Here there were a few others strolling and despite the fact that it was trying to rain by this point, we still had an incredibly pleasurable amble about.

My first experience of gorgeous Canada Geese goslings. So fluffy!

Having admired the dinosaurs, we walked around the boating lake and on to other points of interest on the map; a maze, more water and the 'English Landscape Garden'.

So the maze was either a terrible idea or one of our best. The entire experience was spent in a confused state of frustration, terror and thorough hilarity. Apparently dogs find mazes even more befuddling than humans do. Voices travelling through endless rows of hedge, paths going this way and that but never leading anywhere, even as an adult it turns out there's a great deal of challenge in navigation.

'Seriously guys? It really took us this long to find the escape?'

Somehow, and we really don't know how, we finally found the centre where we sat with a great sigh of relief. On our way back to the car we then passed what once was a concert venue with a small area of water in front, lots of blossom and greenery. We found ourselves again at the top of the steps we had climbed to begin with, although this time we encountered two Sphinx we had not seen before. Several attempted photo opportunities later, we headed back to shelter as it began to rain.

Crystal Palace verdict? I'm glad to have been and I bet the park is even prettier on a sunny day. I am, however, grateful that I've never made the epic journey from North to South London for a day of it as I'm not entirely sure it's an experience that would have satisfied me for one of my days of solo exploration. I really think, from somewhere, the whole place could really do with some serious TLC.

I feel like this crow sitting atop a crumbling statue pretty much sums it up.

Pretty views on the drive home...