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London 2010

Elephant Parade

During our 2010 visit to London, as we were walking across St. James Park, we saw several large, colorful statues of elephants.  These were part of Elephant Parade London, an event designed to raise funds and increase awareness of the endangered status of Asian elephants, whose numbers have declined by 90% over the past 100 years.  The 2010 London Elephant Parade comprised 260 elephant statues that were on display for two months in various locations around London.  The parade ended with an auction of the top 30 elephants held on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.  Additional elephants were sold via an online auction.  In the process, approximately 3 million pounds were raised for Elephant Family, a British charity dedicated to saving the Asian elephant from extinction.  Above to the left is Kingdom by artist Rebecca Campbell.  We spotted this elephant at Sloane Square in Chelsea.  To the right is Gaia Elephant, who we found nearby on King's Road.  Gaia is the creation of artists Carolyn MacLeod, Kevin Darke, and Carlamaria Jackson.

In 2011 there will be Elephant Parades in Herleen (Netherlands), Copenhagen, and Singapore.  You can visit the Elephant Parade website to learn more about past, present, and future Elephant Parades.  There's also a webshop where you can purchase miniature replicas from past Elephant Parades, including London 2010.  We are the proud owners of a miniature "Tomato" by artist Kongchan Thanom, which appeared in the Amsterdam 2009 Elephant Parade.

Kew Gardens

I was at Kew Gardens during the Summer Festival that was held May 29 - September 5, 2010.  During this time, there was a Butterfly House located in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.  This provided an excellent opportunity to observe and photograph a variety of butterflies.



Hampton Court

Travel from central London to Hampton Court can be accomplished in 3-4 hours via boat or in 30-40 minutes via train.  While the boat trip would have been scenic, as well as the method of travel used when the first palace was built by Cardinal Wolsey (chief minister to Henry VIII) around 1514, we opted for the shorter train trip.  We were glad we did, for this gave us a full day to explore the large palace and extensive grounds.

The palace comprises the original Tudor structure, enlarged by Henry VIII after the property passed to him, and extensive additions in the Baroque style commissioned  by William III of Orange.

Starting with the grounds, we strolled through the formal gardens which date from the time of William and Mary, visited the maze and wilderness garden, enjoyed watching the swans with their new goslings on the lake, walked through the hornbeam bower, admired the pond gardens near Banqueting House, and checked out the Great Vine -- a remarkable grape vine planted in the 1700's which now yields over 500 lbs of grapes each year.

Within the palace walls, we visited the Great Hall (where Shakespeare's company performed), the richly appointed Chapel Royal, the Clock Courtyard, the Tudor-style garden in Chapel Court, the ancient oak spiral staircases, the royal apartments in both the Tudor and Baroque sections of the palace,  and William's Guard Hall and Dining Rooms.  We also enjoyed viewing artwork from the Royal Collection, which included ceramics and furniture, as well as tapestries and paintings.   In particular, the portraits of Henry VIII and his family painted by Hans Holbein and others, were interesting both historically and artistically.  However, the highlight of the interior palace for us were Henry's Kitchens (photo to the right), replete with engaging actors in costume and food historians happy to share their knowledge.  In these rooms, meals were prepared for banquets seating up to 600 in the Great Hall and for the approximately 1200 people who lived in the palace during the time of Henry VIII.
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