From Oxford Street's bustle to the serenity of Regents Park

A few weeks ago I headed up to Oxford Street after lunch - I'd read many tweets about the Roof Garden at John Lewis celebrating their 150 years and wanted to see it for myself.  It's a lovely space and is open until 31 August if you get the chance to stop by (for more information see the John Lewis site).

The views up and down Oxford Street and across London were amazing, but you'll not be surprised to know it was the greenhouse that really held my interest. But first a glimpse of that view:

The greenhouse was inspired by the nursery and water garden at Longstock in Hampshire.  It's part of the Leckford Estate - which is still owned by the John Lewis Partnership - and was created in the 1940s by John Spedan Lewis who was a keen botanist and gardener.

It looks as if I've found another garden to add to my "To Visit" list but this one's going to need some careful planning as it only opens the first and third Sunday's of the month with all proceeds from the opening going to the charity of the day.  For more information see the Longstock Park website.

The garden is in Stockbridge, Hampshire so if you're close by and visit - or if you've visited already - please let me know how it was.

After a rather large slice of chocolate cake and buying a couple of pairs of summer sandals - my much loved and well worn silver jewelled sandals had broken that morning (what timing!) - I decided on a stroll up to Regents Park through Marylebone.

I like to walk up (and down) Marylebone High Street but I also like some of the less busy streets behind Oxford Street.  This Lacoste shop front near Duke Street made me smile:

It wasn't long before I arrived in Marylebone High Street, which has a completely different feel to the Oxford Street bustle.  Don't get me wrong, it's still busy but there are many independent shops, pubs and eateries here which has a completely different feel to the commercial shopping areas, and you'd be (almost) forgiven for thinking you weren't right in the centre of London at all.

But then you hit the Marylebone Road (aka the A501) and you know you're in Central London! 

Before crossing the road to head towards Regents Park and green space and tranquillity I saw this sculpted panel to Charles Dickens on the side of the St Marylebone Parish Church.  You'll see that Dickens wrote "six of his principal works" while living close by and the main characters are depicted in the panel.

I've got five of the six:

The Old Curiosity Shop, A Christmas Carol, Martin Chuzzlewitt, Dombey & Son and David Copperfield.

So onto Regents Park.  I approached via York Gate and was glad I did - just look at the magnificent gates.  No sooner was I through the gates I was in the rose garden and the smell was intoxicating - no wonder there were plenty of people making good use of the deckchairs!

I was meeting up with friends for a game or two of softball, so having located myself of the map I set about finding The Hub and Sports Facility.  Regents Park is huge - it's London's largest green space and covers 395 acres, so I didn't want to be going the indirect route!

My route took me from the Rose Garden or Queen Mary's Gardens towards the Garden Café - which you'll be surprised to learn I didn't go in, although I was very tempted by an ice cream... but that chocolate cake from earlier was rather large - and then towards and over Longbridge.

The views of the lake and its algae were stunning, and I couldn't help but pause and be pleasantly distracted and take a photo or two!

All in all it was another successful afternoon Exploring London, especially because I managed to pick up a couple of pairs of sandals, eat chocolate cake, have an ice cream (yes I gave in and bought one when I reached The Hub), meet up with friends, play some softball - even managing to hit the ball - and finish the evening in a local hostelry. 

...Yes, I've another pair very similar to this!

So it was a great evening too - even better for getting my new shoes home safely!