You just read about Here for the Drama by Kate Bromley so now we are going to head to Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens and many more places our heroine, Winnie spends time in while she’s in London for work. If this is your first time here, I’ve read lots of books set in London and use the books to inspire a unique tour of the city.
A quick recap of the book: Winnie heads to London with her boss, Juliette, a world-renowned playwright to put on her most famous play. Winne also rescues an adorable dog and meets an oh-so-charming Brit named Liam.
Let’s begin, shall we?
London has SO many beautiful royal parks and a lot of the action in Here for the Drama takes place in parks. Character Juliette’s production of The Lights of Trafalgar is put on at the Open Air Theatre at Regent’s Park and Winnie spends some time in Hyde Park and goes near Kensington Gardens, which is good enough reason for us to explore it, I think.
Winnie also visits many other popular sites to see in London and I will show many of them in this post. Here for the Drama by Kate Bromley is such a fun book that will transport you to London. Its witty style often had me smiling and laughing. I definitely recommend picking up this book.
*This book was gifted in exchange for a fair and honest review.
To the action!
We’ll start where much of the action takes place and while I did not bravely don a touristy London shirt, I did put on some comfy shoes to get me over to Regent’s Park.
One of the eight royal parks in London, Regent’s Park shouldn’t be missed. I was in awe as I strolled through Queen Mary’s Rose Gardens. I couldn’t believe it was free. Regent’s Park began as a royal hunting ground under Henry VII and now can be enjoyed with its array of gardens, lakes, and canals.
I would have loved to have seen a production at the Open Air Theatre, however, I had another theatre outing planned for this trip inspired by Here for the Drama so we will just have to be satisfied by a peek into the outdoor theatre.
I heard Celine Dion’s It’s All Coming Back to Me Now playing from inside and I wished I could run to the theatre to dramatically lip-synch to the song. When I went to peek through the very small opening through the fence, other people copied me out of curiosity. Sorry, everyone, no sightings of Prince William and Duchess Kate here.
It looks like a fabulous area for a theatre. Prior to seeing it, I had envisioned only the theatre being there but it looks like they’ve designed a whole experience back there with multiple dining options and a bar. Check out all of their options including a fabulous sounding Picnic for Two at openairtheatre.com.
I already brought us to Queen Mary’s Rose Gardens during our With Love from London Literary Date, but I’d love to show off some more of this gorgeous area.
Here’s a slideshow from Regent’s Park for you to enjoy:
The area that has the lawn chairs is one spot you’d have to pay for. It is about three pounds for an hour and the price goes up depending on how long you want to lounge around.
I absolutely love taking pictures and my love of photography is a big reason why I started this blog, but I’m realizing that video might help to give a more full representation of the feel of an area.
With that being said, check out my video from Regent’s Park!
Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens
Our heroine in Here for the Drama heads to the Italian Gardens in Hyde Park. Winnie had a coffee with her but I didn’t see a cafe on the way to Hyde Park and started to crave one hard. l could think of nothing sweeter than a coffee while relaxing in beautiful Hyde Park.
Lo and behold…
The Italian Gardens has its own cafe. I was thrilled.
Relaxing in this spot was pure magic. I imagined myself living here and this was a spot I often came to just relax, read a good book, and feel good about my life. Have you been to the Italian Gardens in Hyde Park?
Check out the Italian Gardens in all its glory-
Hyde Park combined with Kensington Gardens is the largest royal park in London and has many great areas to spend time in. I loved my time in the Italian Gardens but you could also enjoy Serpentine lake, a bird sanctuary, and more wildlife, the Diana Memorial Fountain, great statues, arches, and other memorials…and Kensington Gardens is right nearby.
You could spend 5 days in these parks and still wouldn’t be able to see it all. Or maybe that’s just me because once I sit in a beautiful spot with a good book, I won’t move. Others say you could see it all walking around in just a few hours.
With Kensington Gardens, my main goals were to see Kensington Palace and the new Princess Diana statue.
Queen Victoria, who was raised at Kensington Palace, sits right outside it, and did you know her mother insisted her hand be held whenever going downstairs? She lead an isolated childhood where her mother and comptroller, Sir John Conroy, devised the “Kensington System” which was a set of rules they used on her with the end goal of making her completely dependent on them.
They wanted all the control but pity for them it didn’t work on Victoria and she became Queen. Once married, she sent her mom packing and Sir John Conroy had nothing to do with her reign, thankfully.
How do I know this? When I returned from London, I became obsessed with British royalty and watched a ton of movies, frequently pausing them to fact-check. If you’re looking for a good movie to watch, I definitely recommend Young Victoria starring Emily Blunt.
Kensington Palace on the outside wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I didn’t get to go inside. However, the area where Princess Diana’s statue is so beautiful.
The plaque outside her statue states that Diana loved the Sunken Gardens and often stopped to talk to the gardeners. There’s a poem chosen by her sons at the foot of her statue:
These are the units to measure the worth
Of this woman as a woman, regardless of birth.
Not what was her station?
But had she a heart?
How did she play her God-given part?
The whole garden has a romantic style with the Cradle Walk surrounding it and as you walk along you get different vantage points of Princess Diana’s statue through these leafy arches.
I couldn’t just pick one picture to show so enjoy this slide show of multiple views. My book review sneak peek also showed a gorgeous picture of the statue and gardens at a distance.
And here’s one last view of Kensington Palace through one of the leafy arches:
I had wanted to have afternoon tea at Kensington Palace Pavilion, which I heard was good, however, I arrived too late. I believe it was closing around 5 pm. So if you ever visit, do get the afternoon tea for me, will you?
There’s so much more to see in Kensington Gardens as well. I had also wanted to visit The Peter Pan Statue and The Albert Memorial, but I didn’t get a chance to. Next time!
To learn more about Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens and all the other royal parks, visit royalparks.org.uk.
With lots of little doggies off leash, I was hoping to rescue one as Winnie did but alas, I did not. Oh darn!
Instead, I continued on to follow Winnie’s path by seeing all the top sites in London.
The London Eye
I do enjoy heights but at £32.50 a pop, I decided to save my pounds and admire it from afar.
The Tower of London
The Tower of London is an amazing experience. I think I was here for around five hours! I have a lot to share about it but I apologize that I’m just teasing it on this literary date. It will be featured more prominently in a literary date to come.
Until then, you get one more peek…
Okay, it’s embarrassing to admit but before going to London, I wasn’t quite sure what Big Ben looked like. I knew it was a giant clock but still wasn’t sure I’d know it if I saw it. When I stepped out of the tube, all of a sudden, this enormous, magnificent clock tower was before me. There was no mistaking it, I was in front of Big Ben. That Ben really is BIG. The sun was so bright that Ben was backlit and I was in awe.
This is my first look at Big Ben but none of my pictures or even this video could capture the enormity of it. You have to see it in person.
Winnie, when she sees Big Ben for the first time, captures my feelings about the moment perfectly.
…I stop in my tracks. Big Ben towers ahead just in front of us. It’s crystal clear and all lit up against the subtly darkening sky, and for a second, I forget to breathe. “Wow,” is all I manage to say. I continue to stare, lost in its timeless beauty and still overcome that I’m even standing here. My heart feels as light and bright as Peter Pan’s, like at any moment, I just might fly away.
The next part of my Here for the Drama literary date will take us to another must-see site in London, but first I’d like to highlight the hotel I stayed at and the complimentary breakfast they provided. I stayed at The Caesar Hotel, which is near Paddington station and a few other convenient tube stations.
Complimentary might not be the right word since, in my booking, I paid for breakfast to be included. After I did that, I read tips from other travelers not to book hotels with breakfast included because you end up not partaking in it. The idea of eating at a nice cafe in London does sound lovely, but I ended up being happy with this option for the convenience and my enjoyment of the meals.
I was able to eat here every day except one day when I had to leave too early in the morning. That morning I paid extra for a takeaway breakfast.
I was happy with my breakfast selections because they had a whole buffet available and then I also had menu items to choose from. On my first day, I tried their “vegetarian” English breakfast but truth be told, it wasn’t too great. When I finally went the cheese omelet route, I had the perfect breakfast to start my day. Washed it all down with cucumber water and coffee- perfection! The staff there were all so incredibly sweet.
I used booking.com to book my hotel because I would have been able to cancel it a day or two for a full refund before my trip if I needed to. Thankfully, I did not need that option.
Staying at the Caesar Hotel was perfect for my needs. A small, clean room and great bathroom. The bonus is that it’s right near Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens!
Now that we’ve had a good breakfast, let’s head to our next spot…
St. Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s is the sight of Princess Diana’s wedding, a wedding right out of fairytales. It is a beautiful cathedral. I did a guided tour through London Walks for this site. Thank you to travel expert Kathy from Tasty Itinerary for telling me about these tours. There are so many different guided tours to choose from even some that include a tour on the Thames River. I thought I would do at least two during my trip but sadly only ended up doing this one. It was a great one though, their guides are so knowledgeable.
St. Paul’s does offer its own guided tours with admission and audio guides as well, so in retrospect, perhaps I should have chosen a different London Walk but I did really enjoy it so no regrets!
I learned all about the history of the cathedral including the architect, Christopher Wren, charged with the redesign after the original burned down. Apparently, they thought Wren was taking too long with his plans, and his original designs also were rejected but still displayed at the cathedral. We were also told the incredible story of the “firewatchers” that were put together by Churchill to protect the cathedral during WW2. London was bombed for 57 consecutive nights and impressively, the cathedral survived.
Back to the book…do you think I walked down the aisle like Princess Diana about to marry Prince Charles?
Why yes, yes, I did. Okay, maybe I wasn’t so obvious about it and maybe it was more in my head, but I did it.
Isn’t it absolutely gorgeous? I don’t think we know exactly how much Christopher Wren’s designs reflected in the completed cathedral but either way, the English Baroque-style cathedral is stunning. Also, for over 300 years, the dome was the tallest structure in all of London. Quite impressive.
I also climbed the dome but that adventure will be saved for another literary date. All I’ll say is the climb was quite the journey and I loved the views!
Now I’ll get to the big letdown of this literary date…:(
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
I had tickets for King Lear at this famous theatre. I was so excited, with my ticket, I also purchased a prosecco and three extra pounds got me a cushioned seat. Oh yes, I splurged big for this night. My tush was ready to revel in this outdoor theatre, I wanted to hold my prosecco up to the stage and you better believe I would have taken a picture of that cheers. My caption would have been, “Cheers, to my date with Shakespeare!”
After St Paul’s, I walked across the Millenium Bridge, bid St. Paul’s adieu, stepped off on the other side, and saw the magnificent Globe Theatre. I had time to kill so I had a couple of things to do before coming back to the theatre, I spent more time than I really cared to at the Tate Modern and then strolled up to the theatre to find out…”We sent an email.” What!?
I dropped to my knees, looked up to the heavens, and cried, “Nothing will come of nothing.” As I acted out a scene from King Lear, I pleaded with them to let me take the stage in that actor’s place. I thought, “This could be my big break.” They just looked at me and let me know how I could get a refund.
Bye bye prosecco and adieu to Shakespeare, we were not meant to be tonight.
Despite this total letdown, I was determined to rectify this literary date situation. Here for the Drama is all about the theatre so I just had to see a show. Not just for my literary date needs but because I LOVE the theatre. I may have told you once or 3000 times that I’m a former actor myself so I love seeing plays. I would love to go back to London and do more of a theatre tour.
Anyway, for this trip, and this literary date, I decided I needed to see a show in the West End. It definitely ties in perfectly with Here for the Drama since Winnie did this as well.
So later in the week, I went to Leicester Square and purchased a discounted ticket at one of the booths there.
It does look mouthwatering, doesn’t it? I ate at Zizzi and was so happy to see veggie meatballs on the menu. Truth be told though, as good as it all looks, it was just okay. Still, I appreciate that London restaurants have multiple vegetarian options. Not just some random bean burger that they carelessly throw into a menu, but menu items that actually sound appealing. It’s beside the point that it wasn’t very good (ha!), I just really appreciated the effort.
This restaurant also has a very cool feature where you can use a QR code to order items and then the waiter will serve it all. It’s a good way to get things started when the server is busy elsewhere.
Shall we get to the theatre, lovelies? This will be our last stop in our Here for the Drama literary date.
The Woman in Black
This spooky ghost story has been playing for three decades in the West End. I barely knew anything about it, I heard “ghost story” and from the title figured I’d be supporting a female actor, so that was enough for me. Turns out, it’s mainly a two-man show, yes men, not women. Silly me! That’s okay. They were both great actors. I was happy to support the men too.
This show was very well done that really gets going towards the midway point and has a lot of great thrilling moments. I was holding my breath at a few different points. So much fun! Spookerrific!
All good things must come to a close. This is it for my Here for the Drama literary date. I hope you had as much fun as I did at Regents Park, Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens. Hope you enjoyed the peek at the London Eye and the Tower of London. I also hope Big Ben didn’t put a kink in your neck but if he did, hopefully, the heavens shone down on you while at St. Paul’s Cathedral thus providing instant relief. If this sounds ridiculous, we can blame the Shakespeare we didn’t see at the Globe for my rudimentary prose.
Thankfully, The Woman in Black saved the day and my theatrical literary date. I had a blast immersing myself in the Here for the Drama literary world in London. Thank you all for reading.
More literary dates in London coming soon on the blog!
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