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#11 BEACH MUSIC: A time of tans, blonds and hot pants

Beach Music, an On the Street Where I Livestories is really a tale of two cities; San Juan, Puerto Rico and Santa Monica, California. It was originally published in the LA Times Sunday Magazine.

Beach Music We came to California from Canada, with a detour to Puerto Rico that lasted one endless summer of a year. A year in which I turned 15, and my hair turned blond from living in the sun. “Psst,” the boys and men would call after me in the blue-cobbled streets of San Juan. “Psst! Hey, blondie. Psst! Hey, cutie pie.” I was devastated when my parents said we had to go, that it was time to leave the island so that my older brother, Russell, could get a first rate education. The plan was to drive cross country from Miami and settle in San Francisco so that my brother could finish high school before going on to UC Berkeley. But, once we got there in the fall of 1968, we found that …

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 47: Kensington Palace

If it's Friday we must be back in London. Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings We're currently following the Central Line. Here are the previous days. This is Day 47.

Last week we visited the remains of the Japanese Garden at Hammersmith, left over from the Japan-British exhibit from 1910. Today we’re going to stop off briefly at the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park. Briefly because I want to spend more time in Kensington Park, where Kensington Palace awaits, as well as Princess Diana’s Memorial Playground. 

The Kyoto Gardens were given to London in 1991 by the city of Kyoto in honor of the longterm relationship between Japan and Great Britain. In addition to waterfalls, there are charming little bridges, stone lanterns and koi. And sometimes spectacular peacocks who stroll the larger park, notably built around the remnants of Holland Palace, now used as a youth hostel and the backdrop for summer theatricals.

Brief enough for you? Good. Let’s get on to Kensington Palace, the closest tube stop is Queensway on the Central Line. The entrance is on the north side of the park at Orme Square Gate. 

The Palace has been home to many Royals including Princess Di who lived in Apartment 8 from the time of her marriage to Prince Charles on July 29, 1981—remember how we were all glued to our TV screens watching what we believed was a fairy tale wedding to rival that of Camelot’s fabled couple?—until her death in 1997. As if we knew her, we were glued then too, mourning with most of the world as hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people laid over a million bouquets at the gold gates to the south of the palace. 

While we can’t tour Diana’s apartment, her spirit is everywhere, especially at the Memorial Playground where one can imagine her young sons would have loved to play.

Currently at the museum, through January 3rd, 2017 Diana’s presence can also be felt in the Fashion Rules, Restyled exhibit. A look at how Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales navigated the fashion ‘rules’ defined by their royal duties in their own style and manner, setting fashion trends of their own, the exhibit highlights 18 couture gowns from iconic designer Hardy Amies favored by Queen Elizabeth to Princess Diana’s designer of choice Catherine Walker. 

Catherine Walker designed the decolette revealing green velvet button up dress for Princess Diana to wear to formal dinners at Windsor Castle and Balmoral. Here, Princess Di wears it for a photo shoot with Vanity Fair. I love how the green makes her own eye color absolutely pop.

The palace isn’t just about Princess Di, of course. William and Mary, the only monarchs to rule England as a duo had purchased Nottingham House and engaged England’s most famous architect, Christopher Wren to enlarge the mansion into Kensington Palace in the 1690’s. When Mary died of smallpox in 1694 the work came to a stop but William ultimately returned to the project with his King’s Staircase being completed. The stairs are on the tour, as are the Queen’s State Apartments, and much more. Please check out the website; there’s so much to see and do there! 

Kensington is also one of the three parks where you’ll find Princess Diana’s Memorial Walk, a 7 mile trek over Kensington, Hyde Park and St. James Park. I’m sure ther walk is in my future but it’s not on today’s itinerary. In any case, I’ve included the link where you can download the entire route, complete with pictures.

See you next week?

Kyoto Garden
Holland Park, Holland Park Ave, London W11 4UA

+44 20 7361 3003

Kensington Palace
Kensington Gardens, London W8 4PX

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk

Counting the Fitbit steps

Day 1-46:                                                 342,840 steps/150.9 miles    

Day 46: White City to Kensington               7500 steps/3 miles

Total Imaginary Miles to Date               350,340 steps/153.9 miles

Connect to Joy Weese Moll’s British Isles Friday meme. 


  1. This really is a very good, and enjoyable, series. Well done, you!

  2. My must-see in Kensington Gardens was the Peter Pan statue. Which I got a kick out of seeing, but we found it remarkably difficult to photograph well.


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