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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 …

British Isles Friday: Parakeets in the Park

Parakeets in the Park

On a beautiful day in May, 2017 my husband and I walked through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. It’s really not that easy to tell where one ends and the other begins. We were looking for the Peter Pan statue (next week’s post) when we came across a small clearing cluttered with people holding their arms in the air, offering perches for surprisingly green birds fluttering in the air. Parakeets, and so prevalent, and with so many people standing about in their midst I stupidly assumed this must be some sort of birder club gathering. Ding dong me! I didn’t know the birds were wild and the people were just regular folks like us trying to get a better look. 

Doing a little post-trip homework I discovered the parakeets are so abundant in the park—and the inner mile they’re actually considered a bit of a nuisance by some people! I wish I’d known before the trip that all I had to do was bring a slice of apple and I could get the birds to land on me too!

I thought this woman had the magic touch. I think she just had apples.

According to the Londonist ‘‘The birds are obviously not indigenous to Britain, but nobody really knows how they got here. Some say they escaped a film set, or were released in the Great Storm of 1987. Rumours that Jimi Hendrix set free a breeding pair on Carnaby Street as part of a swinging 60s stunt are untrue — at least according to his girlfriend of the time, Kathy Etchingham.”

If you’re going to London and want to see the parakeets, here’s how the Londonist says to get there. (My husband and I took a much more winding roundabout path)
1. Leave the tube at Lancaster Gate (Central line).
2. Buy an apple from Hyde Park Superstore. It is not a superstore, but it does sell nice apples, and the fellow behind the counter was pleasant.
3. Cross the road into Kensington Gardens. Follow the path along the right-hand side of the lake until you pass the Peter Pan statue.
4. A few paces further on, you'll find a notice board about the wildlife. It does not mention the most obvious, green, squawksome wildlife.
5. At the sign, head right, towards the nearest set of bushes and trees.
6. Reveal your apple.
7. You will be covered in parakeets about 2.3 seconds later. And possibly a pigeon.

Have you seen the parakeets in the park? Aren’t they spectacular?

Hook up with Joy Weese Moll’s British Isles Friday meme for more British-themed posts.


  1. Ha! Good to know. We head to London next week. I'll buy an apple and see if I can find them.
    Thanks for all your support as we attempt this life change. I haven't been around much, but I'll try harder.

  2. I've been meaning to write about this, with a similar headline, for ages; but your photos are better than mine and you've undoubtedly done a better job on the text too. I didn't know about the apples! They certainly make a lot of noise. I also wrote about the Peter Pan statue on another blog and keep meaning to re-post it - but obviously won't for awhile. Amazing - I lived and worked in and around London for years and never saw either the birds or the statue until fairly recently, on a visit. You're right, it's not easy to tell where Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens start/end!

  3. I loved our day in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, but totally missed the parakeets.


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