A diversion through St James’s Park

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This morning was one of those mornings when everything seemed to go perfectly — seamless merging into the traffic, green lights all the way and no rain despite the threatening clouds up above — and then it all came grinding to a halt.

I got to Horse Guards Parade only to find it was closed to traffic — and will remain so until the end of August. Why? There's an Olympic test event for the beach volleyball scheduled for 9-14 August and they are busy setting it all up. Why it has to be closed two weeks before and two weeks after is a puzzle, because surely all they're doing is building bleachers, which only take them a day or two when the Queen holds her Trooping the Colour activities — but what would I know?

Anyway, I ended up having to backtrack and cut across the middle of St James's Park instead. Cycling is banned in the park, so I had to wheel the bike along the central path. But it was such a pleasant way to start the day.

I haven't walked through St James's Park — the oldest park in London — in YEARS. It's so lovely and peaceful there, and the lake in the middle affords beautiful views that frame Buckingham Palace at one end, and Horse Guards Parade and the London Eye at the other.

I stopped on the bridge over the lake and fired off the snap above, while listening to the tourists chattering around me. ("Y'all, here's something I got on the plane for you to eat," as a man with the strongest American accent I've ever heard handed out mini Mars bars to a gaggle of young kids.)

The enforced detour, while annoying at the time, actually made my day. Sometimes you really do need to stop, slow down and smell the roses, as it were.

Total distance: 12.84miles (20.65km) | Ride time: 1hr, 10min and 25sec | Average speed: 10.9mph | Top speed: 20.7mph

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