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    Posted February 1, 2014 by
    London, United Kingdom
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Photo essays: Your stories in pictures

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    My best insider's tip for London: The Fab 5


    2014, February 1st. London, UK. Sure you been to London, many people have set afoot in this great city and if you are a tourist like I was over 20 years ago, you always want to have the feeling that you are discovering something new and authentic.  You want to come home and tell everybody how you discovered this new place that no one knows; “you really have to be a local to know and on that day, I was so lucky because…”  We have all been there and we can see the faces of our listeners in awe as we indulge in our story-telling.  It’s a great feeling!  This is one of those stories, for I want to share this tip from a “local”.  Sure I am!  I have been living in London since 1997.  So here is my tip: go to Kensington Gardens which is adjacent to Hyde Park in central London and on the North side you will find a set of majestic trees, on one part of the park, you will find a set of five trees grouped together standing mighty and tall, I call them “The Fab 5”.  “Why?” you ask. Because they are; they inspire me, their stillness, their silence, their sheer size make me reflect on my own insignificance and temporary journey through this world.  I go past these trees every day as I walk from South Kensington to Paddington where I work; yep, all five kilometres and all, both ways.  Every time I go past them, I am in awe and derive a sense of inspiration in their might and in their nature.  As the year goes by, I always try to remember, “how did these trees look back in the winter? ..and in the summer?”  Somehow I bring back the images from own memory, but I can’t share them with anyone.  Then, one fine day in January 2013, I decided to take a picture so I would remember how they looked as it had snowed in London and the Fab 5 looked magnificent.  Then thought, “well, why don’t I just take a picture every month and track their changes throughout the year so I can admire them and witness how they evolve as the months and seasons go by throughout the year; and I can even share the images and memories with everyone.  Then am able to have the conversation about how these trees have changed and through them relate them to our own lives as we shared the same calendar year”.  So I made up some rules, not many, but just enough to give my project structure: 1.- Take many pictures throughout the month and select the one that is most characteristic,  2.- Same time or thereabouts, in this case, all have been taken between 8:30-9:30 hrs am 3.- Same camera, my own smartphone, 4.- Same place 5.- Same angle.  And that was it.  I was ready to go and I went about my project faithfully every week, every month till I completed the twelve months and for the first time, be able to see how the “Fab 5” evolved through 2013.

    You know, Kensington Gardens is truly a jewel and I regard it a treasure in the centre of one of the iconic cities of the world.  The good people of the Royal Parks who care for them do a fantastic job so all of us, the citizens of the world, can enjoy them.  These trees also have some amazing history as related by The Kensington Gardens office. “These trees are approximately 150 years old and are some of the tallest of their kind in central London, they belong to the species of Aesculus Hippocastanum “Baumanii” also known as horse-chestnut or conker tree”.  According to Woodland Trust, these trees are originally native to a small region of the Pindus Mountains and Balkan mixed forests of Southern East Europe, introduced to Britain in the 1600s.  They can grow to 35 meters tall, and can live up to 300 years.  The “Fab 5” are possibly cited in “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens”, a novel by J.M. Barrie published in 1906.  In this novel there is a map which marks “Cecco Hewlett’s Tree”, which is located in the area of the cited group of trees”.  These, I call the “The Fab 5”.

    Next time you are in the area, come by and say hello to “Fab 5” and pay homage to them. I am sure they will greet you with their quiet exuberance and as you move past them.  They will wave to you aided by the wind. They are simply my favourite trees, “The Fab 5”.  And that my friend, is my best insider’s tip for London, one that you “could only possibly know if you are a local”. Written by Daniel Gurrola

    To view all twelve photographs visit my page in Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/61478143@N04/sets/72157639938055105/

    To view more of my photos visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/61478143@N04/sets


    Also Visit the Royal Parks Facebook page for Hyde Park

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