Making my first visit to the UK in April of this year, I was delighted to see flowers raising their colorful heads out of doors. These were thriving, not in a conservatory or greenhouse, or inside in someone’s window, but bravely outside, in all the elements, in London. We had left behind, not exactly the frozen tundra, but an American landscape where riotous blooms of flowers would not appear until late June or early July, and it had been a long winter.
We spent nearly 10 days in London and we were quite lucky with weather. Very little rain and much more sunshine than we were expecting. I took a photo of these lovelies through the bus window, near Hyde Park, growing in a divider strip in the very busy street.
I am a curious person, and I like to get my terminology right, when I can. As someone said, “Britain and America are two nations divided by a common language.” (It was possibly George Bernard Shaw or possibly someone else entirely.) Most of us know that elevators in the UK are “lifts”, exits are marked “Way Out”, and you need to “Mind the Gap” in the Tube, or “Mind your Head” in some old stairwells. Oh there was the BEST old stairwell in the old pub, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, in the City. I bumped my head at least twice. Perfect. Stair steps hollowed out by centuries of footfalls. Really, it was rebuilt in 1667 after the 1666 Great Fire of London. Old. Sorry, major digression. As I was saying.
Aware that very probably what I photographed was not named a median or divider strip but something else entirely, I spent a measure of time on the internet, researching. Writers are most skilled at turning their attention away from whatever writing task they have assigned themselves to a well rationalized Google session. I will not now further digress into the additional quick Google searches sparked by my original results. Perhaps another day.
Back to the topic. I learned that this extensive, concrete bordered dividing space in a major London street is termed the “center reservation.” I never would have guessed that. My first reaction is that this sounds so formal. Not nearly so simple and direct as Way Out. No, this is land reserved in the center of a busy thoroughfare for the sheer benefit of flowers. Well, not to mention preventing head on collisions. Center reservation. This makes me smile. It pleases me because this feels so much more refined, more British, somehow more literary than just calling it a divider strip or a median.
So, have you seen any good center reservations lately? Any pretty blooms? Or butterflies? Or great pubs? Say, where is your favorite sidewalk café? Does it have a beautifully landscaped view? Where is your favorite pub, and how do I find it? Pint or a glass of wine, anyone?
We had the best lunch in that old pub I mentioned. Wait, I have to go Google local wine bars. I miss London pubs.