I wonder if it's a (slightly) different variety or just blossoms in a different stage.
I don't know. Common throughout the UK where it is referred to as the 'Horse Chestnut'. This was taken a few years ago one year when the blossom was particularly luxuriant. Seems to respond to the annual climate - some years masses of blossom, others years not so much. according the exif, this taken on 30th April 2005.
yes, I guess that must be it (yearly variation) - and I have yet to figure out the difference between the horse chestnut (apparently rather unpalatable) and the other kind, which you can cook and eat (apparently)
"and the other kind, which you can cook and eat (apparently)" - yup, the Sweet Chestnut, which is collected and sold in the UK, a traditional Christmas treat, roasted in front of an open fire or purchased hot from vendors on the streets in the larger cities. In France they candy the sweet chestnut and sell as 'Marron glacé'
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Photo taken in Richmond, Greater London, UK
Misplaced? Suggest new location