London

5 Sep

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What you get up to on a short break to London is always going to depend on your funds. You don’t need me to tell you that there are some magnificent places to visit. Unfortunately, most of them cost big time. While we were quite prepared to spend more than usual on this part of our trip, some of the entrance fees are eye watering.

We did a lot of preparation in deciding exactly what we wanted to do. Greenwich and the Maritime Museum, “We Will Rock You” at the Dominion Theatre, The National Gallery (me) and the British Museum (Neil) were all must dos. Top of our list, however, was to see inside the Houses of Parliament. With that in mind, Neil had emailed our MP in advance and asked if he could arrange a tour. Not only could he arrange it but he was going to show us round himself! I might be easily impressed but I was, well, VERY impressed with this idea. Presenting our letter to security at the entrance as we walked past all the other tourists gawping at Big Ben made me unbelievably smug! Hyacinth Bucket comes to mind.

David Hanson met us in the Central Lobby – you know the circular room you see the BBC interviewing politicians in when they are about to go in for some big debate, the room that gives the name to ‘Lobbyists’. We followed the route the Queen takes to the House of Lords when she attends the State Opening of Parliament to give her annual speech, saw the bronze statues of former Prime Ministers and the painting of the momentous occasion when the Speaker of the House refused to answer Charles I’s questions. We also stood on the spot where the same king was sentenced to death and where Oliver Cromwell who signed the death warrant (which we also saw) had his long dead body strung up until it fell apart when the dead king’s son (Charles II) returned to the throne. I tell you, there is such history in every stone.

Being a guest of an MP also meant we could go out onto the terrace overlooking the Thames where members go for a little R&R. Mr Hanson introduced us to Denis Skinner who was there chatting to Kevin Maguire, the Associate Editor of the Daily Mirror. Name dropping, don’t you just love it?! 

For me, the highlight was standing at the despatch box in the House of Commons. Yes, the very spot where every Prime Minister since Winston Churchill has stood to address the house. Not only did we stand there we were able to put our hands on the box, the front corners worn smooth from the sweaty palms of Ministers being grilled by the house. Next time we see Cameron leaning on that very box it’s going to feel pretty weird!

But it didn’t end there. Oh no. Having stood with us, inches from the Speaker as he paraded into the Commons with the Mace, Mr Hanson left to take his seat and we headed up the narrow staircase to the Visitor Gallery clutching the passes he had procured for us. William Hague was answering questions on Foreign Affairs including what the Foreign Office was now going to do about Syria following the recent vote not to bomb it. Jack Straw, Glenda Jackson and Keith Vaz were there to name-drop a few. And our marvellous MP gave us a little wave. 

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Neil at Greenwich

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The caravan site at Crystal Palace

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One Response to “London”

  1. Leenjoan September 5, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    Wow!!

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