There are some events that just have to be booked as soon as you hear about them and lunch at the Houses of Parliament was definitely one of these. Why you may ask? Because it’s the first time they have ever let us commoners into the Peers dining room without a Lord or Lady to be our minder and keep us in order! Continue reading
As many of you will know I’ve been in Africa for 9 weeks working on a voluntary project in Ghana and then joining a tour of West Africa. It was an amazing adventure and I feel very happy that I played my part in building a primary school in a very hands-on way! Our tour took us on the roads less travelled in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia and Senegal and there are many stories to tell about these dusty red roads but they are for another time… Continue reading
This week’s highlights were a massive bar opening, a black cab tour and nosing around some beautiful private gardens – the usual great mix!
The Trafalgar Hotel (on Trafalgar Square of course) have revamped their rooftop bar and it is now the largest in London so they threw a brilliant party to celebrate its opening. The weather was a worry as it had rained on and off during the day but we were lucky and the clouds held off raining but gave us dramatic skies. The views over Trafalgar Square and toward the London Eye and Houses of Parliament are exceptional and add to that a great bar, lots of heaters, big umbrellas, a covered area with a second bar, it all adds up to a great venue. We were treated to champagne all night and a special performance by the lovely Beverley Knight in the stage/DJ area. Ice sculptures, dancers and fire throwers all added to the party atmosphere. What a great night!
Photos are: the ice sculpture; Trafalgar Square view; the outside and mobile bar!; Houses of Parliament and Big Ben; the London Eye and a gathering storm; Nelson’s column almost at eye level; sunset over London; and, the lovely Beverley Knight – yes I was in the front of the crowd!
As a special treat for a great group of London bloggers, John the Cabby (as he’s known on twitter @Johnthecabby) took us round his tour of London for a couple of hours. It’s always fun travelling in a cab and John has his own commentary as we pass by the great sights of London. Given the combined knowledge in the cab (the other 4 are masterminds – Laura, Ian, Tom and Matt), John’s challenge was to find something new to us all. He really excelled and even found a doorway which he’d not seen before – the entrance to a 17th prison just by Parliament! Thanks John for a brilliant morning!
It was Open Garden Squares Weekend so we set off with our trusty Oyster card and a £7.50 ticket giving us entry to every garden and tried to work our way through a list of gardens not normally open to the public. We strolled around: the residents’ gardens by Regents Park with a famous underpass formerly used by posh nannies looking to get their charges to sleep; a tiny garden at the Academy Hotel; a Japanese roof top garden at the University of London; a strip of garden along a side street trying to make the most of a precious piece of inner city green; a perfect garden square in Bloomsbury; a tranquil oasis just by the Mall; the palatial lawns at Marlborough House (with a royal pet cemetery!) and, the spacious private gardens of Cadogan Place. The last one was our favourite and not just because they had a jazz band and were serving freshly made Pimms! We bare touched the surface of the list of 200+ gardens but felt we’d poked our noses into some new areas and seen loads of wonderful plants and expertly cared for gardens.
Bye for now , Sue
A big event in my week was a tour of the inside of the Houses of Parliament. A pre-booked 75 minute tour led by a very well versed Blue Badge Guide (Noel) took us into the very heart of this extraordinary building. I’ve been meaning to do this for ages so we very pleased to finally poke my nose inside this seat of power. You can visit any Saturday at the moment as they are trialling Saturday opening in addition to the usual summer recess visiting days. You can walk through the route that the Queen takes when she opens Parliament past amazingly ornate decoration, huge paintings and numerous statues. The interior of the building was designed to tell the story of the country and, as the guide said, you could study the contents and designs for years. We spent some time in the House of Lords, resplendent in gold and red and then in the less flamboyant House of Commons in green. We saw where they vote in new laws, the 2 rooms to the right and left where the ‘ayes’ (the yes’s) and the ‘noes’ (the no’s) go and heard tell of the rush to get all the MPs into the house in time for the vote.The tour concludes in the Westminster Hall, an impressive and precious remainder of the original Palace of Westminster, built in 1097 with changes made in 1245, but which burned down in 1834. The building you see now is a Victoria edifice except for this huge Hall. which now used for receptions and layings in state – you may have seen pictures of the Queen Mother’s coffin there as the most recent. You can’t take pictures during the tour, just of the hall so you have to remember the rest! I’ve added an exterior shot across the Thames as it’s one of the great sights of London.
It’s a big time of year in London for art lovers with so many fairs and exhibitions and Hyde Park didn’t want to be left out so has set up a few of pieces from Anish Kapoor to delight us. The main piece is wonderful – a curved mirror which sits amoung the trees and reflects back toward Kensington Palace and catches the viewer in shot (yes that’s me with the camera!). The reverse is concave and reflects one back upside down. Kids and adults alike were having great fun with this work – what more can you ask from an artist? He’s also got a reflective witch’s hat in the park. I’m sure that’s not the real title but that’s what it looked like to me! As you can see from the photos it was a wonderfully sunny October day in the park and the deck chairs were full and many visitors had arrived on the new ‘Boris bikes’. These are bikes you can hire by the half hour from stands all across the centre of London. At the moment you have to subscribe online to use them but they plan to offer the option to just turn up and hire one and hopefully that will come in very soon as I want to have a go! Lots of photos posted in to try to show you the Kapoor work and a day in the park.