Tuesday, May 23, 2006 :::
After poking around a bit at what's happened in the Virginia blog world over the last week, I can say that it was the perfect time to be out of the country, away from a computer, and utterly disconnected from local political events.
I ought to make it a habit.
We did so much in such a small amount of time it's really hard to know where to start. But here are a few observations:
It rained every day. Which was good for London, because, like Virginia, they've been in the grip of a stubborn drought. The morning shows were taking calls and emails from viewers on ways to conserve water. Most of them were no-brainers. But a good friend who has lived there for over a decade says the problem isn't so much a lack of rain as it is a water system that leaks like a sieve. Sounds a lot like Richmond.
An English breakfast is an excellent way to start the day. My son is now hooked on fried toast. Fried toast...what a concept.
During the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, the band played "Singin' in the Rain." Because it was raining, I suppose.
Apsley House, the home of the Duke of Wellington, is magnificent. A staff member showed us a number of extras, and told us a few stories about the place that made it all the more worthwhile.
Our tour of Parliament was fun, and my son can now say he sat in the House of Lords -- if only on the floor. Apparently, we were also paged while there. But due to the commotion, only found out later that we had tickets to attend the Prime Minister's Question session. Regrettable to have missed, but how many Americans can say they've been paged in the House?
The Beefeater who guided our tour through the Tower obviously watched and memorized every episode of Benny Hill. Henry VIII's suit of armor has the largest cod piece ever created. We were also there on the anniversary of Anne Boleyn's execution. Every year since her death, someone has left red roses on her burial site.
The British Museum is overwhelming, and it's even more so when it's raining and every other tourist in the city has the same idea you do --"hey, it's raining, let's go to the British Museum."
The Magna Carta is worth seeing at the British Library. But Mrs. Leahy was more impressed with Jane Austen's writing desk.
The view at night from Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath is stunning - particularly when there are fireworks way across town near the Tower (part of the 30th anniversary concert for the Prince's Trust).
Think Virginia has traffic problems? Try getting across London during rush hour. Or any hour. Including Sunday.
I already miss wandering through Hyde Park.
But it's good to be home.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 5/23/2006