Sweetbriar Dreams

So where shall we go on our journey today?

Friday, 7 February 2014

So, Where Shall We Go On Our Journey Today...The House of Lords, London

So, once again I have promised you my wonderful home town of London ... are you ready?  I'd best start with a warning as this post is picture and word heavy so, you know the drill, have you filled your tea pot and sitting with your feet up?  Believe me, I have done all the foot work for you (my feet are still throbbing!).  This was also the first real outing with my new 'alternative' camera as it is a lot smaller (a Canon IXUS 132 - from now on called 'Pixie'!) So, are you settled and comfortable?  Here we go... this is London calling...
I always say I'm a bit of an anorak when it comes to old buildings and architecture, so I was delighted and honoured by being asked to come along to see an event at the Houses of Parliament in the House of Lords.  I was actually going inside!  It's one of those occasions where I just wanted to be totally embarrassing and jump up and down as though I had just got the best Christmas present ever!  Yes, you can arrange to visit at any time but it's one of those things that I never got around to doing, and this occasion was certainly something that I really didn't want to miss.
We had to keep to a strict time table so checking the time was crucial throughout the day and good old reliable Ben was there as we approached, telling us that we were comfortably early and there was no need to worry.
Excitement and nerves were with me and my colleagues as we entered through the Peers Entrance, through the revolving door and then... we were in!  Through security and into a cloak room that seemed to whisk you to the Victorian times (can you imagine how at home I felt!!).  Lots of coat hooks with plates above saying 'Lord of...'.  Stained glass windows, Victorian tiled floors, oil paintings, old ticking clocks, fires and wood panels.  Yes, my eyes were out on stalks, trying to stop and drink in the beautiful architecture all around me but...  no camera allowed!  Can you imagine the frustration and temptation?!  For someone who likes to tell a story through photos, it was incredibly disappointing.  However, my memory banks were making room to absorb all that surrounded me.  The uniforms of the staff, the little nooks and crannies.  Oh so much beauty!  I have found a link where you can take online tours if you would like to see inside.  The link is here.
We walked with a colleague from one area to another where it was explained that the red carpet represented where you could walk for the House of Lords, the green for the House of Commons and the blue for Royal.  I could tell the Royal part as, yes, the air smelt of fresh paint! It was explained that you were not allowed to cross from one carpet to another.  Old, traditional, comfortable customs that are continuing.  Even the canopies outside where the ministers and Lords sit by the Thames - one area has green and white stripes and the other one is red and white.  Again, keeping the the Houses separate.  Each room, hallway and lobby were covered in paintings, stained glass, treasures and beautiful, beautiful chandeliers.  I can't do justice with my writing of this post to describe the grandeur, elegance and honour of being allowed to walk down these halls and corridors.
Lunch was to be served first in the Peers Dining Room.  My eyes were everywhere!  The table behind me had Betty Boothroyd and Lord Kinnock dining, and all around all Lords and Ladies meeting before the House sat.  The food was beautiful and the service brilliant - but human (yes even the waiters here can drop things on the floor!). Then, you know when you look at someone and think, is it?  No, it can't be! Don't stare! Let's look again... yes, he is walking towards the table... James Bond!... sorry, Pierce Brosnan!!  Yes, it really was, I don't know why, but he was there walking through the dining room.  A highlight for many female diners I can tell you!

Then, the time came, the reason why we were here.  We were escorted to the Peer's lobby through what can only be described as a wallpaper door that opened up.  We were led by a couple of ladies in white bow ties and tails.  Again, my eyes could just take in all the details of the architecture and then a tantalising glimpse through a door where you could see the familiar House of Lords chamber with the Lords and Ladies walking through to take their seats.  Everything fell silent and we were asked to move to a corner of the lobby. The speaker was processed in and then we were taken to a small door which led up some stone stairs, through a narrow red carpeted hallway with lots of small doors to our right.  The floorboards were creaking and cracking and conversation fell to a hush.  I felt that I was Alice in Wonderland and waiting for the adventure to start.  The lady who was looking after us put her finger to her mouth to make sure we were quiet and then slowly opened the small door.  We walked into the strangely familiar picture of a news programme, taking our seats in the gallery and ready for it all to start.  Our colleague was first in the order of the day and we watched and willed him to do well.  Now, I have included a link here to the Parliament TV site.  If you go to the 4 February and watch from the very beginning you will see some blobs walking into the gallery at the top middle left of the screen (I'm one of the blobs!).  We were incredibly proud, happy, nervous... every emotion was bubbling but the main one was honour, honoured to be witnessing this occasion.

If you are ever in London and want to take a look for yourself inside, there is a link here which gives details on how you can do this.

Official photos were taken and then we needed to leave our colleague to continue the order of the day.  The time was now our own and time to reflect on what had just happened.  Myself and my colleagues kept looking at each other and saying how serile it all was and it would take time to sink in.  A coffee was in order to quietly reflect and then yes, it had to be done, a ride on the London Eye!
I am very much like my Grandad and love the old as well as the new architecture.  Just looking up at this amazing feat of engineering makes my heart skip and the instant 'if only Grandad was still here' thoughts run through my head.  He never quite had the time to go on this but I would take photos all those years ago and he was amazed at what he saw.  His quote was "just imagine, I have been in every single building you can see!".
As we slowly rose into the London skyline, the familiar mixed with the strangers.  St Paul's - the 'hope' of London during the War.

The Shard... oh dear!  Urm, speechless!  What saves this is the Isle of Dogs behind and the wonderful Canary Wharf.  The sun started to go down and the atmosphere in London changes.
Buckingham Palace.
And then of course, the Houses of Parliament.
As a devoted Londoner, just a walk along the Thames is enough for me, breathing in the air, listening to the familiar sounds... and accent!  I always say to those I know who are going down to London for a meeting or a quick visit "Wave to the Thames for me!"  It's my happy place as you know.  The river flows through so many centuries of architecture and life both on the river and off.  It holds so many unknowns beneath the rippling waves but it carries on regally and softly.  I can look at it for hours, meandering through the different areas of London from the top of the London Eye just makes me feel like home.

The sun began to dip behind the buildings and London took on a favourite and comfortable feel.  This is the time I fall in love all over again, my heart swells for this place and then I find it difficult to tear myself away.

My eyes started to fill with tears as I walked over Westminster Bridge as I knew the journey back home was about to start.  It's times like this that I like to be alone, just stopping and looking over the bridges and letting the busy crowds pass me by.  I always feel that I am walking with my Grandad whenever I am in London and that is so comforting to me.
The memories that I took away on this day will remain with me for the rest of my life.  Yes my feet still hurt, my head bangs with information overload, but I can now watch the House of Lords on TV and say, I've been there, I've walked along the corridors and I have seen the internal architectural beauty.  I can now say I've walked in the footsteps of various members of my family through the decades and now know what they were describing.

My next London fix will be in a couple of weeks with my great teenagers.  This time with more comfortable shoes and clothes and Ben will not be able to rush us.  Can't wait!  You can take the girl out of London but not London out of the girl!

One of the places we will visit (on Miss Teenager's orders), is this pub just off Trafalgar Square. 
So, what do you think of 'Pixie' she did well didn't she? Not bad for a little camera (just a little tweaking on Picmonkey, but not bad at all).

If you have got to the end of this post, then you deserve a medal! With the lack of photography allowed inside the Houses of Parliament I have had to tell the story.  Give yourself a gold star and an English teacake!

Have a wonderful weekend, and keep safe to all those who are still suffering with this awful weather.  The ditches around my village are now full with water and we are waiting to see what this weekend will bring.  I am just grateful that the 4 February had some sunshine in London for a change to show that it isn't grey and raining most of the time!  Also, thank you all so, so much for your comments, following and visits over the last week.  I'm afraid I have been a bit lacking on the answering front and visiting your blogs.  I promise this will be rectified this weekend so I can catch up on what has been going on with you lovely people.  Now I will dip my hobbit feet and... relax!

Take care.

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  1. Wonderful tour!

  2. Lovely photo's made be feel quite nostalgic for London as well.

  3. Your photos are breathtaking, Chel. Seriously. Pixie did very well indeed. Xx

  4. Thanks for the trip to London, Chel. Your Pixie takes some great photos! :o)

  5. What an incredible day! That one will stay with you forever.

  6. As always wonderful pictures and it was like I was on a tour with you. LOVE it. Thank you.

  7. Great photos Chel - wonderful journey. I am just now reading Susan Branch's book on her trip to England in 2012 -A Fine Romance - you would love it!

  8. The photos that you were able to take were stunning, so I am sure that had you been allowed to take pictures inside they would have been great too. Your shots from the London Eye are amazing. So glad that you had a great day out and made so many lovely memories! xx

  9. What lovely photos! I loved my little visit to London. Thank you!

  10. Hi Chel, wow I loved the photos of London and the camera did a great job and so did you explaining everything! I felt a little tear in my eye looking at these pictures and miss London so much. I love the photos of the London Eye and you are so lucky to be going back again with your children. Have a nice weekend. Julie

  11. Oh my Chel...I am in awe of your photography skills! Stunning....simply stunning. Every single one...:) The sky is so amazingly blue and the architecture against the blue is just gorgeous. What a blessing that day must have been...:) I do hope your tootsies are feeling better! Enjoy your next trip with your teens! Have a lovely weekend....Vicky

  12. Fantastic photos and post. The last time I was in London England was back in the late 80s when I was over visiting my Nana in Cornwall and we did the Buckingham palace tour . WOW ! London just keeps growing doesn't it ? Me mum and dad may they RIP were both Brits Mum from Liverpool and dad from Hammersmith . Thanks for sharing and taking us along it was awesome . Have a good weekend !

  13. Chel, you could write a travelogue. Your photos area amazing and your description of the House puts one right there. I don't know if I could ever go up on the Eye. I don't like ferris wheels or heights and that structure is so much larger. You had a lovely day in London town. Thank you for telling us all about it. Have a lovely weekend. Hugs. Pamela

  14. Gosh...What a dream to be able to walk through and enjoy this amazing piece of history! And what glorious pictures! You are so blessed to be surrounded by such beauty! I can really relate to what you said about stepping back and just being on your own there for a bit to reflect....reflecting is key and ever so wonderful to do in this life....all the best friend! So glad you had an experience that will last a life time! Nicole xoxo

  15. A link of your blog to TripAdvisor would be perfect for future travelers to see. Excellent work! Your camera served you well.

  16. It sounds like you had such a wonderful day.

  17. Some beautiful shots - well done Pixie.

  18. Chel,
    Thank you for the wonderful tour of London - the city I long to visit one day! I so enjoyed your pictures and tour as visiting England is on my Bucket List! I look forward to your next tour; thanks again!

    Pat F.
    Las Vegas NV

  19. I so enjoyed reading this post and looking at the photos. I love London, and try to get down to visit when I can (the last time was in October).

    I haven't been on the Eye but have been to the top viewing deck of the Shard, which was amazing. I am already planning a Spring trip - hoping to take a rivercruise down to Greenwich and then to see the Olympic Park.


  20. I enjoyed your interesting post...and, did make it through to the end. Lovely photographs!

  21. London is full of nostalgia for me as well. I lived there at 16 for part of a year while my father was at the Imperial Defense College from the US. It hadn't occurred to me that a tour of Parliament was possible - I'd love to do that on my next trip!
    Wonderful descriptions - thanks for taking me back.

  22. Splendid photos and commentary which raises a question in my mind - Why don't I go to London more often?

  23. London is such a wonderful city, thanks for sharing it with us, Laura

  24. Enjoyed your post and lovely photos Chel. I also moved from a city (Glasgow) to countryside (East Yorkshire).

  25. I did go inside in a summer I spent a fortnight in London, and your post reminded of those memories. But I've never been on the London eye and I enjoyed the pictures very much, it was a little like getting in one of those huge bubles myself!

  26. Fiquei fã. Vou seguir.
    Bom fim de semana..

  27. The London Eye was one of my favorite things we did in London. It was cool to see everything from that perspective. Lovely post! The architecture is amazing there.

  28. Looks like you got lucky with the weather, a lovely change from the rain and grey theme. Lovely shots.

  29. I think you captured your excitement and described inside very well. It is so hard to not be allowed to use your camera, but sometimes it is better. I think you remember better. Loved seeing some of the London sights, brings back great memories.

  30. Chel, Chel, Chel, I had goosebumps reading your post and devouring your stunning pictures!! It is a wonderful city and like you I love the history most of all. Your peek inside parliament sounds amazing, as you set the scene perfectly. How exciting!!! I miss my walk into work with the London Eye towering above me. It's become such an iconic landmark now, and you captured it beautifully! I really must set a date to do my own walking tour of our great capital. Thanks to you I am now chomping at the bit x

  31. Although you weren't permitted to take photographs indoors, you have provided us with a myriad of beautiful, exterior shots; the brick work looks golden in the light.

    It's been awhile since I've visited London, but you helped bring back some fond memories, Chel.


  32. What truly magnificent photos. You were so very lucky to have been able to take this all in and share it. Wonderful architecture for sure and I'd love to ride on that giant Ferris Wheel. Thank you for sharing.

  33. These photos are truly gorgeous! I lived in London for 2 1/2 years before moving to Nottingham and I get really homesick for the place! It's lovely to see it again through this post! Lovely to connect on the Weekend Blog Hop with you!

  34. So many lovely photos, I just love London.

  35. You have some amazing shots, I love the different perspective you captured. And all with a small camera? Way to go.


  36. What a wonderful day you must have had! Total thrill!
    Your first photo of Big Ben against that incredible sky is just beautiful.

  37. Thanks for stopping by my post on the The Bone Church...even if it did creep you out lol. Loving this post on London. I just visited for the first time over New Year's.

  38. Wonderful pictures, there is something special about London, we love it. Was here at the weekend and be back down soon for my London marathon. Hoping to take in all the sites this year running around :) thanks for sharing at the weekend blog hop...

  39. Magnificent photos of London ~ your world for OWT ~ thanks,

    carol and artmusedog

  40. Awesome photos, regardless of the camera.

    Great to have you at "Oh, the PLACES I've been!"

    - The Tablescaper

  41. B R E A T H T A K I N G!

    OMGosh, I've been to that Pub! London is the pulse of the universe!


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