We had tickets for a tour of the Houses of Parliament last Saturday, but we heard just in time that many roads in central London had been closed off for an event. Undeterred, Sam drove to St. John’s Wood and parked the car near the Underground station; we decided to take the tube to Westminster from there as it is only 4 stops on the Jubilee Line.
I mentioned to Sam that before we got on the tube we might as well go and find the famous zebra crossing depicted on the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover, as it was only a short walk away. Sam wondered why he had to go and look at a zebra crossing, but went along with the flow of many tourists also heading to the same spot. Drivers trying to navigate the B507 were forced to stop for the hordes of people taking selfies as they walked, some barefoot, to and fro across the now somewhat worn crossing. It would have been rude not to walk in the footsteps of the Fab Four, but I don’t do selfies and I kept my shoes on. When it was time to go Sam decided he wanted to cross over the road too…
Then it was time to disappear into the bowels of the earth and catch the next tube. I don’t remember tube trains ever going so fast or being so noisy. I started to catastrophise that it might come off the rails. Thank goodness I don’t have to travel this way very often.
Westminster station was heaving, and so was the surrounding area. We passed by Mr Churchill’s statue (he would have sorted Brexit out), and then went and sat in the park next to the Houses of Parliament and ate our lunch. Nice views of the river!
We weren’t allowed to queue until after 2.30 and so took some photos outside while we were waiting, as photography was only allowed in Westminster Hall and St. Stephen’s Hall inside the building. Security was very tight, and an airport-like search took place before we were given access to Westminster Hall (the 600 year old roof there is totally self-supporting) to meet our tour guide. Here’s a few photos that we were allowed to take.
The green sculpture third down on the left mimics the Thames’ tides. When it’s low tide, only one light glows in the middle. As you can see, it was high tide when we were there.
The tour guide was a veritable fountain of knowledge. The tour of this beautiful building took about one and a half hours. Amongst other places we were allowed into the Queen’s robing room (and shown the cleverly hidden WC) and of course we were allowed into the House of Lords and the House of Commons, but we were told not to sit on the seats! Apart from a potted history lesson, an interesting fact I found out from our guide was that every Bonfire Night the Beefeaters from the Tower of London make a ceremonial search of Parliament’s cellars looking for gunpowder, and are given a glass of port for their trouble…
Tour over, we disappeared back to a pub in St. John’s Wood for dinner. A great day out. We learned that apparently if we ask our MP, he will give us free tickets to sit in the public gallery and listen to a debate when all the MPs return from their summer break. I’ll listen, just as long as it doesn’t involve BREXIT!