You can find the map for today’s 7.04 mile walk here. 23 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.
Today was a bit of a hodgepodge. Lots of different stuff to show you but no real connections so I guess I will give you the slide show version.
First of all, horses are always a good way to start the day. The neighbourhood I live in has one of the few police horse stables left in London and I love hearing them clop up and down the street every day for their walks. Its one of those great things about London. There are horses everywhere (one of the funniest things I have seen was a cyclist getting pulled over by a police officer on horseback).
So yeah. It’s great having horses around so much. I love it!
Another great sight today was the rear-end view of the Palace of Westminster (aka the Houses of Parliament). Hardly anyone seems to go down to the end of the palace apart from those who work around here. It’s so calm and quiet, and the views are wonderful. I particularly enjoyed Abington Street Gardens (just next to the Jewel Tower) and Victoria Tower Gardens along the river.
Speaking of the river…on this walk it finally sank in that I am actually about to cross it! I sat and ate lunch on a bench overlooking the water, and I started to get ridiculously excited about nearly being done with the north section of this project.
Until that moment, I had had mixed feelings about heading south. It is totally new territory for me. I have only seen the tiniest sliver of it and that is really exciting but also really intimidating. I have no idea what I will find over there. It’s a total blank in my mental map. While I was looking across the river at the south bank, I started to see all kinds of things that looked interesting, and I got so excited about getting over there to explore it.
So that’s something to look forward to!
Right. Moving on.
After lunch, I found myself in Dean’s Yard, the square in the middle of Westminster School. This is one of London’s oldest and poshest schools. It is basically a breeding ground for Oxbridge students, since it boasts the highest entrance rates of any secondary school or college in the nation. Big name drops include: Christopher Wren, John Locke, Jeremy Bentham, A. A. Milne and seven Prime Ministers.
It is also famous for this bit of grass.
This lawn as known as Green. Not the Green. Just Green.
Are you starting to get a feel for the poshness yet?
Anyway, legend has it that the reason we are all getting more drunk than usual these days is because of this place. This Green (I just can’t do it without an article) claims to be the birthplace of modern football (which explains why England did so well in the World Cup) and is off-limits to anyone apart from Westminster students playing football or cricket.
This is where it all kicked off; where they got the ball rolling. It is sacred ground, the birthplace of a world-wide sensation, something to be cherished and honoured as part of Britain’s outstanding sports heritage. No trespassers allowed.
(Yes, of course I walked across it. It’s like you don’t know me at all.)
Next up, we have another great British tradition: the pub.
Not your average pub…a real pub.
The Speaker is very clear about it’s intentions. They are proudly a no kids, no sports, no music, no fruit machines, no TVs pub. It’s all about the beer and the conversation.
I am guessing this means it is generally full of grumpy old men moaning about the pace of life today but, sadly, it was closed at the time I passed by so I can’t verify. I will definitely go back to find out.
They also share a pleasant story on the plaque outside:
In the early days MPs were allowed to eat and drink in the Chamber, and were often seen eating apples, pears, oranges and biscuits. But no-one could match Speaker Charles Wolfran Cornwall, who would drink potfuls of port and take snuff which he kept beside his Chair.
Before long, nature would prevail, but speakers were not allowed to leave the Chair during debate, so Cornwall arranged for curtains to be put up and a commode fitted beneath his green leather chair.
The curtains would be drawn, the House would talk on and, in due course, the curtains would be pulled back and the debate continued as if nothing had happened.
Isn’t that sweet?
I also learned from their signs that the Speaker of the House of Commons doesn’t “speak”. That is, he doesn’t give speeches or participate in debates in the House. He isn’t a member of a political party or a minister of the Crown. His job is to speak on behalf of the Commons to the monarch and to control the House with “wit and wisdom” in moments of excitement or anger.
Historically, the job of the Speaker was to speak to the king directly, even with frank honesty when necessary. Having done his duty, he was also likely to be imprisioned or killed when he hurt the king’s feelings. Slightly confusing role, that.
Today I also found the headquarters of Channel 4 News. What caught my eye was, obviously, the big colourful 4 out front. You can’t tell from this still shot but the 4 is built in such a way that it actually dismantles as you move around it, just like it does in their moving logo. I enjoyed that quite a lot. (The taxis waiting for me to get out of the road while I played with the illusion probably didn’t like it so much.)
When I got home, I read that the 4 was re-branded with these colours in support of gay rights during this year’s Olympics in Sochi. The station also made a video about the issue that you can watch here, but I’ll give you the best screen shot from it to save you the time.
I am all for gay rights and having a flag to fly over a necessary cause, but can I say a thing? I was actually kind of annoyed to learn that the 4 was pretty and colourful for a political agenda. I kind of want a rainbow to be a rainbow again once in a while. You know, those beautiful, magical colours in the sky whose only purpose is to be pretty and make us smile? No politics. No statement. Just colour for the sake of colour.
I went to Turkey recently and my boyfriend and I found these gorgeous steps when we were out walking around. They made me ridiculously happy, and when I was exploring them I sincerely hoped they were only there for the purpose of giving people a moment of joy like the one I experienced. Gladly, I found out that the guy who painted them had no agenda in mind. He just loves colour as much as I do.
(Seriously, read the story about these steps here. It’ll make your day)
I think we could use a little more of that philosophy. No agenda. Just bright, happy colours that make people smile.
The last place I wanted to share with you is the Royal Horticultural Society’s Lindley Libraries, which houses books, art, photography and archives related to British gardening. The rooms are open to everyone so if you are into all things botanical, this is the place to visit.
A quick note about the RHS too. They run four epic gardens in the UK (in Surrey, Essex, Yorkshire and Devon) as well as the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, a massive, annual event on the palace grounds.
Insider hint: We went to Hampton Court last year when the flower show was on and it was a great revelation for two reasons:
1. NO one is at the palace that weekend. They are all at the flower show, so you have the run of the court.
2. In the afternoon, you can get cheap tickets into the show from the back yard of the palace with your Hampton Court ticket.
Anyway, I digress. From their headquarters near Victoria station, the RHS runs all kinds of workshops and talks about gardening (flower arranging, beekeeping, garden mosaics, you name it).
This coming Sunday (July 6th), for example, you can get in on an event that covers it all for only £5. Read more about it here.
If you have read more than a couple of my posts you will know that I love flowers and I love how important gardening is in the UK. It’s one of the biggest draws for me about living in this country. So this spot had a lot of appeal. I will definitely be back to check it out more thoroughly (and I’ll make it a mission to visit all four RHS gardens)!
Ok, I really thought I wouldn’t have much to say about the walk today but there you go. My fingers get going and I can’t seem to stop them.
Hopefully you found something new for you!
The next post will be the one where I finish the north and squeal like a kid at Christmas when I cross Vauxhall Bridge.
See you then!
23 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.
Quick update from the future: now that this project is finished, I’m off on another adventure! Keep in touch on my new blog at Three Miles an Hour. See you there!