May 19 - May 23:  Cheers from London

We had a great five nights in London. We had warm, sunny weather the whole time. Right away we rode the Big Bus (double decker tour bus) to see all the sights. The highlights were The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, London Eye (ferris wheel), St. Paul’s Cathedral (almost completely covered in scaffolding), The City of London, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, The Palace of Westminster and Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey.

The next day, after our full English breakfast which was huge compared to all the continental-type breakfasts in Italy and France, we visited the Palace of Westminster to see the House of Lords and House of Commons in action. The H of C was much more entertaining than the H of L. The members of the H of C can hurl insults in the most polite language I ever heard. They all laugh at each other, too. It’s fun to watch. The members with the wigs are fun to see, too. The room with the H of L has the Queen’s throne, which is impressive. Westminster Hall is an interesting room from the 11th Century that has a huge timbered ceiling. It is the only room in the whole Palace that survived the huge fire in the 1860’s in London. Across the street is Westminster Abbey. What a church! Filled to the brim with tombs.....prime ministers, Edward I, Queen Elizabeth I and her half sister Queen Mary I (buried together!..Elizabeth was Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s daughter....Elizabeth was Protestant and Mary was Catholic...), Mary, Queen of Scots (beheaded by Queen Elizabeth I), many poets, and many scientists. The high ceilings, chandeliers, stained glass,choir boxes, altar, and coronation chair (used from 1066 to present) were awesome. That night we saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium. It was very fun. The boys were amazed at the production.

The next day we took a narrated boat cruise to Greenwich. We saw the Cutty Sark, a China tea clipper, the Gipsy Moth IV, a racing sailboat that went around the world with a solo captain, the National Maritime Museum, and other sights. The Painted Hall and chapel in the Old Royal Naval College was designed by Wren and was very pretty. The Royal Observatory Greenwich was really neat. We straddled the Prime Meridian with one foot in the western hemisphere and one in the east. We saw the original clock (1736) that Harrison invented to keep accurate time on a moving ship, thus allowing for the calculation of longitude for the first time. Impressive.

On Saturday we went to the British Museum. We liked it very much. Great Egyptian, Assyrian, and Greek exhibits. The rest we did not see, but what we saw was fun. I really enjoyed seeing the Rosetta Stone, mummies, cat mummies, cuneiform writing, temple-tomb, and Parthenon friezes, pediment sculptures, and metopes. In the afternoon we saw The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. It was awesome. Incredible costumes and settings. It was even better than the other musical we saw. Very fun.

On Sunday, we saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, walked through Hyde Park to Speaker’s Corner and watched the egos on display, and rode the London Eye for the view of London. Not as pretty a city as Paris, but still fun to see. At 3 PM the boys and I went to evensong at Westminster Abbey. The choir was wonderful. The organ was nice. The sermon was very good. The setting was excellent.

That’s all for now, Pat