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Sorry about missing out your October’s blog, I was all backed up with work and Colleen kindly let me off for just one month. From the beginning of October to the end of November in London we’ve been on a weather roller coaster from warm sunny days to the current very unusual early snowfall which has sent everyone into a spin! Having 2 months’ highlights to tell you about means picking just a few but after a long think, I’m including the Lord Mayor’s Show, Anish Kapoor’s outdoor exhibition, a visit to the Houses of Parliament, and London Chocolate Week – is that enough variety?
The Lord Mayor’s Show has been happening every year since 1189 and they have only missed one year, 1852,
due to Wellington’s funeral. The event marks the appointment each year of a new Lord Mayor as they have just a one year term of office. Confusion reigns as the Lord Mayor’s Show is not about the rather well known Boris Johnson who is Mayor of London, this is about the Mayor of the City of London, a smaller but I’m sure very important mayoral appointment. It’s the world’s oldest civic procession and it is a wonderfully mad mix of the Armed Forces, horses and carriages, and lots of dressing up including the dramatic drawing of Civil War muskets in front of the VIP grandstand. I’ve attached a load of photos to give you the idea but one thing hard to see is the soft toy theme! It was really funny to see serious guys in ancient get up waving hand puppets – see if you can spot the guy with the sheep – and no, I’ve no idea why they did this! The Lord Mayor gave us a big wave with his hat as he passed by in the most extravagant fairytale carriage.
Anish Kapoor’s The World Upside Down is a number of reflective stainless steel pieces around Kensington Gardens in Hyde Park but I’m focussing on my favourite piece which has one side reflecting up and one down called C-Curve. It sits among the lovely old trees and they blend wonderfully into the piece and the crowd around it were really enjoying interacting with it – looking at themselves and Kensington Palace in the far distance. His work is full of fun and draws people into it so go if you can.
During the summer visitors can take a tour of the Houses of Parliament and they have just started offering Saturday tours for a trial period and it looked pretty busy so hopefully they will carry on. You can’t take pictures except of the extraordinary Great Hall, the sole remaining part of the medieval Old Palace of Westminster which burned down in 1834. It was built in 1097 and was then the largest hall in Europe and it still a remarkable sight. The tour takes you round the key areas of the Houses of Parliament including the House of Commons and House of Lords, the Lords is so much more elaborate it’s rather funny to see although that may be because the Commons was bombed in the Second World War. One great story was that Churchill had to decide whether to save the Great Hall or the Commons and thankfully opted for the much older Great Hall. Knowledgeable guides will tell you this and other stories of the famous people who have worked here and the impact they have had on our history.
Last but not least is Chocolate Week which had a big show at Vinopolis – normally the home at wine. The lovely hall was lined with stalls from every major chocatier around and they were all giving us free samples so it was a tough visit! We watched a talk by Paul A Young who is a top end and entertaining chocolate maker who tempted us with his off- the-wall Marmite truffle (if you don’t know Marmite it’s a love or hate spread) which definitely split the crowd. There was even a chocolate train but not for eating.. Everything was really beautiful but we did feel rather full and slightly sick afterwards!
I hope you enjoyed that rush through some fun times in London. Have a wonderful Christmas and I’ll see you in 2011 ready for another busy year.