London, United Kingdom
51° 30' N 0° 7' W
Nov 24, 2002 22:18
Distance 0km

Text written in: English

Big Ben, Westminster Abby, Rodin, Feminist statue

Sunday November 24, 2002

We had breakfast and took the tube to visit Big Ben, Parliament, #10 Downing Street, etc. We crossed Westminster Bridge just to get a shot of Big Ben. I bought some hot honey roasted chestnuts from one of the many vendors on the bridge. We returned to the east side of the bridge and walked around the Parliament Building discovering a documentary film crew doing a track shot on a short section of rails. The program was about Margaret Thatcher.

The Abby was closed on Sunday so we decided to walk to number 10 Downing Street, Whitehall, the residence of the Prime Minister, Anthony Blair, only to be confronted with high iron fences, barricades and guard houses at the corner of Whitehall and Downing. The full Monty! We couldn't even see the residence building! We have become aware of an incredible presence of security cameras, police, military patrols, fences and obstacles to entrances to government and other buildings and frequent presence of helicopters. Strangely, commercial jets fly somewhat low directly over Parliament!

We visited Victoria Tower Gardens along the Thames River on the south end of Parliament. There are two statues there. First is the one of suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christine, active in socialist and suffrage movements in England. I took many photos of the monument including a plaque with colorful fall leaves. The other is by Rodin of the Burgers of Chalas. What a knock out!

At the end of the day we got caught in a slight drizzle as we waited for the changing of the horses at the "Horse Garrison. We waited for twenty minutes behind a white line. I stood next to a female 'bobby' constable and managed a bit of a conversation while she kept the waiting and watching crowds to 'stay behind the white line.' It was already dusk when the horses finally appeared and went through a bunch of lifting and stamping of feet and then the guards came out in the rain and got inspected.

As we left, after the ceremony, the previous light rain increased instantly into a tremendous full blown extremely heavy down pour of the worst proportions and was as bad as any we have experienced in Chicago. We had umbrellas, but they we still got pretty well drenched, including our day packs and my digital camera bag as well!

We left to attempt to find a taxi. What a joke!

We started walking across the street which by this time was a raging creek half way up our shoes! We walked this mess to catch the tube, a walk of about four or five blocks and all of a sudden became aware of walking on "gravel." We looked down to see the sidewalk covered with white pellets of hale the size of large pepper corns bouncing all over on the pavement! Believe it! A blizzard of hale! We both had small collapsible umbrellas that hardly did any good but didn't fail. The sound of the hail on the umbrellas was like a Gene Krupa drum solo at full intensity. It didn't let up for at least a half hour. Drenched, we finally made it to a tube stop and returned to the Kensington area.

We had dinner at Dino's Italian restaurant on Kensington Church Street opposite the church. Just as we entered, the church began a half hour "concert" of bells. It is so cold outside, the windows of Dino's are fogged up. We had excellent veal limonene and cannelloni with cheese and spinach (very rich) and a dessert Coppa Dino: coffee ice crème coated with caramel with sliced banana, chocolate sauce, chopped nuts and whipped cream on a waffle wafer. It was to die for!

Dino, as usual broke out in song occasionally.

Photos / videos of "Big Ben, Westminster Abby, Rodin, Feminist statue":

Big Ben Big Bend Susan on the bridge. Opposite Big Ben Parliament Opposite Parliament and Westminster Abby Emmeline Pankhurst feminist, in park next to Parliament, where her supporters chained themselve in the fight for the right to vote and equality On the side of statue of Emmeline Pankhurst feminist, in park next to Parliament, where her supporters chained themselve in the fight for the right to vote and equality. This was the movement's symbol designed by her equally famous daughter, Christine. Opposite Parliament Burgers of Chalas by Rodin in the riverside park next to Parliament (in the background) Burgers of Chalas by Rodin in the riverside park next to Parliament