I started this morning with a tour of Parliament. I learned all about the British House of Lords and House of Commons and how the government is formatted. We got to see the Queen's route to her throne and heard that she is not allowed in the House of Commons room. Instead, she sends her servant as her representative. Also, while the Queen is at Parliament, a member of Parliament volunteers to go stay at Buckingham Palace as almost a hostage until she gets back home--just in case.
|Oliver Cromwell statue outside Parliament|
|View of Big Ben from inside Parliament's Courtyard|
I learned about all of the monarchs and saw statues of each of them. The statue of Queen Victoria is accompanied by a representation of "justice", but justice's scales are missing. We learned that when a vote is finally called, the representatives have exactly 8 minutes to return to Parliament from wherever they are to vote in person. A bell announces that time is starting, and this bell rings not only in Parliament, but also in surrounding pubs and restaurants. Representatives vote by walking down a hallway that denotes either "yes" or "no" and their name is crossed off of a list as they pass through.
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After leaving Parliament, we got award-winning ice cream (who can pass up award-winning ice cream?!) and headed to Trafalgar Square to check out the Get Reading festival being held there. As librarians, we felt it was our duty to support any reading initiative we could! (Plus, Hugh Grant and Anthony Horowitz were supposed to be there!!!!!) We walked around to the different vendors and checked out some of the storytelling from the National Art Gallery, which ended up being more like an art history lesson for kids. We saw the Nook book signing area and realized that Anthony Horowitz wouldn't be there until way later, so we would probably miss him. We watched dancers and readers on stage and on a big screen performing and saw kids getting their faces painted and eating ice cream.
|Even the Cat in the Hat showed up!|
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Each of us had afternoon plans, so we left the square to set off on our other adventures. I headed back home to meet another few people to head back out on a Shakespeare archeological walk in Shoreditch. Of course, we choose the hottest day of the year in London to do all of this outdoor activity!! After a bit of a mishap with the bus, we made it to the meeting point just in the nick of time to catch the tour group just as they were leaving. Our tour guide took us to the two archaeological sites where The Theatre and the Curtain Theatre are being excavated. Both are important to London history and of particular interest to Shakespeare scholars. Along the way, he talked about where actors and writers lived and worked. The walk was interesting, informative, and enjoyable (despite the heat!). Many of the places are now only represented by plaques on the wall since many modern buildings have been built since the 17th century on top of the sites of old theatres, pubs, houses, and roads. The hand-out was helpful because it had maps from different time periods along with pictures of archaeological digs and of the people the guide was discussing.
|Plaque commemorating The Theatre|
|Pub near what was probably the entrance of The Curtain Theatre|
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The rest of today will be spent packing up to head to Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye for next week. I'm looking forward to spending some time in Scotland before we head back to London for the last week. I have thoroughly enjoyed London so far, but I think I'm ready for some non-city time, too. By the way, it reached 32*C here today...which is close to 90*F (not normal London weather, at all!!!!).