Saturday, July 1, 2017

UK Day 963–In Which We Spot Boris Johnson, Buy All the Tea At Harrods, and Shop. A lot.


I’ve walked past the Houses of Parliament in London many times, but had never gone inside, until today. Politics are almost always extremely entertaining and interesting in the UK, and never more so than right now (although Charles I may argue with that) what with Brexit and a hung parliament and Boris Johnson all in the mix, this seemed like a good time to check out a debate and tour the building. I emailed ahead and got the low down from the very helpful Sophie who told us when and where to arrive. We dutifully showed up at the prescribed time in the morning and, after some intense airport-like security screening including x-ray machines  and metal detectors and ‘Visitor’ tags, we were in. I cannot describe in words the enormous scale and magnificence of of these buildings but suffice to say they rival any I have been in in this remarkable city and I can’t believe I have never been before.




After more security, I was given a laminated green sign that said “Gallery” on it, which I proceeded to wave above my head while walking, tour-guide style, and calling out “This way, please” with the aim of annoying/embarrassing Zoe and Terra as much as possible. I feel it is my parental duty to do this sort of thing from time to time just to keep it real for the girls.

A final round of security required us to give up our bags and phones and sign a piece of paper stating that we would not applaud or yell out things while we were in the viewing chamber while the MPs were debating. Travis had a bit of trouble with this but managed to keep it together. We were then ushered into the viewing gallery where a thick wall of class separated us from the House below. From our perspective, the Tories were on the left and Labour on the right. Neither Jeremy Corbyn nor Theresa May were in attendance, but that didn’t seem to matter much. We all sat entranced for the next 30 minutes while the two sides asked questions and debated private members’ bills. The repartee and witty banter was a joy to behold and a sharp contrast to the drivel that we have become used to hearing from certain other world leaders. At one point during a discussion about cyber-bullying the Speaker of the House stood up and made a joke about how Boris Johnson had been mercilessly teased online but mostly about his hair. Mr. Johnson was present at the time and much raucous laughter ensued. Another time, Labour referenced the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and then cast the ‘Expelliarmus’ spell on the entire Tory house. But the best was the Scottish National Party who hurled insult after insult and tore a strip off the Tories for their plan to form a coalition with the Democratic Union Party of Northern Island in order to stay in power, referring to it as a ‘Zombie government in a minority wasteland’. It was a treat to be there and we didn’t really want to leave but the rest of London was calling. Specifically, Harrods Tea department



Both Travis and I are serious tea drinkers and so we spent quite some time there, smelling the various teas and generally being high-maintenance.

Next up was a wander through Hyde Park towards Kensington Palace where all of us were hoping to catch site of Prince Harry in his ‘cottage’ on the grounds of Kensington Palace. Instead, we caught site of the ice-cream truck. We really need to bring the tradition of adding Cadbury Flake bars to ice cream in Canada. It’s so good!


The girls were really wanting to do some shopping so Oxford Circus was our next destination. This is a great high-energy area of London full of shops and interesting things to see including Carnaby Street.


I found a new store this time, a chocolate emporium with the fantastic name of ChoccyWoccyDooDah. Everything here is made of chocolate and upstairs is an extraordinary little café that serves a selection of unreal chocolate cakes, some a foot high. Prince was playing at 11 and the bathroom was entirely carpeted in AstroTurf. Also, they make wedding cakes like this one. Nice.


We scarfed down our 200th piece of cake and some delicious French lemonade before rolling out of there to find Hamley’s toys, where we must go every time we come to London. There is an entire floor devoted to Star Wars but I must say I was disappointed. What, for example, is this?


That, my friends, is not Chewbacca. Nope. No. And yes, it is supposed to be. Sad!

We shopped for another couple of hours until Travis and I put our collective feet down and demanded a return to the apartment so we could get dinner, it by then being close to 8pm. I think Zoe and Terra would probably still be there, roaming the racks at H&M with armfuls of clothing, eyes glazing over as they mechanically try on each pair of shoes in the place.

Ravi Shankar’s was our destination of choice for dinner and it was once again the most delicious thing I’ve ever had. I don’t remember much after that…

Banks for kleeping,



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