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The Property Snake

The opposite of the property ladder! This Site tells you how property prices in your area (just enter your UK postcode) are tumbling.

Readers’ Help Required!

Anyone care to explain how this thoroughfare in London SW1 got its name? I googled and found there is a Gloucestershire village of the same name but not much other info. I thought perhaps “Little France” (as of course there is a Little Venice in London) but surely that would be “Petit France”?

(why do I feel an answer from Fern Cake coming on here?)

London Conversation (2)

It is quite difficult to know where to begin, as we packed so many things in to our four days in the capital. A family could easily spend a fortnight in London and only scratch the surface of what the city has to offer in the way of interest and fascination. For me it was almost a pilgrimage to a place where I had spent time when I was young. I lived and worked in London for a time selling typewriters (remember them?) photcopiers and calculators. My sales area at that time (1979-80) was the north half of London W1 from Euston Rd to Oxford Street north to south and Edgware Rd to Tottenham Court Rd west to east. I had accommodation then in Leytonstone east London at a time toddler David Beckham was probably already honing his skills in a nearby street and Jonathan Ross was already catching a tube up to the west end to leave his rather unglamorous home locale at night. In the 28 intervening years I hadn’t been back to London and this was a brief refresher course on the capital.

One thing which I was reminded of right away was the London sense of humour. It is quite different from the Scots/Glasgow genre as it is less dry and more literal. Our tour guides for the open topped bus tour and the Thames cruise possessed this humour in spades along with the inherent conservatism that many indigenous Londoners are well known for (Our riverboat guide’s parting shot at the cruise end was “God Save the Queen!”. Thankfully he stopped short of a tug on the forelock and a wistful sideways glance whilst uttering “Gawd bless ‘er” but one feels it was a close thing)

On sailing past on our riverboat, he pointed out this building:

London City Hall

This is in fact Boris Johnson’s HQ as mayor and where London is run from. Our guide informed us that locals refer to it as the “leaning tower of pizza” and who can blame them? The photo really does nothing to convey the sheer ugliness of the building. The old GLC HQ county hall is still there and looks like this:


County Hall

County Hall is diagonally opposite the Houses of Parliament on the other side (in both respects) of Westminster Bridge and now houses a McDonalds amongst other things. Anyway back to the wit and wisdom of our riverboat guide. “The building on your right is the Tate Modern art gallery. If you want to see an unmade bed, a pile of bricks and some paint casually and carelessly brushed upon a wall, then I’ll take you round to my house and show you for free”.

On Tuesday we visited parliament and were shown round by prior arrangement by our local MP Alan Reid. Alan was a most interesting host and very courteous and patient with my kids as we toured round Westminster Hall, the lobbies and had a peek in both chambers (the Commons and the Lords). We couldn’t actually get in to the chambers at this stage as there were security sweeps going on. During our tour we met and spoke to (Lord) George Foulkes, Lord, MSP, former chairman of Hearts FC etc. He took some time out to talk to us. George I’m sure will not be losing any sleep over his pension plan!

I took some photos which I’ll thumbnail here. Click on any photo to view. From left they are 1) The spot where William Wallace was tried (Westminster Hall is over 900 years old) 2) A view of Big Ben tower from within parliament 3) The remarkable stained glass window in Westminster Hall and 4) A plaque recording the condemning to death of Sir Thomas More.

By arrangement with another MP, John McFall we had secured tickets for the strangers gallery and proceeded to witness Lord Chancellor’s (Jack Straw) questions in the House of Commons. The Lord Chancellor used to be the speaker of the House of Lords but now sits in the commons. Although there were not many of the top ranking politicians at this session it was nonetheless a very interesting afternoon.

Still to come, our visit to the London Eye, Walthamstow revisited etc.

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